This article first appeared in the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal. The views are of the author(s).
What does the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA mean for India? The short answer is that no one knows, not even Trump himself. India was fortunate not to feature prominently during the heated and divisive 2016 US election season. The occasional statements concerning India by President Trump and his advisors during and after the campaign sent mixed and sometimes contradictory signals. Additionally, the belated appointment of senior officials to key government positions after his inauguration (and the profiles of those currently in place) suggest that some of the bigger questions about US engagement with the rest of the world remain unsettled.
In an era of greater flux and uncertainty, it is nonetheless important for India to identify the key variables triggered by President Trump’s election, and their implications. They relate, essentially, to four broad areas: bilateral relations; the Asian balance of power; terrorism; and global governance.
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If Trump and his group hoped that this kind of tough talk would make the North Koreans nervous, and make them come back with their tail between their legs — no, that’s just not the way they work. This is a stupid move. By pushing North Korea away, in such an in-your-face way, he’s pushing them to work separately with the South Koreans and the Chinese.
Timing the pull-out to the exact moment North Korea was publicly doing Trump a favor looked like an intentional burn. This was a slap in the face against Kim [Jong-un].