Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat
DONALD Trump and those within his team loyal to the man are of the view that time is no longer on the side of the United States. This proposition is correct only in the context of a specific perception of what the US is. There are those who would like the country to continue societally much as it was during the 1950s, with those of European ethnicity having an overwhelming majority over the rest of the population. Both Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss and Attorney General Jeff Sessions embody such a view. Neither would be comfortable in any culture different from that across both sides of the Atlantic, and must be feeling a growing sense of alarm at the way in which those not of European descent have become commonplace in most of countries bunched around the shores of Atlantic Ocean.
DeVoss is among the worst possible choices for her job, as the Education Secretary is busying herself blocking opportunities for the underprivileged to gain access through brainpower into the best educational institutions in the country. Such policies will harm the US immensely in the decades ahead, but DeVoss seems oblivious to the racist underpinning of the policies she supports. Hopefully both Melania Trump as well as Ivanka Kushner will be able to prevail on Donald J Trump to send her as the US envoy to Hungary, a country where the government is supportive of several of her own views on ethnicity. Both Melania and Ivanka have shown that they are very much 21st century world citizens, in contrast to many others,including in the inner reaches of the Trump team who seem determined to behave as though the changes brought about since the days of Dr Martin Luther King never happened. As for Jeff Sessions, he is even more of a dinosaur than DeVoss, pining for the US that existed before Abraham Lincoln defied racists in his own party to first launch a war against the slaveholding states and later get passed the Emancipation Proclamation into US law.
Steven Spielberg may have periods when his artistic gifts falter, but “Lincoln” (the movie) was a classic of world cinema. Lincoln acted wholly contrary to Mahatma Gandhi’s belief that “Means are after all everything”. He employed guile and more to ensure that enough votes got secured in the House of Representatives to pass the Emancipation Proclamation, much of it being captured in the movie through the genius of Spielberg. The Mahatma repeatedly showed himself willing to sacrifice the attainment of key objectives when presented with what he believed were non-moral ways of reaching it. Had this noble soul been in charge in the US rather than Lincoln, there would have been a Confederate States of America (CSA) together with the US, while in the case of the UK, his advice to that country when attacked by Hitler was to allow the German armies to occupy the UK, hoping that such a step would change the heart and mind of Adolf Hitler. Truly did Albert Einstein say that “generations to come will scarce believe that such a man ( as the Mahatma) ever existed in flesh and blood.”
Jeff Sessions is pursuing the policies adopted by President Richard Nixon (and in a slightly altered form by Bill Clinton), which was to fill the jails with those found guilty of offences that were of little adverse consequence except to moral purists. Had marijuana been legalised and the atrocious “Three Strikes” Clinton-era legislation (which mandated life sentences to those found guilty even of three minor infractions), several hundreds of thousands in the US would not have taken up a life of crime after getting released from a prison system that brings out in most the worst in every prisoner. And this for the simple reason that unless the worst instincts get sharpened, life in prison would be almost unbearable. The Attorney General of the US is a throwback to the era of Nixon and Clinton, which is why it is unfortunate that a President as practical and as rooted in reality as Donald J Trump appointed such a past era throwback as the chief law officer of a country that will retain its primacy only if it adopts liberal, merit-based policies Donald Trump has called for since he first came into public attention in 1980s.
Of course, despite Betsy DeVoss and Jeff Sessions, the US is not at the core a racist country. In fact, it is much less tinged with that handicap than Europe, as witnessed by the fact that those coming from India do extraordinarily well in the US but face a usually impenetrable glass ceiling in most of Europe,including on occasion in the most societally liberal country still within the EU, which is the UK. President Trump is right that the flow of immigrants needs to be regulated, so that those useful to the economy find entry rather than those who could become Social Security parasites. However, such individuals are more likely to be found in Kolkatta and Chennai rather than in Bucharest or Tirana. Within the narrow circle of those having the trust of the 45th President of the United States, wife Melania and daughter Ivanka stand out for boldly disagreeing in public with several of the President’s sometimes quaint views as expressed through Twitter posts. They need to step in more actively to ensure that racists and retrogressive within the Republican Party do not damage the long-term future of the US through policies that are toxic to the country and undeterred to the needs and realities of society.
Those advocating toxic policies have the potential to damage the Trump presidency at a stage when the Washington Beltway is accelerating its efforts at having him thrown out of the White House well before his term ends. There is a fear that even a “character assassin” as skilled as Robert Mueller may fail to concoct dossiers sufficient to impeach the President. Mueller is jailing those close to Trump on any charge that his imagination can come up with, even if these be far removed from the stated mission of examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s Russia. The Special Prosecutor is clearly seeking to blackmail Paul Manafort (who is simply “guilty” of the widespread Beltway virus of accepting money from any source available) and others to memorize the script given to them by Mueller, and which will implicate Trump in a conspiracy to subvert the election. Had Mueller been in the USSR of the 1930s, he would have come to the admiring attention of Joseph Stalin as someone who could be relied on to make a huge impact on the show trials against innocent victims that the Soviet “Vozd” (supremo) specialised in. The retrogressive in the Trump team are damaging the US President’s and making it easier for the Washington Beltway to succeed in ousting Trump. Such a situation calls for much more intervention by Melania Trump and Ivanka Kushner, so that the President is rescued from those who are sabotaging him while pretending to support him.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.