The Trump-east
| Manoj Chaudhary - 06 Nov 2017

All said and all done, an American President is an American President. It’s a part of the nation’s legacy to adulate and curse both at the same time. The Press is often a catalyst, which has to keep big fires burning, and you never have a bigger figure than that!

Issues are always there, but this time, it is the Russian connection that refuses to settle down. Various changes in the White House staff are on, and it would be reasonable to suppose, they shall come up again after the 12-13 day sojourn to Asia, the longest by any President after George Bush.

Having signed golf caps mutually with a rejuvenated Mr Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, I suppose the primary understandings shall be on trade, though North Korea, re-alignment with China, may not be pronounced vociferously, may be not at all.

Japan is the second, and perhaps the most important in terms of US interests in Asia. There was a stopover at Philippines, the other countries being South Korea, China, Vietnam, and finally a meet with East Asian countries where he would be keeping time aside to meet Mr Putin.

Not to mistake, a visit to the Pearl Harbour was made on the eve of the kick-off of the visit. American Nationalism survives on revived memories, no matter how transient. They are also necessary to keep the shovel wielding press, and the common yet proud American, occupied.

Defence strategies are understood, but not to be proclaimed in detail. Discussions may be on trade transactions, that is the first concern of the US at present.

Referring to the 2016 goods and services (GST) statement the total transaction was $ 270bn, with Japan exporting $162 bn, and importing $ 107 bn, with a trade deficit of nearly $50bn. The figure may not be alarming, but perhaps the US may be ready to take more to keep the employment ratio high, but equally important, to settle for lesser gaps in the US-Sino trade.

Till now, not a word has been spoken on North Korea, so perhaps diplomatic excavation and defence foot-holding must be on the way.
Vietnam, once a nemesis, naturally assumes importance because much needs to be done there, a rising economy, with US influence, though of a different kind in the remote past, and a crucial buffer, and tactical diversion in case of a less feared North Korean flare-up.

India, a short while ago did transport armament to Vietnam, but it is to our advantage, that we are not in the “political selfie”
If I was to summarize the crux of this longish trip, within 10 months of a Presidential installation, it may be summarized in three parts—trade, trade that becomes a terror, and a real solution to it all, which is smoothening/reviving ties.

South Korea, for years has been nurtured as a US ally. It has grown into a major world economy, particularly in automobiles, and electronic goods. It has quality products, and can be a manufacturing goods solution to the US, creating more jobs, and friendly trade adjustments, where deficits may not loom as economic threats, nor even be suggestible as what the US may like to interpret as political indolence.

No superpower by its very nomenclature likes that.
Besides, larger volumes in trade, an aspect the US may like to explore, there are other issues. A part of South Korean mindset, is leaning towards their own interaction with their breed across the border. It may de-escalate tensions, even lead to some economic welfare, for North Korea to drop its martial poise.

However, there must be a reason, why for decades, the US could not mitigate its animosity towards North Korea. These are matters of global balance of power, better understood by those who understand it.

For instance, when Germany got united after the cold war, it was not so much as brothers hugging each other in arms. I still remember sitting in a café in Bethel (Epilepsy Centre in prior West Germany), and hearing from my German colleague, “It’s OK. We spent decades after the War, building a modern Germany, and now what we get are junked factories, and country cousins, and for a while we shall be working for them too”.

For the world, it was good though. One more area of contention between the super-powers was de-fused. One may say so for a few other similar situations, but as yet it may be time and circumstance shall tell .

The visit to China, must be the one all US diplomatic, military, intelligence must be geared up to. Primarily, it shall focus on trade negotiations to contain, restrict, even slowly reduce the deficit. Behind this is the gospel truth that flourishing economies lean towards hegemony, diplomatic, even physical.

The US shall be using all at hand, to achieve ambivalence in many respects. North Korea, I believe shall be better contained by such an agreement.

One of President Trumps successes has been his personal links with the Chinese Chief Xi Ping, at Mar-a-Lago, where they mutually spelt out CED (comprehensive economic dialogue, which covered the four sections of diplomacy-security, economic dialogue, law enforcement and cyber issues, and finally social and cultural exchange).

This President could foresee this, and his personal links with the Chinese strongman, may be pivotal to what President Trump (“I am the one who maters”), may wriggle out a deal with a presently stern China. Mr Xi, having declared an elaborate universal open trade plan, saying as much as “The controlling power in Asia should be an Asian country”, may have to be politely conceded, or even kept out of discussion.

The meeting with East Asian Conglomerate shall be interesting. The US, so far strenuously, though inconsistently involved in eradicating terrorism, left a few countries which consider it as a natural ally, in terms of democracy, political structure, world peace, a bit in the lurch. That lapse shall have to be overcome. Asian countries prefer democracy, and development, and if trade be a part of the wooing process, let democratic structures as Us prophesizes, also be highlighted.

It is a different matter that the two largest, including a super-power bear the stigma of a leftist philosophy.

That brings us to the interaction between black-belt ( can’ forget an nine dan) Putin, and the often red-tie US President. It should go on well, for the President’s visit would have kept a formula of conciliation in mind. What changes may have come about after the 18th October Chinese Declaration, would be a matter to watch.
India thankfully is out (or has opted out) of this very specific sojourn. None of these really concern us directly, but we hope, in the re-alignment of the major framework, some matters irking the nation may also get ironed out.

To part with a relevant one, “an iron hand in a velvet glove” is the gist of all diplomacy !

“Khoob parda hai chilman se lagey baithein hain,
Saaf chuptey bhi nahin, saamney nazar atey bhi nahin”

– Daag

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