Here’s what Trump had to say about India at the UN General Assembly


  • The United States president, Donald Trump, highlighted how India was a ‘free society’ which has lifted millions out of poverty.
  • He also read out a list of friends that included India and Saudi Arabia, but on this list, North Korea was his number one ally.
  • The president’s ‘doctrine of patriotism’ while also propagating alliances may be at odds with each other, especially when it comes to US-India relations.
The president of United States Donald Trump had a lot to say at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Some good and some bad, and amid lashing out at nations like Iran and China, Trump was able to slip in a few good words about India.

Trump made a clear distinction between the ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ places around the world with India, Poland and Saudi Arabia falling into the former category and Iran, Nicaragua, Germany, China and any country that doesn’t ‘respect’ the United States falling into the latter.

While commending India's efforts he stated - “There is India, a free society (of) over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class.”

But here’s the thing, while propagating free societies, he also explicitly rejected the ‘ideology of globalism’ and imposing the ‘doctrine of patriotism’. He explained that the ‘nation state’ is only a vehicle where freedom and democracy manage to survive and peace prevails.

US-India relations

Being friends with the United States and simultaneously being aligned to a ‘doctrine of patriotism’, as suggested by Trump, would put India at odds with the western nation. Because while United the States and India maintain their good relations, for now, policy issues on the horizon paint a more concerning picture.

To start with, a lot of the new legislations and policy decisions made under the Trump administration are particularly harmful to India. Not only do they affect trade, as with the US sanctions against Iran, but have the potential to impact India’s national interests and alliances with other nations.

It’s a divergent process where Trump is expecting allies to come under his umbrella as he pursues policies that are against their energy and military requirements, two very strategic sectors of the economy.

Trump added, “Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.” Which he then substantiated by reading out a list of his ‘friends’.

This list of friends reflected his personal relationships with world leaders rather than the alliances of the United States. North Korea, the country Trump was incredibly harsh against during last year’s UNGA, was at the top of this list.

The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) deal, in particular, is of concern because it could impact the India-Russia deal to purchase new S-400 surface-to-air missiles. And, it’s not an India-specific issue. Even nations like Saudi Arabia, who’ve also made into Trump’s ‘friends’ list, have plans of getting their hands on the advanced missile system by 2019.

And, while most leaders take the opportunity on the UN stage to highlight the treaties and agreements that they’ve initiated, Trump chose to put all the protocols he’s rebelled against in the spotlight.

Regardless of whether it intentional or unintentional, Trump claims he ‘meant’ to make world leaders laugh with his address to the United Nations. And, laugh they did when Trump ‘boasted’ that his administration has managed to do more than any other in US history.

Representative image.
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