The world has been hearing President Trumps oft repeated declaration ÒAmerica FirstÓsince the preelection days in 2016. Since then it has become the corner stone of the US security and foreign policies. However the world has never quite understood or been fully conversant with the implications of this term. The recently unveiled National Security Strategy of the US does provide some insights in this regard.
President Trump outlined his goals for military modernisation and economic advancement on December 18, 2017, as he unveiled his national security strategy in a speech in Washington. The strategy document, which every president is required by law to produce Ð offers a blueprint for TrumpÕs security and foreign policy. It could help guide future decisions on defense spending, trade negotiations and international cooperation. However, not- withstanding its shrill rhetoric, it remains to be seen whether the NSS can be implemented with the same certainty as stated.
The US security strategy is built around four pillars: protecting the homeland, promoting prosperity, peace through strength, - ence. The document, as well as TrumpÕs speech on December 18, refers to issues which were pronounced by Trump on the campaign trail in 2016. For example he wrote in the introduction of the document: ÒUnfair trade practices had weakened our economy and exported our jobs overseas. Unfair burden-sharing with our allies and inadequate investment in our own defense had invited danger from those who wish us harm. É Nearly one year later, although serious challenges remain, we are charting a new and very different course.Ó
types of challenges: revisionist powers such as Russia and China, rogue regimes like North Korea and transnational actors such as ISIS. However, the strategy acknowledges that some players may be both allies and competitors. The United States is counting on China, for example, to help contain North KoreaÕs nuclear threat, even as the administration tries to counter what it sees as ChinaÕs unfair trading practices. Likewise, the US remains wary of RussiaÕs movements in Ukraine. But that didnÕt stop the CIA from sharing intelligence with Russia to help foil a potential terrorist plot in St Petersburg Ñ actions that prompted a thank you call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump.
The broad thrust of the docu - sus in the American establishment that China is an adversary. While some in India may consider this as good news, yet we must consider that our friend Russia who is the supplier of almost 70 per cent of Indian weapons and favours the idea of a multipolar world is also being viewed as a revisionist state by the US, thus its place in the international system. This also implies that the US considers itself to be a status quo power. With its foreign policy dedicated to maintaining the current order and ensuring its place at the top of the international system, the United States has been constantly active in ensuring the existence of modern internationally accepted norms. One of the major policies that the world has witnessed the United States implement has been its active preservation of the international balance of power. Thus when the US clubs Russia and China together as ÒrevisionistÓ states implies that it believes that both are trying to tilt the existing balance of power.
New Delhi, must consider that while it is a strategic partner of the US, most countries in the world have very little trust in Trumps Administration hence India should be very careful in accepting everything on Òface valueÓ.While the US has been critical of Pakistan even in the past for sheltering Terror groups, this has not stopped the US administration in granting substantial aid to Pakistan year after year. Despite the present rhetoric, how far will the US go against Pakistan will have to be seen. Thus we will have to deal with all issues deliberately and carefully considering our national interests and our existing and future relations with all three powers, namely the US, Russia and China. Our Policy should be based on the fundamental principle of “Strategic Autonomy” which in turn implies the ability and capability to preserve our national interests and
The other important piece of news concerns Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP2016). For ÔMake in IndiaÕ to become possible and viable i.e. for complex weapon systems to be made in India, the so called Strategic Partnership (SP), which be modeled appropriately.
The primary aim of the Strategic Partnership concept, as spelt out by the Dhirendra Singh Committee, was to harness the potential of the private sector in the manufacture of high-tech defence equipment indigenously by creating additional capacity over and above the capacity and infrastructure that exists in the public sector. Thus additional capacity was to be created in the private sector and production opportunities were to be exclusively reserved for the private companies. However under pressure from the public sector and for reasons best known, the government has negated the very objective of the policy by deciding not to restrict SP scheme to the private sector alone. Manufacture of submarines and armoured vehicles has been opened to both the public and the private sectors. Unless we start by encouraging the private sector to develop capacities, ÔMake in IndiaÕ will remain a dream because the public sector alone will not be able to deliver the desired result.
Wish you all a Happy New Year and an interesting reading! Lt General V.K. Kapoor (Retd)