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)

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