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US thinktank rates Donald Trump - it's a D+ in foreign policy, B+ for India ties


New Delhi: US President Donald Trump has received an overall grade of 'D+' on his foreign policy initiatives in a new report authored by former American envoy to India Robert D. Blackwill for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The report, though, has lauded Trump for his efforts in bringing India under its strategic embrace.

Titled Trump's Foreign Policies Are Better Than They Seem, the New York-based think-tank's report released Monday said, 'On many of the most important issues — China, North Korea, and Russia — the Trump administration scrambles to make sense of the president's public pronouncements, which are often made by tweet and are often as much a surprise to them as to the public.'

Trump exhibits 'contempt for diplomacy and the officers who conduct it' and while the whole world deals with important issues that have global impact, the US President chooses to deal with issues that are a 'nonexistent threat', Blackwill said in the report.

The CFR report also noted that Trump refuses to acknowledge the analytical capability that US always boasted of and chooses to deal only with those issues that he thinks are important and that too 'without either navigational aids or clear destinations'.

Blackwill has given an 'F' to Trump for his promotion of US values at home and abroad, saying Trump has persistently attempted to 'deceive the people of the United States about the substance of his policies'.

The former envoy said the President 'undermines U.S. democratic institutions' and 'weakens American capacity to project power abroad'. He added that Trump 'globally besmirches America's aspiration, since its founding, to be a democratic beacon on the hill'.

'B+' for India policy

On his India policy, the report, however, graded Donald Trump 'B+'. It noted that both Washington and New Delhi have come closer militarily due to their common concern over the rise of China as a superior military power.

'Although it (India) has not entirely endorsed the Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, it has applauded the strategy's declared vision of a 'free and open' Indo-Pacific region — a concept first articulated by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi enjoys an exceptionally close relationship,' the report said.

Referring to the signing of two foundational defence pacts and increased purchase of arms by India from US, Blackwill said all the initiatives 'still have far to go'.

'Only strong security ties with the United States — in tandem with other important countries such as France, Israel, Japan, and Russia — can provide such comfort at a time when India is still some distance away from realizing its own great power ambitions,' said the CFR report.

China, North Korea

On his handling of China and North Korea, two of US' self-proclaimed enemies, Trump was able to secure better grades of 'B+' and 'B', respectively.

On China especially, Blackwill said Trump was able to adopt a more 'clear-eyed approach' that 'breaks with many of the errors of the past', adding that the US and China could finally hammer out a trade deal that will have long-term benefits for America.

'The president's confrontational trade policy could lead to a significant deal. It remains possible that Beijing will yet again not make good on its commitments, but Trump and his often-criticized trade strategy could have broken through Beijing's heretofore impenetrable shield regarding its trade misconduct,' the CFR report said.

It also mentioned the violation of Iran sanctions that Chinese telecom firms such as ZTE and Huawei have committed.

On North Korea, the report noted that it was due to Trump's strategy that the situation has 'calmed' and ties have been 'reinvigorated at the highest level of leaders'.

Iran, Afghanistan

On Iran, Blackwill said that although Trump did the right thing by pulling out of the 'flawed' nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he has failed to offer a suitable alternative to avoid a conflict in the near future.

'It is also highly unclear what U.S. policy will be toward Tehran on the nuclear issue during the rest of the president's time in office.'

As the US moves forward on peace talks with Taliban in Afghanistan, the report said America has already accomplished its goal of eliminating Al-Qaeda from the region. Hence, it's not worth for US to participate in an indefinite war and waste billions of dollars in it, the CFR report said.

'The United States can now attack al-Qaeda targets on both sides of the border, which was not the case in the years before 9/11, when the United States was passive as al-Qaeda built up its terrorist infrastructure. And a repeat of a 2001-type terrorist attack on the homeland could be planned anywhere,' it said.

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.

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