U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s pullback of the United States from the United Nations presents a unique opportunity for India.
Trump has pulled the United States out of three major UN initiatives; the climate change treaty, UNESCO, and a pact on global immigration, The Guardian reported. That might present India with a unique leadership role on those issues.
The American exit will make India the most important democratic nation participating in those bodies. It will give India a unique position of moral influence, as a democratic counterweight to China.
India can establish itself as the World’s Leading Democracy
India can establish itself as the world’s leading democratic power by working against China at such organizations. Another benefit will be to make India look like a responsible and mature power by shouldering responsibilities America is shirking.
That will certainly bolster India’s case for a seat on the Security Council. Other countries seeking a strong democratic voice that does not represent Europe; or is not beholden, to China, will look to India for leadership.
Another advantage India gets is to be able to counter and limit Chinese influence at the United Nations. A danger that Trump seems to be ignoring is that his actions increase Chinese influence at the United Nations. That will create many openings for Chinese business, trade, and diplomacy around the world.
That is bad for democracy; because China is an authoritarian country, ruled by a Communist Party and a Leninist dictatorship. When the United States leaves the building, China becomes the dominant power by default.
India as a Counterweight to China
Another large power will have to step up to counter China, and India is the natural candidate. Simply being present will give India a level of influence that the United States will lack.
It will put India in an even stronger position, when the United States comes crawling back to the United Nations. A likely result of the American exit is that Trump; or his successor, will end up begging to participate in the Climate Treaty, UNESCO, and the refugee compact at some point in the future.
An India prime minister might even be able to cut a deal with the United States to get on the Security Council in the near future. One way to achieve that is to represent American interests at bodies like UNESCO while Trump is absent. This will be a favour that the United States will have to repay at some point.
Trump is creating an Opportunity for China and India in the Middle East
There are other opportunities for India to establish itself as a world leader in the age of Trump. An obvious one would be as an arbiter in the Middle East Peace Process. As a Hindu-majority nation, India can effectively act as a neutral negotiator because it has no stake in what happens in Jerusalem.
India has no close relationships or religious affiliations with either the state of Israel or the Palestinians. American Presidents are often beholden to influential Jewish and Evangelical Christian minorities that strongly support Israel. India’s involvement there might defuse the situation, because India’s Prime Minister has no such internal political obligations to pay back.
The Indian government might have no choice but to get involved in Israel and the Middle East, because if it does not China will. The Chinese established a navy base in Djibouti, right across the Red Sea from the oil fields in Saudi Arabia in August, 2017, Al Jazeera reported. The next logical step will be to establish People’s Liberation Army bases in Arab nations.
A good way for India to counter this and make friends in the Arab world would be to try and broker a peace deal in Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, or Syria. Even failed negotiations might be seen by the Arabs as a gesture of good faith. Such negotiations might bolster India’s relationships with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and ensure the flow of oil.
President Trump’s clumsy foreign policy is creating many openings and opportunities for India around the world. India needs to take advantage of them before China does and shuts it out.