India's Options and Modi's US Visit #388

Indian PM Modi is visiting US amidst an unprecedented welcome. What is he staring at? American exceptionalism has at some point given way to American expansionism. Even against its own allies in NATO. With such a record, what can US offer to any of its potential partners? Little.

India's Options and Modi's US Visit #388
Photo by Carlos Felipe Ramírez Mesa / Unsplash
“The earth does not need new continents, but new men.” ― Jules Verne

Sachin Tendulkar is like a "god" when it comes to world cricket, but specifically so in India.  Very few other batters in cricket have dominated the bowlers like him.

His favorite shot - the Cover drive.  

It was a thing of beauty and delight for it could be used in teaching manuals.

On one tour of Australia, he showed a weakness in that shot and the Aussies exploited it.  

His greatest strength had become his Achilles' heel.

So what did he do?

He went out in the 4th Test of that Australian tour on January 2, 2004 after having a string of dismal scores by his standards - 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44.

“We did think for a while that he had a weakness with the ball coming back in through the gate driving on the up. We got him out a couple of times so maybe we could get him out playing the cover drive. “That was our plan in Sydney and he refused to play a cover drive and got 241 not out. So it just shows he can adapt his game and overcome the plans of the opposition,” Steve Waugh recalled

He decided not to play a shot on the off-side.  Specifically the cover drive.  He shut down his most prolific side of stroke making that day.

And ended up scoring one of highest scores in cricket and humbling the mighty Aussies into submission.

Competition is not just about talent and power.  But what really works most is discipline and the attitude to persevere while knowing you are in it alone.

And, for that you do things that no one would even imagine or dare to do.

Geopolitics is the same way.

Double-sided Games and Modi's US visit

Everyone from Governments, think tanks, foreign policy experts, newspaper columnists, the comedians and even internet influencers have been poking at India on one thing.

Why are you not condemning Russia and voting against it?

Then there is a parade of self serving agencies which dish out Democracy Indices, Hunger Reports, and Press Freedom report to paint India and its democracy evil.

For example the V-Dem report.

Source: V-Dem 2023 report

Salvatore Babones shares the obvious nonsensical V-Dem report when it holds China's democratic credentials over India's!

The World Press Freedom Index is another interesting case study.  It is report where Pakistan and even Taliban-led Afghanistan are rated higher than India.  The reasons to indict India?

India slips below Afghanistan to 161st on World Press Freedom Index
Annual assessment sees India fall from 150th last year in report highlight ‘media takeovers by oligarchs’

Legal tangles of BBC and corporate takeovers of the Quint and NDTV by a business man "perceived to be close to Modi".  That guy has been working equally with every political party and getting his way.  But Capitalism and corporate battles being seen as a "government failing" are the least of worries of the Western powers hell bent on demonizing the current Indian government.

Oh the shamelessness and the arrogance of the so-called global elite.  

Remember though that Narendra Modi won a democratic election in 2019 (as he did the one in 2014), which was the largest democratic election in human history with total voter numbers at 900 million.

For context that is roughly equal United States and Europe's populations put together!

And some more context on who voted for Mr. Modi:

The BJP's vote share in constituencies where, for example, the Muslim population is between 20-40%, was ~44%.  Versus 16.20% in the case of the Congress party which is the "grand old party".  And btw, it had increased by over 8% from the previous elections.

Source: Here's how BJP earned the massive mandate: Explained in numbers / Economic times

Either Indian Muslims are fools that they voted so overwhelmingly for a man, that V-Dem and others are working to demonize!

Or they are spreading false propaganda?

It isn't difficult to understand which of these is correct.

So, after months of hounding the Indian government led by PM Modi at every forum on the Ukraine war "insensitivity" and "siding with evil Russia", and being undemocratic; the Americans were getting ready to offer India a 'NATO Plus' status along with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and South Korea.

Source: Eye on China, US House panel wants India in Nato Plus bloc" / Times of India

An offer that India's Minister of External Affairs summarily rejected.  Thanks but no thanks!

Dr. Jaishankar said something interesting - for every issue, US has one template to offer - "NATO" or some such "special alliance".


That act of throwing crumbs at everyone you want to nail (as is obvious from the various negative overtures coming the Modi government's way from the Western countries) may not be that lucrative anymore.

Multipolarity is a real thing in the world these days, and despite the Bi-polar characterization of the world by the Western think-tanks, countries are looking at their own interests with their own calculations.

When they do, it may very well be the case that they do things better than the two guys who claim self-acclaimed leadership of the world.

A Zero-Sum Game?

Wang Wen, the executive dean and professor at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University in China shares a conclusion that is quite perceptive.

"The future world will not center on realpolitik under the logic of realism. Whether it is the United States, other G-7 countries, or China, the key to winning the future is not to defeat the other, but to do better."

He was sharing this statement in the context of how the G-7's communique from its Hiroshima summit was almost a copy-paste exercise of the Chinese policy statements and actions.

Source: "The G7 Wants to Copy China’s Homework. Beijing Is Fine With That" / The Diplomat

That G-7 and the Chinese are thinking along the same lines and still on the opposite sides of the global power equation points to an intriguing scenario.

Competition is not just lethal now.  Its a zero-sum!

And, in that 'zero-sum' game that the West, led by US, wants to play - "Either you are with or against us" - the others aren't willing to tango.  Saudi Arabia, for one, laid it out point blank to Antony Blinken last week.

Source: Saudi Arabia says US, China ties not ‘zero-sum game’ / South China Morning Post

You see, the Saudi Arabia of today, is not the Saudi Arabia that Joe Biden slept looking at when he went out of power as the Vice President.  A lot changed during the years that Donald Trump was in the seat.

For one, for the first time in the last 1400 years Israelis and the Arabs became friends to an extent that they opened consulates in each other's regions.

Source: Al Jazeera and Wall Street Journal

That points to a fundamental shift, not a mere photo-op.

So, you see the Arabs are changing.  The world is marching to a different tune now.  

And, that tune is not an American one.  Neither is it European.  And not even Chinese for that matter.

It is a cacophony maybe but it has a different piece for everyone.

It is in this kind of world that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman lays out his vision of where the Middle East is headed.  

"If we succeed in the next five years, many countries will follow us... I do not want to die before I see the Middle East at the forefront of the world."

Its a remarkably pragmatic and progressive vision.  He is not selling oil and hoping to reach there.


The Saudis have had a contentious relationship with the US for some time now.  And it has not been very cordial lately.

But what about the NATO allies of the US?  How does US work with them?

Arnaud Montebourg was the Minister of Industrial Renewal from 2012 to 2014 and then as the Minister of Economy, Industrial Renewal, and Digital Affairs in 2014.

His interview recently gave an incredible insight.

Arnaud Bertrand, an entrepreneur who sold his company to Tripadvisor, shared the translation of some of the more potent portions of the information shared by Montebourg.  The machinations and the destructive attitude of the US establishment towards their own NATO allies is remarkable!

In a piece (titled "Guerre économique : comment les Etats-Unis font la loi" or "Economic War: How the United States Makes the Law") on Radio France, the same sentiment was expressed as articulated by Montebourg.

Source: "Guerre économique : comment les Etats-Unis font la loi" (English translation)

Frédéric Pierucci was a senior manager at Alstom.  He was held by the US as an economic offender accused of corruption by the United States government in 2014.

Source: US Department of Justice

At that time General Electric was negotiating with Alstom to purchase its energy section.  In 2009, the US Department of Justice decided that Alstom had violated the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and because of its extraterritorial scope where it deals with bribery of foreign public officials, Frédéric Pierucci was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport for bribery of foreign public officials and conspiracy to bribe.  

How the American takeover of a French national champion became intertwined in a corruption investigation
A Department of Justice investigation into Alstom ended in 2014 with General Electric’s $17bn takeover of the French company

As an incentive he was "invited" to become an FBI informant inside Alstom, which he refused (Source).  He was in the jail for 14 months in high security prison until he got bail but was jailed again for two and half years.

Given how the French (as may have been others) have been treated despite being a NATO member, one may wonder what does a NATO Plus membership bring to India really?

The feeling of divergence from the American policy is being seen within the rest of Europe as well.

As Fareed Zakaria reports, Europe may be aligned with the US on Russia but China is a different matter.

Europe is an interesting place to think about China. I traveled to three European countries this week (Germany, Italy and Britain), and everywhere, the conversation turned to Washington’s policies toward China. Most of the political figures I spoke with were apprehensive. They were strongly behind the Biden administration’s policies toward Russia and credited President Biden with uniting the West and infusing it with strategic clarity and purpose. They were far more worried about policy toward China and more generally about Biden’s new international economic policies, as outlined recently by national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown explained the European dilemma. “Europe needs an industrial policy, but it cannot afford to mimic the [Biden] administration’s protectionism,” he told me. “For Europe, trade is vital; its prosperity is dependent on trade with the rest of the world, including China, in a way that America’s is not. [Unlike America, Europe] imports energy and is not self-sufficient. Despite the surface agreement across the Atlantic, this could become a growing divide.” (Source: Europeans and Asians don't see China like we do by Fareed Zakaria/ Washington Post)

Trade and energy differences may create a wider chasm for the two sides of the Atlantic.  To strong arm alliances in such a situation may not augur well.

When all you have is a hammer...

Unfortunately however, the arrogance and the swagger of the American elites is so blinding that they are ready to use their tools and templates on every adversary they pronounce as one.

Even political opponents in a democratic system!

Yeah yeah, Trump is this and Trump is that.  Heck every god-damn dictator in every god forsaken Junta-led country has spewed the same venom against his opponents.  Remember the disgust and lecturing the American establishment would unleash on such a "backward country" from Africa or Asia or South America?

No one gives a rat's arse about how oh-so-divinely-ordained the Democrats believe they are and how terrible Trump is.  

To the larger world, the whole Trump indictment on some "technicality" stinks of Banana Republic variety of crap.

And, that is precisely what Mark Levin lays out in his anger.  US is a country where its agencies have become partisan.  Clearly compromised.


In such a scenario - we have a stark truth facing the US:

A One Party dictatorship backed by partisan agencies.

Trump may be what he is.  

Loud-mouth, viscerally unstable, and uncouth even.  

But he is the mirror of the American elite.  He articulates the same sickness of morality that every administration from Reagan to Obama has practiced surreptitiously. He lays it all out in the open.


One can feign disbelief at his idea of taking Venezuelan oil for the US, the fact is that this is precisely what all the administrations have been working at in Middle East all these years via regime change tools like "Democracy Promotion".  Read about these ways in this earlier newsletter.

Drishtikone Newsletter #354: How US Media helps America Wage Wars Globally
Waging Wars - Covert and Overt - by the United States has a formula. Media backs the establishment in planning and execution. A detailed analysis of the various mechanisms and players

Its the feeling of discomfort that seeing their worse sins facing them unequivocally every night and morning on Twitter or TV from this man called Trump that has made him the greatest enemy of the American political elite.

The Steele lies and Trump indictments

The Steele dossier, also known as the Trump–Russia dossier, was a political "research report" written from June to December 2016 which sought to create possible links between Donald Trump and Russia.  It was written by a former British intelligence official for a consulting firm hired by Democrats. This dossier claimed that Russia had cultivated Trump as a target for years and that the Russians were likely blackmailing him.

The main source for the information was a Russian analyst Igor Danchenko.  Danchenko was charged with lying in 2021.  That created a renewed focus on the integrity of the media outlets which had used this rather partisan and prejudiced information to publicly indict Donald Trump and impact the elections in a fundamentally substantive way.

Here is an interesting conversation on NPR.

In May 2023, John Durham, the US Department of Justice Special Counsel filed a 306-page report on the actions of FBI which showcased a collusion between the investigative agency and the Democratic establishment to shut out the Republicans.

Source: "Durham report takeaways: A ‘seriously flawed’ Russia investigation and its lasting impact on the FBI" / AP News

The Durham Report from the US Department of Justice' Special Counsel John Durham is shared below. (Source: DOJ)

Clearly, Trump couldn't be put down for the Russian links as they came out to be lies.  Instead the administration is going after him in many other ways.  He just got his second indictment.

  1. First was when Trump was handed a 34-count indictment in New York for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments to a porn star to prevent her from alleging an affair in the final weeks of the 2016 election.
  2. Second, is an indictment with 37 felony counts stemming from an investigation into the presence of a trove of classified information at his Florida estate and other locations after he left office.

The partisan closing of ranks in Trump's case does not bode well for the democratic credentials of the United States.

Now, let us understand how America's relationship with China is unfolding.

Losing the War to win a Battle?

Antagonism towards China has meant an accelerating decoupling from China. Sequoia is the latest victim.  What was laying the foundation of high tech in China had to part ways thanks to the "decoupling" currently underway.

Source: Neil Shen goes it alone in China after Sequoia split / Financial Times

The policies and the stances on China has led to significant ramifications from the future competitive standpoint for the US.  The Chinese scientists and tech researchers and technologists are leaving the US in hordes.  

Already 1400 of the Chinese scientists have left the US in 2021.  That may be accelerating and with that the loss of competitive edge that US had against China in the cutting edge technologies!

Scientists and engineers of Chinese descent are relinquishing their corporate positions or tenured positions at top-tier U.S. institutions such as Harvard, MIT, and Princeton at an unprecedented rate. To make matters worse, many of them are leaving for China to compete against the United States.  More than 1,400 Chinese scientists left the United States for China in 2021.  The inflow of Chinese students is also on the decline. A significant percentage of STEM researchers, workers and students in the U.S. are of Chinese descent. Should this trend continue, it could create a major challenge for the U.S. as it tries to compete, especially since China is already leading in several key scientific metrics such as the number of patents filed each year. (Source: "The U.S. Is Losing Scientists to China. How to Stem the Flow." / Barron's)

All we have heard on the Indo-China dispute is from the American standpoint and for geopolitical analysis, that is always a dangerous situation.  So let us check what the Chinese think too.

What do the Chinese think?

Here is an audio that was alleged to be of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on US-China relations.  Instead it was a Chinese blog post in September 2022 by a user known as 谭吉坷德

It shares in detail the perspective of the world from the Chinese side.  Unfortunately, for us politicians create "Us vs Them" narratives and put us all into one hole.  We are forced to be loyal to that hole.  It is not always helpful.  Not because that other side (the other hole) is some saintly existence but because these politicians which push us to one end are compromised as well.  

With that thought one should approach the whole situation that the world is in today.

The link for the blog post that probably inspired this video is given below.  You should translate it into English via the Chrome tool for translation.


It may be more profitable to watch the video instead.


So where does that leave us geopolitically?

Which way for Modi?

Being a NATO ally gets one nothing.  Ask the French.

The American expansionist attitude backed by unilateral laws like Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the American Patriots Act 2001 or the use of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is being recognized by many allies and otherwise as draconian.

US is aiming not to be just a superpower but a hyperpower.

Even when the world is looking at a multi-polar scenario and approaching it as such.

This shows a complete misreading of geopolitics.

Given the US stance and power games, it is obvious that US does not seek partnerships across the globe.  It seeks obsequiousness.

India is one of the most heavily surveilled country by the National Security Agency of the United States.

Source: "India among top targets of spying by NSA" / The Hindu

In such a scenario, to align with the United States will not just give away all the freedom that India may have in its geopolitical ways, but also close all the avenues for redressal.

At least currently India can work with the Russians and even the Chinese on its own strength, but aligning with the US completely closes all options.

India, given its position in the global economy as well as the overall geopolitical power structure, is a pole in its own right today.  And if it is so, then aligning completely with either US or Russia or China is to sell itself short.  But more importantly it is to mortgage its future to the idiosyncrasies of one hegemonic power or the other.  

This is precisely what India' foreign minister Dr. Jaishankar has been stating forcefully.


India is standing on its own ground.  Not on any "one side of the fence".

So when the red carpet is laid out in public for the Indian PM Modi, while hypocritical lectures are unleashed within closed doors on Democracy, Freedom and all the rest of it; Modi may well disappoint those who imagine another imperial conquest of India.

What Modi however gets to keep the balance of power versus the influence of Russians from the US will be the only point of excitement.

The world today is a lonely relationship Tinder account.  

Who you work with and how will determine not just your mental health but overall well-being.  No one is here for charity or altruism out of "goodness of heart".

Video Corner: Chinese Debt Trap

Just as the US has its debt ceiling crisis, China has one too.  It is becoming a crisis as well.  We have discussed the economic situation in China sometime back.

Drishtikone Newsletter #353: The Chinese Ponzi Economy
Mortgage Revolt due to real estate crisis in China has hit the banks hard. Manufacturing sector is reeling. Is China a giant Ponzi scheme waiting to unravel?

Palki Sharma at Vantage discusses it.  It is interesting to see where the world's power stand within.

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