Trump accepts the inevitable

At long last, Donald Trump has accepted the inevitable. Notwithstanding what he claims, he failed to get the popular mandate for a second four-year term as US president --- the first too, he owed to the peculiarity of the electoral system which made him the winner despite his getting nearly three million fewer votes. Now that he has reluctantly agreed to make way for Joe Biden, we can expect the global order to recover the old stability and even a degree of predictability.

For one, the US will be back as a prominent member of the World Health Organisation. Quitting in a huff, protesting the alleged tilt of its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus towards China at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic was unwise. It vacated further space for China. Also, the US will join the Paris Climate Accord and lead the move towards clean energy.

No less importantly, the US under Biden will relax punitive sanctions against foreign countries and other entities doing business with Iran. There will be pressure on Biden to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, which President Obama had so painstakingly negotiated to end Iran’s effort to acquire a nuclear device, but the US Congress might oppose it. Nonetheless, US pressure on countries like India to sever commercial ties will considerably ease.

The Biden administration will also restore the efficacy of the post-World War-II security frameworks, from Japan and South Korea to Western Europe. Trump had very nearly destroyed the free world consensus on fighting jointly against a potential attack by the Soviet Union and the successor Russian State. European leaders, for the first time since the end of WW-II, were forced to think of organising their own defence without the American military component, not a bad thing in case it frees some of the major countries such as Germany from the post-war constraints on militarisation.

The Biden administration, however, can be relied upon to continue pressing China on trade and other contentious issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights, respect of national sovereignties, human rights, etc. The bipartisan consensus against the perfidious trade and security practices of China in the US will anyway not permit President Biden to ease pressure on China.

Even in regard to the current stand-off with India at the eastern Ladakh border, the Biden administration will continue providing valuable geospatial intelligence and other valuable input and allow India to procure military equipment on an urgent basis, though India will not enter into a formal military pact with the US. In short, along with the rest of the democratic world, India too can look forward to the return of order and stability in the White House from January 20, 2021 onwards. The world will be a better place after the chaos and diversions of four years under President Trump.

Uddhav Thackeray as future-teller

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said last week that the Maha Vikas Aghadi members would together contest the next election to the Bombay Municipal Corporation. But the BMC poll is not due till early 2022, so, why declare the intent now? Clearly, the insecurity of the CM is taking a toll. Or is it to register protest against the ED raid on an important Sena leader who is alleged to have laundered money received from a business associate as reward for pushing official contracts his way?

As former Sainik and now senior Mumbai Congress leader, Sanjay Nirupam said, a lot of Sainiks have become enormously rich after tasting power, first in the BMC, and later in the Mantralaya. Of course, we are not surprised that Thackeray termed the ED raids as the BJP vendetta. Every politician, when feeling cornered by investigating agencies, instead of coming clean, seeks to whitewash wrongdoing by accusing the ruling party of practising vendetta politics.

That Sharad Pawar too felt obliged to defend the Sainik under the ED scanner, accusing the BJP of practising vendetta politics doesn’t surprise, either. The ultimate paragon of honesty and financial rectitude in Maharashtra politics, whose NCP boasts of equally squeaky-clean leaders such as Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, has the requisite moral authority to rebuke the BJP for the ED raids on a high-profile functionary of the allied party. But Thackeray announcing the poll pact for the BMC poll well over two years before it is actually due does reflect a sense of unease and disquiet. Besides, as they say, a week is a long time in politics. And here the good Maharashtra CM is talking of a future that lies two years hence.

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