The following blog post appeared on Order from Chaos, a blog of the Brookings Institution, on 28 April, 2017. The full text can be found here.
Donald Trump’s first 100 days has witnessed some actual attempts to follow through on his campaign rhetoric. There was the poorly-worded executive order on immigration (the so-called “Muslim ban”), his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and an executive order on Buy American, Hire American. At the same time, confusion has reigned with the sudden replacement of his national security advisor, his walking back on matters such as NATO, and the continued absence of senior policymakers below his cabinet. These factors have contributed to several uncertainties concerning American openness (which is really what makes American great), his China policy, his counterterrorism priorities, and his approach to global governance.
While continuing to try to engage with the White House, countries like India have little choice but to deepen their outreach to the U.S. Congress, state governments, and the American private sector. At the same time, other partners—not least Europe and Japan, but also in some respects Russia and China—have grown in relevance from New Delhi’s point of view. In the long run, a partnership with the United States is still necessary and beneficial. But in the short run, India still needs a backup plan.