The United States welcomes India’s rise as a “leading global power” and will increase quadrilateral cooperation with it, Japan and Australia, according to President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy released on Monday. The strategy, which brands China and Russia as main competitors of the United States, calling them “revisionist powers”, also lays clearly that Washington DC will continue to press Pakistan to do more on counterterrorism and be a “responsible steward” of its nuclear assets.
The strategy, which is statutorily mandated, identified three threats to the US — “revisionist powers” China and Russia, “rogue regimes” such as North Korea and Iran, and “transnational terrorist organisations”. Focusing on south Asia, the strategy document said the United States “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan”, and that their other big concern was the “prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange”. Releasing the document, Trump said Pakistan must show “decisive action” on counterterrorism, adding that the United States pays Pakistan a lot of money, and “it must help”.
Turning to India specifically, the document said, “We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner. We will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India.” For context, the national security strategy of President Barack Obama released in 2015 had India a “regional provider of security” and said the United States will support it in that role and “its expanded participation in critical regional institutions”. While the US, India, Japan and Australia deny it, the quadrilateral cooperation — or just the Quad, as it is called — is aimed at managing China’s rise, which has been seen to be upending rules and regulations of global order, as officials of the four member-countries have said, insisting it’s not about containing China. The President’s new strategy also stressed that the United States will “expand our defence and security cooperation with India, a Major Defense Partner of the United States, and support India’s growing relationships throughout the region”.
It added: “We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region.” As laid out in the south Asia strategy Trump announced in August, the document released on Monday reiterated the need for India to do more to help grow Afghanistan’s economy through more investments in infrastructure and development, as had been said by senior administration officials previewing the speech.
“And we will encourage India to increase its economic assistance in the region.”
Will Press Pakistan to Intensify Counterterrorism Efforts
On Pakistan, the President’s national security strategy continued the trajectory laid out by him in multiple speeches and echoed by his officials, Secretaries of State and Defence Rex Tillerson and James Mattis from various platforms. “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials,” the document said.
It added: “The United States will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets.” There has been growing concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is said to be the world’s fastest growing, its record of proliferation and fears of its nuclear weapons falling into the hands of multitudes of terrorists and terrorist outfits operating on its soil.
About China and Russia, the document said the “revisionist powers” — as they are challenging the status quo and the international order — “are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” “These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades — policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners,” the document continued. “For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.”
The other two groups identified as threats in President Trump’s new strategy document are “rogue regimes” such as North Korea that has tested this administration with missile and nuclear tests and rhetoric from the start, and Iraq and Iran. The third is comprised of “transnational terrorist organisations”, which the official said, export violence in support of their “wicked” ideology. The strategy, which is statutorily mandated for every administration, will present a helicopter view of Trump’s policies at home and abroad without getting into the weeds, country-wise, though the president will include broad-stroke takes on West Asia, Indo-Pacific and the West Hemisphere.
The document will identify China as a “strategic competitor” because it competes with America “across political, economic military and informational domains in ways not duplicated by other competitors”, one of the officials briefing on the background said, adding that the US is working with China and “we do not rule out cooperation”. The official said the US recognises it needs China to work on the “DPRK problem” — that’s North Korea which is officially Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The official also said the president will say in the speech “America First does not mean America Alone. Among our greatest strengths are our numerous allies and partners that share our interests and values”. The strategy will be based on four broad pillars — “America’s vital interests”, as an official described them: one, protecting homeland, strengthening the border, fixing immigration and deal with the threat of terrorism, including internal radicalisation; two, promoting American prosperity through trade deals; three, preserving peace through strength, which would entail sharpening military edge and readiness, increased lethality; and four, and advancing American influence around the world.
Nothing terribly new from what previous administrations have, an official said, adding however that the emphasis would change, especially in the context of a competitive world in which, the strategy will argue, the United States has not been competing as well as it should.