View: By endorsing Trump for presidential polls, is Modi taking a short-term view?

Given the volatility of the Trump temperament, it is anybody's guess as to what could happen, whether in the immediate 14-month term or the longer one.

PM Modi and US President Donald Trump
During his hugely televised trip to the USA, India's prime minister may have got the volatile Trump's support by virtually endorsing him for the 2020 presidential elections during the "Howdy Modi" show at Houston on Sunday, September, 22.. At the gathering of 50,000 members of the Indian community, Modi said things like "Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkar" and praised him for making America great again on all fronts, military, diplomatic and economic..

However, going by the latest American opinion polls, Trump's approval rating is below 45 per cent and he is expected to lose to the top Democratic candidates, especially former vice-president (veep) Joe Biden.

Granted, in the 2016 presidential elections, Trump did surprise almost everyone, including the opinion pollsters. However, this time around, the Democrats are not going to take Trump for granted like they did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton hardly campaigned in states like Wisconsin and Minnesota since she erroneously assumed that the largely-white working class population in these states would continue voting for her party.

The white working-class population identifies far more closely with Biden than Hillary. Therefore, the opinion polls show not just Biden but other Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders defeating Trump. Which, according to some American political analysts, explains why Trump allegedly tried to pressurize the Ukrainian president into investigating Biden' s son's alleged links with a scam in that country.

Ukraine feels threatened by Russia whose President Putin has annexed Crimea which used to be part of Ukraine. Ukraine wants continued American support. If it was established that, during his recent conversation with Ukraine's president, Trump made American support conditional on an investigation being ordered into Biden's son's alleged involvement in a scam in Ukraine, then that could be an impeachable offence, something which is already being looked at by the US House of Representatives whose majority members are Democrats.

Never before has US politics been so polarized, with corruption charges being levelled on both sides. The fact that Trump is the first US president in decades not to release his tax returns and the rumours that the ruling elites in affluent countries like Saudi Arabia are buying up apartment blocks and condominiums developed by the Trump Organization (the collective name for a group of 500 business entities of which Trump is the principal owner) have only added fuel to the fire.

Trump was a real-estate tycoon before he plunged into politics in the year 2015. During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to put all his assets into a blind trust overseen by an ethics officer if he was elected president. This was a promise he did not keep and he has retained his financial stake in the business. All Trump has done is to relinquish office as chairman and president of the Trump Organization whose business operations are now being run by his sons.

However, corruption charges have also been levelled against leading Democrats and not just Biden. Allegations have been levelled that, during her tenure as President Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary quietly promoted the interests of the Clinton Foundation (founded by her husband and former president Bill Clinton). It was alleged that those who made significant donations to the Clinton Foundation would not have too much trouble getting appointments with the then Secretary of State. Granted, the Clinton Foundation focussed on laudable global programmes like controlling the AIDS epidemic by facilitating a process of making antiretroviral drugs accessible and affordable in poor countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Trump's critics allege that he has taken things to an extreme where US foreign policy is being reshaped to benefit the Trump Organization. His critics say that this is the reason why Trump has sided with Riyadh to the extent of jettisoning the Obama Administration's deal with Iran where Tehran agreed to international monitoring of its uranium stockpile in return for lifting of sanctions imposed by the US, the EU and the UN Security Council.. Iran had maintained that it was using its heavy-water facilities for peaceful power-generation while its critics argued that the real purpose was to stockpile uranium for military purposes.

The US-Iran deal (where Tehran agreed to strict monitoring of its uranium stockpile in return for the lifting of the US, EU and Security Council's nuclear-related sanctions) had been welcomed almost all over the world, except in Saudi Arabia and Israel. During the 2016 campaign, Trump maintained that Iran had fooled the Obama Administration and that he would scrap the deal if he was elected president. Trump was elected and he scrapped the deal.

However, Trump's critics claim American policy is being determined only on the premise that "What is good for the Trump Organization is good for the USA". (In the 1950s, there was a saying that "What is good for US business is good for America.")

Trump, of course, has got 14 months left in office during his first term. After that, if the Democrats regain the White House in the next presidential election on November 3, 2020, then Modi's endorsement could only have short-term benefits for India. However, if Trump retains the White House, then the benefits for India could continue until January 20, 2024.

There is also the factor that Trump needs Pakistan's support to strike a peace deal with the Taliban so as to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise of bringing back the thousands of American soldiers currently engaged in operations in Afghanistan.

The USA,. India and Pakistan all have their cards to play. And given the volatility of the Trump temperament, it is anybody's guess as to what could happen, whether in the immediate 14-month term or the longer one.
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