The Trump years weren’t really bad years where India was concerned. He took a wrecking ball to most relationships – he divided America, left Europe traumatised, the Middle East confused, Africa abandoned and Russia with mixed feelings. India stayed in play and afloat, and Trump didn’t stay up nights to tweet against us, even as he took transactionalism to new lows. But he took the scales off of American eyes where China was concerned.
President Biden took that inchoate sense of competition and, in the past six months, has crafted a strategist’s foreign policy. The pieces are slowly falling into place. India got a deeper look at what that might mean this week, when Antony Blinken, Biden’s cerebral Secretary of State, spent some quality time with S Jaishankar, Ajit Doval and PM Narendra Modi. From the Quad, Afghanistan and Indo-Pacific to emerging technologies, Blinken and India covered a lot of ground.
Blinken set the cat among the pigeons by saying that if the Taliban takes Kabul by force, with abuse and violence, theirs would be a “pariah” state. Blinken’s Afghanistan position brings the US closer to India, which raised the legitimacy question when Jaishankar spoke at the UNSC. It came as Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister was meeting a nine-member Taliban delegation led by Mullah Baradar in Beijing.
The Taliban focus was to get China to pledge “non-interference”, China’s to get Taliban to “fight” and clear out the Uyghur group, ETIM.