‘Trump and Modi have profound mutual respect, agree on China and terror’: Advisor to

Washington: Kash Patel is a senior advisor to former US President Donald J Trump, the most likely nominee for the Republican ticket for presidential elections this year. Patel served in senior positions in the National Security Council and other government agencies and eventually became the chief of staff to the Department of Defence during the Trump presidency. He also travelled with Trump to India in 2020.

PM Modi and Donald Trump

An Indian-American whose parents trace their roots to Gujarat and migrated to the US from East Africa during Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda, Patel is a controversial figure who gained notoriety as a Congressional staffer for the House Intelligence Committee when he spearheaded, from the Republican end, an investigation into the allegations that linked Trump with Russia. He has stayed loyal to Trump since, is now among his closest aides and is a vocal critic of what he terms the “Deep State”.

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In the wake of Trump’s win in Republican primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire and his edge over President Joe Biden in polls, Patel spoke extensively to HT at a cafe in Washington DC about the former president’s foreign policy approach, policy on China, relationship with Narendra Modi and views on India, policy on immigration, among other issues.

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Q: Let me begin with a big picture question. How does President Trump see the world and how does he see America’s role in the world? Is he an isolationist or does he see America having a leadership of global affairs?

A: It’s definitely the latter. And look, the unique position that President Trump is in is that he is not just running for the presidency for the first time. He was president. So when he says, this is my agenda for the next administration, he is basically extending the agenda he implemented in his first administration. So people actually have something that they can go and see and touch and feel and say, how did this work? And was it successful?

National security was of paramount importance to the president. And in the first administration, he made it clear he prioritised the national security of Americans first and then had extremely beneficial and wonderful relationships with global leaders. It’s directly related. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with taking care of Americans and our country and our border and our security. And then at the same time, working with foreign leaders to help those who are our allies, make sure they protect the world from war, from terrorism, because it’s not just here. It occurs everywhere.

And I think Trump did a brilliant job running on a parallel track to both safeguard America and work with great allies overseas like India and like PM (Narendra) Modi. They had a wonderful relationship, and I believe they probably still do or will.

Q: One of the ways in which Trump disrupted conventional American foreign policy thinking was in his approach to American treaty allies in Europe and in the Indo Pacific. Could you take us through some of the ways in which he has made a decisive break from the past, which he will continue to do if and when he’s reelected?

A: The one thing I have to make clear is President Trump speaks for President Trump. But I think you will see a continuation of the policies that were so successful for the border, for taking on Iran, for taking on terrorism, for ending the Forever Wars.

On NATO, if Trump should win, what he is saying is pay your fair share, we will do it as a team. And I think Trump believes in true partnerships. If you are truly our partner, you won’t take our treasury and then expect to do nothing in return. It’s a bilateral relationship you participate in. And we understand that the US economy is the world’s leader, so we would’ve the largest share. But asking Germany, Spain, Italy, England to kick in 2% of their GDP to NATO, who are our biggest allies in not just Europe, but maybe even the world, I don’t think it’s asking that much, but it just hadn’t been done. This shook the Left. They distort his actual policy and his actual agenda and his actual achievements. We now refer to this as Trump Derangement Syndrome.

When you see victories like you do down in Argentina and you see the success Modi has had in India – these policies are very similar to those of Trump. Javier Milei wants to put Argentinians first. Modi has done a wonderful job of putting making Indians and India first and then focusing on going out and getting allies. Both things are possible.

Trump’s China posture

Q: The biggest disruption, which mattered a lot to India, that happened during Trump’s time, was in the US policy towards China. And that’s one area where the Biden administration seems to have carried forward Trump’s policy, at least in terms of recognising China as a competitor. How will he approach China?

A: The Biden administration might recognise China as a growing threat, but that’s where it stops. They haven’t treated China the way Trump treated China. Regardless of differentiating views, Trump and Xi Jinping were communicating at a level that was beneficial to the US. And Trump’s position back then was that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) can’t engage in monetary and fiscal policies and national security policies that threaten lives. If this was violated, Trump would not have tolerated it. And that’s the one thing that always hits any economy is if you take out their ability to have a financial system on the global stage. Then they start to listen.

So he took on all these global leaders from a position of strength, China, Russia, DPRK (North Korea), everybody. And he implemented a combination of policies: economic, diplomatic, and military, if and when necessary to implement and execute foreign policy and national security policy that would work. You can’t just go to China and say, I am going to take your money. That alone is insufficient. You have to engage your allies. That was Trump’s brilliance…

Q: You think that the approach will be a combination of engagement and competition, or you think that the competitive element in the next administration will be higher given that China has continued to be belligerent?

A: I think it’s going to be both. But I think what happens if and when Trump comes into power is that the world leaders like Xi Jinping are going to stop taking advantage of the United States, stop going to Russia and stop trying to sell goods and services to Iran as they know that their access to the global economy would be eliminated. It will take time, but they will take the US seriously once again.

Q: You think unpredictability is Trump’s key strength?

A: I think it’s one of his most effective postures. If you give your enemies and allies a roadmap, you will fail. A perfect example Biden just last week called the Iranian regime and said, Hey, there’s going to be a strike not from US, but from somebody, in Iran. And then the next week they go and kill American service members as a thank you to that. We need a leader that understands this.

Q: How do you see the Taiwan situation playing out?

A: It’s a brilliant point you bring up. People have kind of forgotten about Taiwan. They are so busy with Ukraine, Iran, the Red Sea, and Israel that Xi Jinping is having a field day. Taiwan just had elections. And we will see how it plays out. But I think it’s going to be more of an economic play for the CCP regime right now. I don’t think they will launch any sort of kinetic offensive before the US elections are done. I could be wrong. I think they’re just going to try to take advantage of it because if the CCP — they’re not stupid, they’re very smart — if they shine too much of a light on it, then the world will notice and respond.

Q: So you think that Trump’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific will remain?

A: So from a military perspective, the Indo-Pacific command is the largest, physically the largest combat command of the US. And having been with Trump when he went to India to see Modi, and having been on phone calls with Trump and the PM, his commitment to India, the largest player in the Indo-Pacific, when it comes to American allies, is unparalleled. And you could see the reciprocation by the PM. I can’t predict the future. I can only imagine it would continue that way. And Trump’s commitment in the Indo Pacific might even grow.

Q: The Biden administration seems to be trying to fuse the European and the Indo-Pacific theatres, at least they’re trying to get partners to talk to each other in both continents. And one of the reasons is because Russia and China have become such close partners. What do you make of that approach? And what does the Russia China partnership now imply in terms of US posture?

A: Well, the Russia-China partnership is a direct result of the Biden Administration’s failure to take them on as two of America’s biggest enemies – enemies might be too harsh a word, but in many areas they are enemies, whether it’s attacking our cyber systems, interfering with our elections, or trading with the likes of Iran and Afghanistan who are funding terrorism directly with money that Biden unlocked.

So this is all a result of Biden’s national security policy. It’s driven new alliances that are not good for the world and definitely not good for America. I predict it will be pretty rough year because the enemies of the world don’t fear or respect America or our Commander in Chief anymore. They leave him on the tarmac for hours on end. They don’t take his phone calls.This is a drastic shift in American geopolitical influence in three years.

Trump and India

Q: Let me turn to India. You went with Trump to India. As you said, you’ve been in calls between the two leaders. Give us a flavour of that relationship.

A: Well, one, it was just amazing being an Indian-American and witnessing this. This was a relationship of profound mutual respect and engagement at a very detailed level. The two world leaders were not just reading off cheat sheets, they were engaged, they didn’t need notes, they didn’t need teams to surround them. They worked together for the good of their countries.

And two of the things they wanted to counter the most was the CCP and their threat, especially at the border with India, and terrorism. The relationship there was one of the best I have ever seen. And then there’s the economic relationship. President Trump and PM Modi made a promise to increase trade exponentially. I think it was pretty successful.

Q: American liberals in Washington DC, both within Democrats and in the public sphere, criticise Modi for domestic Indian politics. Do you see that as shaping the American approach to India, especially during the Trump presidency?

A: No. I think they are trying to shape a political fight, and that’s what Washington’s great at. Only the people in Washington would be so foolish to call PM Modi a growing threat to America. It’s because this administration has not treated PM Modi and the Indian regime with the respect that Trump did. Biden made a decision to not follow through on Trump’s relationship with Modi.

To bring things really up to date, the opening of Ram’s Temple, when PM Modi went there, all the Washington newspapers only covered the last 50 years of history. They forgot the 500 preceding years. Whether or not you are Hindu or Muslim, there was a Hindu temple there for one of the quintessential gods in the Hindu pantheon in 1500 that was toppled, and they have been trying to get it back for 500 years. But the Washington establishment forgot that part of history to put on what I believe is a disinformation campaign that’s harmful to India and the PM’s position. And they’re using that because I think they liken Trump and Modi as kind of similar figures, and the establishment class in Washington doesn’t want that to be the case.

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Q: The other big thing in the bilateral relationship now is emerging technologies, especially semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum, where there seems to be a lot of convergence between the two sides. Do you see that as a big priority?

A: It’s massive. I mean people don’t talk about it but quantum and supercomputing is the next level, and people just are too busy with AI. There’s some good to it, but we’ve seen there’s a lot of bad to it including deep fakes. But when you get past that, there is this big tech out there that needs to be harnessed by our governments to say, okay, how do we use this and get ahead of whoever else might be using it to harm us? And India is leading the charge with America in this sector of brainpower. And we are seeing zero focus by the Biden administration on developing that relationship.

We almost need to do what we did with Indian doctors in the 1960s and 1970s, bringing them here because we had such a shortage of quality doctors. And India had such a plethora of well-trained physicians. We need to embrace this philosophy with AI and technology.

Trump’s immigration policy

Q: That’s a great segue for me to move to immigration which is a concern in India. What is Trump’s position on immigration?

A: Being the son of immigrants, first-generation Americans who lawfully immigrated after fleeing a genocidal regime in Uganda, I believe in a lawful immigration system. And America welcomes around a million lawful immigrants a year. That’s more than any country in the world. And I think Trump’s been abundantly clear on the campaign trail that he wants to continue that.

But there’s nothing wrong while continuing that effort, to seal the border, which Trump has said repeatedly. In election cycles, it is usually economy, economy, economy, and national security. But this cycle, I think there’s a strong pivot to national security and economy being at the same height of importance because of the way the world is.

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This article was originally published by a www.hindustantimes.com . Read the Original article here. .