The visa denial to Indians policy has become a form of collective punishment imposed in retaliation for India not following the Victoria Nuland way on S-400 or Ukraine, a path that is leading to trade disruptions, famine, unrest and a looming repeat of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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As a Senator, Joe Biden had always been a team player, which means that he ultimately followed the instructions given by the top leadership of the Democratic Party. For eight years (1993-2001) this was President Bill Clinton, and from that time onwards, Biden had been content to defer to Hillary and Bill on most matters of policy. The Clintons could not be described as admirers of Barack Obama before, during and after a Presidency in which Vice-President Biden was second in protocol rank across his country. It was welcomed by Biden when President Obama adopted a Clinton Lite model in his first term, filling his administration less with his own supporters than with favourites of Hillary and Bill. In 2016, although he was the obvious choice for nomination as his party’s candidate for the Presidency after Obama, loyalty to the Clintons made him disregard the deathbed wish of his brilliant, idealistic son Beau, who wanted him to stand for election as President. Had it been Smiley Joe rather than Scowly Hillary as the Democratic Party candidate for the White House, it is close to certain that Biden would by now have been in the final stretch not of his first term but his second. Hillary Clinton was a gift to the Republican side, just as Biden would be to the Republican side, were he to stand again in 2024. Given his fealty to the Clintons, it comes as no surprise that Joe Biden, the Champion of Democracy vs Autocracy, has yet to visit India as the US President, or that he was instrumental in clearing the transfer of spares worth nearly $500 million to the Pakistan military, which is visibly making preparations for joining the PLA in a joint offensive against India. However, what has been an even deadlier blow, this time less to the government or military of India than to the people, has been the fact that it has become next to impossible for a citizen of India to get a visa to travel to the US, although such a situation remains not at all reciprocal.
A Communist Chinese citizen can get a visa for travel to the US in two or three days, but a citizen of India has to wait two or three years for the privilege. This has been explained away by Secretary of State Antony Blinken as being the consequence of staffing cuts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It may be that Blinken actually believes the flimsy lie that he has been fed by those lower down the food chain in the US administration. Those in the know of activities in Foggy Bottom claim that the policy of visa denial to citizens of India was put on steroids by Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland after her Delhi visit that took place early in the year. Not used to having countries outside the Atlanticist group turn down her commands, Nuland inwardly fumed when South Block refused to scrap the S-400 deal and join the crusade against Russia that she has long been a champion of. If Blinken were to look into the mail and voice trail of the origins of his department’s Visa Denial to Indians policy, he would easily be able to track the individuals who are succeeding in punishing several in this country who are empathetic to the US. Just as China was delighted by Biden’s 2022 pivot from China to Russia and from Asia to Europe, Beijing must be gloating over the fact that business to business linkages between India and the US are going for a toss simply because travel from India to that country is practically becoming impossible for citizens of the world’s most populous democracy. But for the chokehold suggested, according to insiders, by Under-Secretary Nuland on the giving of US visas to Indian citizens, trade and investment between the two countries would have expanded by much more than they nevertheless have. The Visa Denial for Indians policy has become a form of collective punishment imposed in retaliation for India not following the Nuland way on S-400 or on Ukraine, a path that is leading to trade disruptions, famine, unrest and a looming repeat of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Friends and relatives seeking to participate in the marriage of their friends are unable to do so, tourists wanting to see the US are blocked in that desire. In multiple ways, people to people contact between the two largest democracies on the globe is being nuked, even while US visas are available as easily as buying an ice cream cone in Beijing or Shanghai.
Seeking to fool the people of India through lavish dollops of “utterly butterly” praise has long been a diplomatic staple in the global circuit. That same technique was used days ago by Antony Blinken to mask the reality of his department’s vicious visa policy towards India, a policy designed to punish the people of India for the refusal of their government to join Japan and South Korea in reflexively obeying Nuland’s diktat in the manner expected of non-Atlanticist countries. As a consequence, loved ones have fallen ill and died in the US without being able to meet for the last time friends and family from India. Earlier, both Presidents Clinton and Bush imposed an inhuman policy of sanctions on the people of Iraq for their “crime” in not rising up suicidally against the murderous Saddam Hussein Tikriti. What is being implemented by Secretary of State Blinken appears to be a deliberate policy of Sanctions by Stealth. Those in the US Congress and elsewhere who are genuinely seeking a US-India security and defense partnership that would keep the Indo-Pacific free of attempted hegemony need to make themselves heard, before the closet foes of the India-US partnership still being indulged in the Biden White House do further damage to India-US relations. Of course, it must be admitted that such a course by Washington delights not just Beijing but Moscow as well.
Madhav Das Nalapat is India’s first Professor of Geopolitics and the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University, where he is vice-chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group and Director of the Department of Geopolitics & International Relations. This article was originally published on The Sunday Guardian Live.
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