Will Biden’s Best Salesman Charm India Into The Arms Of The US?

Biden’s best salesman, US National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan, has been sent to try to charm India into the arms of the US.

US President Joe Biden’s administration is working overtime to give top billing to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to the US from June 21 to 24 in a key election campaign year. The visit will be Modi’s sixth to the US since he assumed office in 2014.

Biden wants to present Modi’s upcoming trip as being bigger than the Indian premier’s Manhattan moment in 2014 when he was hosted by Barack Obama, and Howdy, Modi! in 2019 during the Trump administration.

To that end Biden sent his trusted aide, US National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan, to New Delhi on a two-day trip on Tuesday, to lay the groundwork for the high-profile event, and build upon last week’s visit to India by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.  

Prominent Indian geopolitical commentator, C Raja Mohan, has suggested that Sullivan’s visit may pave the way for Modi’s Deng Xiaoping moment in leveraging India’s unique situation into significant gains for the country. However, the current global churn is many times removed from the visionary Chinese leader’s time in office last century, and the US is more transparent in its efforts to create a unipolar world order.

Sullivan’s agenda

Economic cooperation is at the heart of the Sullivan’s India trip. The top US security official held talks with Modi, his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, and minister for external affairs, Dr Subramanyam Jaishankar, on a range of issues that go beyond the optics of bilateral diplomacy. Doval and Sullivan also attended the second Track 1.5 dialogue on the Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) initiative, which was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

They unveiled an ambitious roadmap for Indo-US collaboration in seven specific hi-technology areas, including semiconductors, next-generation telecommunications, artificial intelligence and defense.

Sullivan said the iCET is about people-to-people relationships, building skills, trust and confidence between the societies and governments of the two countries. He said it is also a way to deepen defense cooperation that will help both the countries strategically and economically. 

Meanwhile, Modi’s upcoming US visit has been heralded as a new era of “future ties” amid a “robust outcome document” that is in the works. However, the underlying motive is the desperate US desire to gain access to one of the biggest markets in the world following its deteriorating trade and diplomatic ties with the world’s second biggest economy – China.

Sullivan is playing the role of a traveling salesman, hawking US interests in key global capitals much like before his elevation to the NSA.

On this trip, he pulled out all stops to impress upon the Modi government the ease of doing business with the Biden administration, which is all but a lame duck, ahead of a key election to be held later this year.  

During the two-day China–Central Asia summit in the historic city of Xi’an, Chinese President Xi Jinping called out the U.S. for instigating color revolutions.

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