Once upon a time, a jackal trying to escape from a hunter from Varanasi, happened to fall into a tub of paint- dyeing his fur a bright blue. When he returned to the forest, he found that all the animals were terrified of this strange blue colour and believed the jackal to be a divine creature sent to rule them all. Days passed- and the forest prospered because of the Blue King’s wisdom. It was at this point that the Jackal decided to attack Varanasi in revenge for the hunter’s actions.
The next morning, the King and Brahmins of Varanasi were stunned to see a vast army of tigers, elephants, rhinos, and myriad other beasts lined up in front of the City walls. It was undeniable that the City would fall; Varanasi had no time to prepare supplies or raise armies or call their allies. So they decided to try diplomacy. The Head Priest of Varanasi told the Blue king that Varanasi would fight his army- but only on one condition. As required by Dharma, they would fight only in dawn and signal their moves by blowing the requisite instruments.
Morning came- and the King of Varanasi greeted the day by blowing a War Conch. The Blue King had no hands; he decided to simply howl like he always did. He howled and the animals, realizing that they had chosen a mere jackal as their king, killed him on the spot and returned to the forest.
Donald Trump was elected President on basis of a simple statement: Make America Great Again. In pursuit of this, Trump has installed a vastly unpopular immigration policy, pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (
A key initiative in this was Trump electing to field a call from the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-Wen. The current State of Taiwan was originally established by Chinese Nationalists, fleeing Communist atrocities in the Mainland- and to this day, the Chinese consider Taiwan a renegade province with no right to formal relations with sovereign nations- called the ‘One China Policy’, a tyrannical infringement that effectively calls for Chinese genocide and enslavement of the Taiwanese, as with Tibet.
In addition, the Truman administration had also pulled out of the TPP as well as stating that ‘China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the disputed South China Sea’, to quote US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
It is clear to any political observer that the Chinese Star is ascendant. Not only is the Asian country shaping up to be the next Super-power, the Chinese authorities appear to enjoy almost unchallenged power within their territories and a heavily militarized manufacturing sector. Confucius Institutes have popped up all over Latin America and Africa- spewing Chinese propaganda all over the Global South. Vast areas in several African nations have been all but ceded to Chinese industrialists. The Chinese all but control several nations and, once CPEC is active, will essentially own Pakistan as well. Not only are the Chinese actively laying claim to vast stretches of ocean- but also building entire islands in the Seas and then claiming to own the sovereign economic property of other nation-states like Vietnam.
In 2016, former Malaysian leader, Mahathir Muhammad had warned, “Can ASEAN go to war with China? We are dealing with a very powerful country. We can’t tell them ‘look, don’t do this, don’t do that, or I will bash your head… It’s going to be the most powerful country in this world, more powerful than the U.S.’
Mr Muhammad’s disenchantment with the reigning Superpower, the United States of America, is almost palpable. Through the entire tenure of former President Obama, the US has stood by as the Chinese threatened American allies in the Far East, funded Islamist hellholes and defended Islamist terrorists, and all but took over the Pacific trade ecosystem. Increasingly, countries like the Philippines and Nepal are shifting from an independent outlook or from an American sphere of influence to the Chinese.
Donald Trump was partly elected because of his pans to regain American hegemony over the World. Thus far- he has been little more than a complete and deplorable status-quoist.
Trump’s policies have softened to a great degree since his taking the Chair as President. He has ditched his former Israeli supporters by describing Israeli settlements in disputed territories as ‘not helpful’. He has also been hedging on his pledge to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem- a key point in recognizing the Jewish claims to Jerusalem. The Trump administration’s calls for NATO to tighten their belts also seem to have fizzled out- with James Mattis, US Secretary of Defence, stating, ‘At this time, we do not see any need for dramatic military moves at all’. Trump has also backed down on his threats to Australia regarding the refugee settlement question. Even the expected bridge-building measures with Russia don’t seem to have materialized; while Trump appears committed to the idea of peace, often praising Russian President Vladimir Putin in public, the presence of long-term Establishment officers like Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo has put a brakes upon the Peace process.
So, what happened? Why is Trump seemingly wavering in his once-grandiose plans to remake the American Dream? The answer is simple.
At present, Trump’s approval ratings are among the lowest any US President has had so early in their career. Protests and Marches against him are breaking out all over the World.
Recently, businesses shut down across America as immigrants celebrated an ‘immigration day’ by boycotting work- causing billions of dollars of losses to the American- and World- economy. Also arrayed against Trump are the military industrial complex and the old-school industrialists from Silicon Valley. Columnists and political figures have been physically attacked in several American cities. This comes on the back of race riots and economic unrest in multiple Western nations- such as France, Spain, and Greece.
It is natural for Trump to take a breather on his ambitious plans and try a more moderate course until the situation improves. It’s also the wrong thing to do.
Trump ’s China Policy was meditated upon three broad planks:-
- Threatening to slap tariffs on Chinese imports, after accusations of Beijing undervaluing its Currency and destroying American industry by subsidizing key exports.
- Controlling Chinese aggression against ASEAN, Japan, and Korea, as well as forcing the Chinese to clamp down on North Korean Nuclear Adventurism.
- Throttling Chinese ‘soft power’ by pulling out of TPP, and curbing Chinese adventurism in the Asia-Pacific in general and the rest of World.
The Chinese, in turn, have followed a carrot-and-stick policy.
Recently, they have been invited by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, to a Near Year party at the Chinese embassy in Washington. China is also offering funding and technical expertise as part of its New Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road economic outreach programs. On the other hand- lies the threat of economic warfare. The Chinese can destroy American exports by devaluing their own currency. They are already exploiting TPP to create a network of pseudo-economic vassals.
It can also be argued that the recent ballistic missile tests by North Korea might have been influenced by Chinese opinions on Trump.
What also goes unsaid here is the Communist Party of China’s unparalleled reach into Western Administrations and Industry. But- the most powerful weapon the Chinese have is- as the Head Priest of Varanasi recommends- is diplomacy. No one doubts the Chinese to be weaker than the Americans in military power; but as long as the Chinese can maintain deterrents and turn the Americans upon each other- as the animals in the story turned upon the Blue King Jackal, China will be triumphant.
No one knows just how many Senators and Lobbying firms at Washington are under Chinese control. One can only guess how many Western industries are also under Chinese firms; Western firms cannot invest in China’s protected economy while Chinese firms can invest abroad. Given the iron control Beijing maintains over its industries- with the vast majority of Chinese industrialists being members of the CPC, it is debatable just how many American business interests can be relied upon completely by Trump. Trump himself has business links with the Chinese; a complication if there was one.
So- then has Trump really given up entirely on his dream of curtailing China? Possibly not.
The Trump administration’s stance on Iran remains as belligerent as ever. About one-third of Iran’s oil exports go to China, and China is Iran’s top importer of goods; American sanctions on Iran will adversely affect the Chinese. In addition, Trump is also expected to clamp down on North Korean nuclear adventurism once the situation with Moscow improves.
Nevertheless, it is likely to be too little, too late.
America’s image over the past sixty years as a Superpower and the past thirty-odd as THE Superpower has been marked by a singular propensity to pursue the ideal of Total War.
America is the equivalent of the Blue Jackal king who came to power by ‘accident’- the fall of the British Empire, thanks to Hitler- and is going to squander away their massive advantages and wise rule by going to War for frivolous reasons- as Alibaba’s Jack Ma pointed out recently in a press conference. Ultimately the Blue King was slain- not because of his lack of ability- but because of the Head Priest exploiting the divisions within the animals’ army for his own purposes- just as the Chinese have been exploiting the divisions in American society- the chaotic violence of Liberals, the self-interested business communities, the status quoist academics, Trump’s own changeable and confused nature- for its own purposes.
As a result of his vacillation on the Taiwan issue and his softening stance on the idea of Chinese aggression, Trump has been made to look weak and careless in front of his Chinese counterparts- who are far superior to the run-of-mill non-Chinese politicians even in the worst of times. American weakness in Asia will, undoubtedly, percolate west to the Middle East and Russia and a collapsing Europe. Trump’s moment of weakness and his trick to force the Chinese to confrontation over Taiwan have backfired in his own face; making Xi Jinping come out as a master manipulator in the best traditions of Lord Shang.
There is much for us Bharatas to learn- both from Trump’s current travails in 2017 as well as the ancient story of the Blue King Jackal written long before Rome or Beijing existed.
Both the Blue King and the lords of Varanasi are weak in certain ways; so are Trump and the Chinese.
The Americans and the Blue King’s armies are fast, cunning, and quick to adapt.
The Chinese and the lords of Varanasi are ancient, subtle, and eternal.
The Americans and the Blue King’s armies are factious, turbulent, and confused.
The Chinese and the lords of Varanasi have few allies, poorer than they seem, and are weaker than at first sight.
It is here we must keep in mind- that ultimately neither the Blue King Jackal nor the lords of Varanasi achieved Victory. Less than a century after the tale of the Blue King Jackal was first mentioned, the forces of Emperor Bimbisara Haryanka, lord of Magadha, poured into Varanasi. His descendants would go on to begin one of the greatest building campaigns in history- with Bimbisara’s grandson, Udayabhadra chopping down the forests along the Ganga to build the city of Pataliputra- capital of India for more than a millennium. It would be only fitting for Bharatas of modern India to do for the World what our ancestors of Magadha did for ancient Bharatavarsha.