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Political Turmoil keeps US President Trump busy over Comey’s firing

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Donald Trump

The political turmoil that came after sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey refuses to subside with more accusations and counter accusations coming in. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued warning that U.S. institutions are under threat from President  and Russia poses an external threat.

US President Donald Trump is under severe criticism from various quarters including the White House after Comey’s sudden and hasty dismissal.Intelligence officials, Democrats, some Republicans and even officials from the West Wing are  demoralised  and his close aides caught off guard by Trump’s decision and had little ability to give  a forceful reply . A sense of unease is prevailing in the White House as President Trump felt isolated and agitated as he met his executive staff  including Vice President Mike Pence.

After meeting a group of military mothers gathered in the East room for a Mother’s Day event, Trump went forward to meet his executive staff in the West Wing to have conversation with military advisers.
It seams President Trump is in a hurry totake decisions but such risks has the capacity to blow outy of control.

Some of the seasoned aides inside the White Wing refer to Trump as “the hurry up President,” as the risks involved with Comey’s firing were far more apparent and Trump’s administration looks unprepared  to deal with such a crisis  that has the ability to blow out of control.
But the differences of opinion exists, with one White House officials asking  “Do you think we-re liars?”.Trump  reminded them about recording conversations inside the Oval Office.

President Trump then on Friday took to Twitter to launch a series of  complaintsbeginning with the allegation that the entire Russia issue was fabricated, issuing threats to cancel the White House press briefing, and culminating with a claim that he had secret “tapes” of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Come

Comey was the key person in the investigation of Russian influence iin the U.S. election and the contact between Moscow and Trump campaign officials .TRump even denied allegations of any type of collusion between his campaign officials  and Russian operatives . Donald said “Everybody’s convinced: They say there is no collusion. We have nothing to do with Russia.”

The President also dismissed reports that he demanded loyalty pledge from former FBI Director James Comey at a private dinner .Trump responded  saying “No, I didn’t but I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the U.S. is important.”

President Trump is looking for a replacement of FBI director  but Democrats argue that the nominee should not be in any form  should be connected to TRump’s political and economic agenda.

arti bali

By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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No Chinese goods in food ministry now: Ram Vilas Paswan

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

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Ram Vilas Paswan

New Delhi, July 1 : Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has said that his ministry has closed the door for Chinese products. Paswan said that no Chinese goods will come to his department anymore and a circular to this effect has already been issued.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Paswan said that from now on foreign products will also be tested as per the standard set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

After this decision, the purchase of goods directly by his Ministry and the departments and organizations under his Ministry will not include products from China.

The Food Corporation of India and the Central Warehousing Corporation also come under the Union Food and Public Distribution Ministry.

The circular issued by the ministry on June 23 stated that no goods manufactured in China would be purchased from the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal or any other source.

This decision comes after the incident in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a clash with Chinese troops last month.

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

Paswan said “Rules are being framed to check foreign goods standards. These rules will apply not only to Chinese products but also to products coming from other countries.”

He said the way Indian goods are tested on foreign standards in the same way, foreign goods will be tested in India. “We will stop foreign goods if our standards are not met,” Paswan said.

Paswan has been active in delivering foodgrains to every nook and corner of the country by implementing the free grain distribution scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) during the corona crisis. So far, 1,03,53,715 tonnes of foodgrains have been distributed, which is 87 per cent of the total quota for three months.

The scheme has been extended till November. Expressing happiness, Paswan said this will provide great relief to more than 80 crore poor people of the country in this hour of crisis.

Paswan said there is enough stock of foodgrains in the country. He urged the states to lift the grains for the months ahead to ensure smooth distribution under PMGKAY.

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Modi’s faulty China policy has cost India dearly

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Modi Xi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that no intrusion has taken place along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan Valley Ladakh has raised several questions but it gave an impression that the government is trying to appease China and confirmed that it will hide every detail of the Violent Face-Off that occurred between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army on June 15.

The situation in the Ladakh’s Galwan Valley is very fluid as the violent clash between two Asian giants took place after several decades that claimed the life of at least 20 Indian soldiers while China has not revealed its causalities.

Modi specifically said no foreign soldiers had crossed India’s borders and no territory had been lost and nor is any of Indian post captured. Modi’s statement benefitted China who took an opportunity to accuse Indian troops of making a “deliberate provocation” at the disputed India-China border and also claimed entire Galwan Valley, saying it is on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

China responded that the troops had crossed into Chinese territory and attacked, triggering “fierce physical conflicts”.

Modi’s statement has added another dimension to the India-China border dispute  and the entire Galwan Valley issue. Whether Modi made this statement to avoid criticism at home or sheer ignorance about the Line of Actual Control or in a way was sending out a clear signal that his country is not in favour of any further escalation as Indian defence capabilities are in nowhere in comparison to Chinese.

But the violent clash at the Indo-China border points to Modi’s failed diplomacy, foreign policy and now BJP led NDA government is currently facing a serious crisis as which used to boast of its toughness in matters of national security, has failed to do so.

India declared that 20 soldiers including Colonel, the commanding officer have been killed when both the militaries entered into a physical confrontation involving rocks, barbed wire and fists without a single shot being fired.

The 42 days long standoff at the Galwan Valley situated along the western sector of the LAC and  close to Aksai China, a disputed area between India and China, turned tense when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated  a strategic road through the Galwan Valley along the LAC in Ladakh where Beijing has been more assertive in building strategic infrastructure around the LAC. New road built by India along the Shyok River to Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO), the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh irked the Beijing.

India also completed  the construction of a strategically important bridge on the Shyok river in Eastern Ladakh area, close to Shyok-Galwan rivers’ meeting point, the bridge is not on the track moving to Patrolling Point 14.

But the faceoff is not just at the Galwan Valley, Chinese and Indian Armies are also posturing at the Hot Springs and Pangong lake to the south. There are reports that the Chinese are sitting eight kms to the west of LAC passing through Finger 8 at Pangong Tso, have made bunkers and posts.

Indian government, diplomats and military were caught in a surprise when they witnessed massive build up by Chinese PLA in the region in May in the form of tanks, artillery rocket and armored units, trenches were made  along with around 10000 PLA troops presence. PLA built up their tents at Finger 4, which India considers as its own territory and has cut off access to the area till Finger 8, until which soldiers carried out foot patrols in the past.

India, then, has been maintaining that talks were taking place on the diplomatic and military level to diffuse the tensions and reportedly mentioned that both the militaries have been agreed for disengagement.

Later government officials have shared details about thinning of  troops at Patrol Points 14, 15 and 17 at Galwan and Gogra. The situation was serious since the beginning  as several round of talks were held and for the first time in history a major general level meeting also took place in eastern Ladakh between the two sides, which was followed by a several round of talks  between brigadier and colonel-level officers to chalk out a disengagement plan.

The Finger Area along the Pangong Tso lake still remains a major cause for concern as the PLA has constructed trenches at Finger 4 (which India considers its own) cutting  off an over 50 Square Kilometers area till Finger 8 that Indian troops used to patrol in the past. And if PLA troops happen to make further incursions, the safety of the critical Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road will be at risk.

India has been dealing with China differently as compared to Pakistan, as  multiple incursions by Chinese PLA troops in the Indian territory are regarded as the different perception about the LAC.

This is the first time in the last 45 years that Indian or Chinese troops have been killed on the LAC. In 1975, an Indian patrol was ambushed by the Chinese in Arunachal Pradesh. In 1967, a violent showdown in Nathu La in Sikkim in which 88 Indian soldiers and over 300 Chinese soldiers were killed.

There is also a similar tense situation eyeball-to-eyeball in Nathu La, on the border between China and the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim. Prime Minister Modi, who met Xi Jinping  18 times and Chinese president was the first state guest when he became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, reflects that Modi tried to appease the dragon but failed miserably.

Union Minister Amit Shah specifically made it clear in August 2019 in Parliament that when he mentions Jammu and Kashmir it includes Ladakh, Aksai Chin and Pakistan occupied Kashmir as these areas are integral part of the country. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, since then had been conducting incursions and regular combat exercises near the Indian border. But Indian government failed to analyze it and so as the intelligence agencies.

China raised the issue at international forums including the UN Security Council. Since then, Beijing has been making incursions and even reportedly secured around close to 3-4 kms in Galwan River area but no military or government official have confirmed.

China under Xi Jinping has been aggressively pursuing its ambitions of becoming a world power and India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and revoke the autonomy of Jammu an Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has irked Beijing. China has made inroads in Nepal and Bangladesh  and the ongoing US-China trade war has turned beneficial for Beijing. While India has been making deals with neighbouring countries on paper while going slow on the ground.

Modi lacks the knowledge of China’s polity and vision which believes in policies set by Mao Zedong an working on it steadily and aggressively after it declared Wall in the Sky in 2009 and implemented Air Defense Identification Zone in East China Sea in 2013 and South China Sea. But on the contrary, Modi government has been accusing Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and the Gandhi family of Congress for NDA government’s failures and lost engaged in dividing the society to remain in power and provoking Pakistan on television debates and then boasting of conducting surgical strikes in Pakistan while disregarding the fact that India needs a different policy and strategy to deal with the dragon.

By Arti Bali

Sr Journalist (International Affairs)

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Column: It is not just about LAC – Spy’s Eye

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India China Ladakh Border

The continuing escalation of India-China tension on the border leading to a large-scale physical attack by PLA men on Indian personnel on the LAC in Galwan valley in Ladakh on June 15 — that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers including the Lieutenant Colonel in the field — is a new development that calls for a relook at our China policy.

American media has talked of the Chinese having sustained large casualties which only shows that the Indian troops did not take it lying down when aggression was unleashed by the opposite side. To India”s consternation, China had stepped up its muscle flexing at multiple points on our border in recent months, mobilised PLA units all along the LAC and launched a substantial military build-up in the Ladakh segment. Considering the fact of Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping having held several meetings over the last couple of years, the resurfacing of Sino-Indian border conflict points to a recalibration of China”s global strategy by President Xi putting India in the ”opposite” camp — in disregard of all the Indian hospitalIty extended to him on his visit here and the peace overtures made by our Prime Minister in his bilateral ”summit” interactions.

None of what is happening, therefore, pertains to LAC alone — it is part of the larger Chinese policy of dealing with the emerging global scene in the long term. India has to get this new profile of China right to frame its strategic responses.

Considering the fact that a country would not allow its military to indulge in an activity on the ground that ran counter to its overall strategy, the display of muscle power by PLA in Ladakh sector of LAC is evidently a part of the Chinese plan to geo-politically strengthen its position in the Pak-Afghan-Kashmir tri-junction that had in the historical perspective been a crucial flag mark of superpower rivalries of the Cold War.

There is little doubt that after the demise of USSR, the Chinese leadership, particularly Xi Jinping, has been pursuing the economic and military path to making China the second superpower. Its military alliance with Pakistan and the base of economic convergence laid by CPEC, both resting on the enormous gain of territory acquired by China from Pakistan in POK, give it the benefit of having an intrinsic influence in the Pak-Afghan belt. The abolition of Art 370 of the Constitution by the Indian Parliament and the conversion of Ladakh into a Union Territory outside of J&K, to be governed directly by the Modi government, evoked an open protest from China and established a new degree of meeting of minds between Pakistan and China in countering Indian security initiatives in this vitally important border region.

The flashpoints created by China on LAC were primarily meant to enable it to stay put in Galwan valley apparently by using the ”two steps forward one step backward” doctrine — significantly, this was also a hotspot in the 1962 Sino-Indian military conflict. Something stronger than the verbal consensus at the local Commander”s level about vacating the encroachment here, was required. The incident on June 15 reportedly occurred when the Chinese army men used force to browbeat the Indian personnel who had asked them to move away. Chinese soldiers were clearly trained to attack and kill the opponents with specially forged personal weapons used in hand-to-hand combat. They obviously had instructions not to move back and to take advantage of the situation where the patrols by convention did not use firearms.

There is substance in the view that the Chinese highhandedness on LAC has been timed to take advantage of the trouble caused to both US and India, politically and economically, by the corona pandemic, in the backdrop of rapid growth of US-India strategic partnership during the Modi regime. The convergence between the two biggest democracies of the world on many global matters in the post-Cold War era is natural and cannot be faulted on the outdated plea of the need for adherence to ”non alignment” that India had to adopt as an ”ideological” line in the face of a complete division of the world between Communism and Capitalism at the height of the Cold War. The policy of equidistance from both might have been alright in the given context then but the Modi government has done well to shed the baggage of the past and adopt the policy of having bilateral relationships with all — based on mutual economic and security interests, in today”s world.

It is in keeping with these interests that India has, like the US, tried to correct the trade imbalance with China on one hand and moved closer to QUAD, which is a US-led multilateral grouping working for preservation of ”rule based order” in the Indo-Pacific maritime region — on the other. From India”s angle, checking the aggressiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific is crucial for the security of Indian Ocean nearer home.

Post-Covid developments created an environment in which the US-led campaign, blaming the pandemic on China, wanted the global business to shun the latter — the Indian response of welcoming the investors who wanted to opt for India as the alternate destination and at the same time discouraging the Chinese portfolio investors was a valid strategy of safeguarding India”s economic interests. China seems to have decided to disturb the border scene to damage the environ of peace in the subcontinent and impede India”s economic recovery.

The emerging regional and global scenario makes it clear to India that the Sino-Pak military alliance and the US-India strategic partnership have become the counterbalancing factors impacting the security of entire South Asia. Pakistan had stepped up cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and was in concert with China on all points of conflict with India just as China had joined in the Pak campaign against India”s moves in J&K by labelling them as infringement of ”China”s sovereignty”. India has, at the highest levels in the Modi government, raised the issue of illegal occupation of Aksai Chin by China. Things could thus be moving in the direction of irreversibility as far as Sino-Indian relationship is concerned unless China signals a pushback in Galwan.

In the meanwhile, India is required to put a three-fold course of defence in play — continuing the upgradation of infrastructure on the Indian side of LAC, adequate deployment of troops to deal with any infringement of the border there and doubling down on the counter-terrorism drive in Kashmir. China is as much under a constraint not to create a war-like situation as India is to avoid going beyond an effective answer to repel any encroachment on the LAC.

We need to launch a diplomatic offensive against the Sino-Pak collusion against India and highlight China’s support to Islamic terrorists fostered by Pakistan. India should step up efforts to talk to US, Russia, Iran, Israel and other stakeholders to get on to the roundtable on Afghanistan. The democratic world should be warned against the peril of ”radicalisation” that Pakistan and its ally, China, were instigating for their narrow ends. The Pak-China axis is to be countered on the Afghan front and all the internal players in Afghanistan”s polity should be contacted and cultivated.

It is good that we are concentrating on economic recovery by combining indigenous production with globalisation, particularly in the sphere of reconstructing the global supply chain. India has to be prepared to give a message of firm reciprocity to China militarily, take to a punitive response to Pakistan for its mischief in Kashmir and pursue international relations in the long haul in a manner that added to political and economic costs for the Sino-Pak alliance. The Chinese have many territories usurped by them on their periphery and India has several cards up its sleeve to stretch the Chinese capability of handling multiple fronts at one go. In the new Cold War, developing between China and US there should be no doubt about India favouring the democratic camp this time around.

By D.C. PATHAK

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)

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