Trump’s recent disclosure that Modi asked him to mediate in Kashmir could win the US President the Nobel Peace Prize if he’s able to successfully bring about a lasting solution to this decades-long conflict, but for that to happen, America needs to play “hardball” with India in pursuit of a peaceful settlement that would also function as the basis for these two Great Powers’ comprehensive strategic partnership.
Reining In The Rogue State
India just did everything that “Israel” wished it could do in Palestine by abrogating Kashmir’s relative “autonomy”, imposing a draconian curfew in the disputed region, and “legally” facilitating the large-scale influx of “Weapons of Mass Migration” there to disrupt the demographic balance, and the only country that has the political will to realistically force this rogue state to reconsider these highly counter-producive steps is the US. Trump recently disclosed that Modi asked him to mediate in Kashmir, though the Indian side vehemently denied that anything of the sort transpired between the two leaders and instead responded to his peaceful outreaches by killing more Kashmiris, both of which could be interpreted as personal affronts to Trump. Almost counterintuitively, this puts the US in the best position of any Great Power to bring about a lasting solution to this decades-long conflict, but only if it plays “hardball” with India in pursuit of a peaceful settlement that would also function as the basis for these two Great Powers’ comprehensive strategic partnership.
A Counterintuitively Enticing Opportunity
The US is India’s new military-strategic ally for “containing” China, but their partnership is bereft of a solid economic foundation upon which to diversify their relations into other much-needed spheres. America recently edged out China as India’s top trading partner, but the tariffs that each side has imposed against the other in their bid to get a “better deal” from one another has sparked a self-sustaining cycle of distrust that recently culminated in Trump’s Kashmir disclosure during his press conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Khan, which was beyond embarrassing for Modi. The Indian government’s rebuff of Trump’s mediation proposal and blatant violation of UNSC Resolutions relating to the disputed mountainous territory have only made American-Indian relations even worse since then, though the US now has an enticing opportunity to make the resolution of the Kashmir Conflict its top regional priority in order to pressure India into submitting on the economic front and becoming America’s unquestionable vassal state if it succeeds.
If Not America, Then Who?
Russia won’t apply any significant pressure on India despite the regional “balancing” act that it’s practicing through its recent “Return to South Asia” because its national budget is disproportionately dependent on arms exports to New Delhi. Although these have been steeply declining over the past decade (though lately punctuated by a spree of sales), Russia simply can’t risk its “partner” punitively pivoting even faster towards its Western competitors in response to any active diplomatic measures that it might take in support of the Kashmiri cause because these would exacerbate the country’s economic problems at a crucial moment during its ongoing dual systemic transitions. As for China, it’s trying to woo India away from a game-changing trade deal with the US and into signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that would serve as a precursor to New Delhi’s inevitable membership in the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in that scenario, so it too is unlikely to take any serious steps in pressuring India to reverse its recent moves. As such, only the US remains.
A Self-Interested Pursuit Of The Common Good
The US has nothing but self-interested reasons in resolving the Kashmir Conflict, but that doesn’t mean that it still can’t play a constructive role that eventually leads to peace. Kashmir is an ultra-sensitive issue for India since New Delhi regards the occupied region as an “integral part” of the country that it refuses to discuss in a multilateral manner with anyone, yet Trump could put serious sanctions pressure on it in order to compel it into talks. Although it would be entirely disingenuous, the US could then present itself as “caring about Muslims” since it would no longer be enacting visible double standards towards the Kashmiris’ plight and the fake news one that they allege is being experienced by the Uighurs. By “putting its money where its mouth is” and drawing global diplomatic attention to Kashmir (especially if it’s backed up with sanctions or the threat thereof), the US would make itself more “credible” in the eyes of the international Muslim community.
Power To The People
Political problems such as the Kashmir Conflict can’t be solved with military solutions like the one that India’s been imposing for over seven decades, and the only option that could lead to a sustainable resolution is to abide by the UNSC Resolutions demanding that a democratic plebiscite be held by the locals in order to determine their future status. India has thus far eschewed its international legal responsibilities because it knows that the outcome would heavily favor Kashmir’s independence or integration with Pakistan, both of which are unacceptable to it, hence why it wants to disrupt the demographic balance there through the large-scale influx of (presumably Hindu) “Weapons of Mass Migration” before eventually holding this vote once it’s confident the its side would win. India is unlikely to compromise on its position even under heavy American pressure, so the US should expose the hypocrisy behind the self-professed “world’s largest democracy”.
Trump wants the Nobel Peace Prize and his country objectively has very clear grand strategic interests in bringing about a solution to the Kashmir Conflict, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US will take this historic opportunity because it might fear that doing so would forever ruin any chances of strengthening its strategic partnership with India and more effectively “containing” China. Even so, the scenario of its leading diplomatic involvement can’t be discounted because the US has come to realize that it can receive more immediate benefits from its partnership with Pakistan vis-a-vis Afghanistan (especially in the context of the upcoming 2020 elections) than with India, so there’s a certain logic at play behind the prediction that Washington might just decide to play “hardball” with New Delhi over this very important issue. It remains to be seen what the American response will be, but now’s the time for the US’ top dealmaker to shine if he wants to.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.