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The Trumpean Paradox



Donald Trump

Cool towards new friends while strong-arming frenemies, the US president’s first fortnight is a study in contradictory decision-making

By Sujit Bhar

Here are some weird weekend vignettes from the US of A.

President Donald J Trump somehow forgot how bally-ho Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at his election, ordering more settlements to be built on disputed Palestinian territory. Netanyahu’s decision was to build 3,600 new homes on Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

The White House released a statement on February 2, saying: “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders may not be helpful.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer added: “The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

There has been a combined gulp of disbelief within the American borders, while Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, has been careful in what he had to say. He reportedly told Israel Radio: “It’s too early to tell… I would not categorise this as a U-turn by the US administration but the issue is clearly on their agenda… the issue will be discussed when the prime minister (Netanyahu) meets the president in Washington. We will not always agree on everything.”

Fair enough. But, wait, there is more, and it has nothing to do with Trump aide Kellyanne Conway’s obtuse reference to an imaginary “Bowling Green massacre” in Kentucky where many people who did not die apparently didn’t even get  mentioned in the national media because it just “did not cover” this non-incident. Of course, Conway apologised later for her imagination run awry, but we are here to talk more important things that Trump has done.

Yes, the other incident, that did actually happen, has to do with Trump’s new buddy-buddy, Vladimir Putin, the Russian chief executive. This was the other massive combined “gulp” incident.

US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was giving her inaugural statement when she went ahead and condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine. America’s far rightist electorate was aghast. How is this India-origin ex Governor of South Carolina making such sacrilegious statements?

Said Haley: “I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of too many instances over many years in which United States representatives have had to do that.”

Mind this, The New York Post’s observation is that this comment might actually improve the image of Trump.

Haley warned, it has been reported, saying: “This escalation of violence must stop. The United States stands with the people of Ukraine who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention.”

Hmm. So that was a weird weekend, right? Hold it, that isn’t all. Trump became Trump again in issuing another order through which he slapped sanctions on Iran over its missile test. The signals are so mixed, even the die-hard Trump follower would be left scratching his/her White Supremacist head.

That too happened on February 3.

Technically, this has nothing o do with the nuclear treaty with Iran that the Barack Obama administration so meticulously put together and Trump criticised. This was to purportedly “mark a more aggressive approach by the Trump administration to counter Tehran’s ballistic missile development and support for militant groups across the Middle East,” as USA Today put it.

The daily asked and answered some key questions. First question it handled was the timing.

Regarding last Sunday’s missile test by Iran, the daily quoted a senior administration official: “The sanctions are initial steps to retaliate for provocative actions that violate regional norms.” Interestingly, the daily points out that the official was speaking anonymously, because he “was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject.”

The daily then came to the critical question. Could all this lead to yet another war? Guess the reading from the Trump side? In the 1988 Iran-Iraq war, when the US took Iraq’s side Iran supposedly developed weak knees and negotiated peace. And the reading was also that Iran was made to sit at the negotiating table regarding the nuclear deal when it was scared the US would invade it, because there was now the precedent of the US having already invaded Iraq.

So, yes, no war; Iran is scared.

Without going into the after-effects of the George Bush-led misadventure with the “The Axis of Evil”, one must realise that the first two actions do clash with this one. How’s that?

Of course, Trump had already signed the executive order banning the entry of refugees and even visa holders from seven Muslim countries. That had already created a massive uproar with several federal courts simply rejecting the order.

Are you counting? That’s 2-2 actually. Two against and two self-goals.

Phew! That was some crazy week at office. So Trump takes off for his first presidential holiday, in the weekend. While you are reading this, he is relaxing with family and acolytes at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach. A fortnight at his job and he is tired.

That’s Trump 3 vs Trump 2.

Latest world news

Watch: PM Modi poses for selfie with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at COP28 climate summit in Dubai

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni captioned the post Good friends at COP28 with the hashtag melodi.The post has got 5,63,598 likes on Instagram.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a moment of delight at the COP28 climate action summit in Dubai as he posed for a selfie with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The 46 year old Italian leader posted the selfie with PM Modi on her Instagram handle. She captioned the post Good friends at COP28 with the hashtag melodi.

The post has got 5,63,598 likes on Instagram. Large number of comments started coming on the social media post. One user said the world is one family. One user said this is the photo of the decade and there is so much power in this picture. Earlier PM Modi met Meloni on the sidelines of COP28.

He said India and Italy are looking for a sustainable and prosperous future. The two nations shared friendly relations when the Italian prime minister visited New Delhi for the G20 summit. She was warmly received by PM modi and she shook hands with him. Both the leaders burst into laughter after a brief conversation. PM Modi shared took to X (formerly Twitter) and said he had an excellent meeting with PM  Giorgia Meloni. He said their talks covered sectors such as trade, commerce, defence, emerging technologies.

The Italian Prime minister had also wished PM Modi on his 73rd birthday on September 17. She took to X(formerly Twitter) and wrote Happy Birthday Narendra Modi. A friend committed to building the future and proud of the history of great nation close to Italy. In March Meloni made her maiden visit to India and praised PM Modi. She said he is the most loved one of all leaders around the world.

The Italian prime minister’s visit coincided with the 75th anniversary of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. PM Modi warmly welcomed Meloni and congratulated her for becoming the first woman and youngest prime minister of Italy.

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India News

PM Modi proposes to host COP33 in India in 2028

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.



Prime Minister Modi was addressing the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on Friday, he proposed hosting COP33 in India in 2028. PM Modi said  India is committed to UN framework for climate change process. That is why, from this stage, he proposed to host COP33 Summit in India in 2028.

The 28th conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC), refered as COP28, is currently taking place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.

As a special gesture by the UAE, PM Narendra Modi was given the honour of speaking at the Ceremonial opening of the summit, in which discussion will held on issues regarding climate change in the coming days. He said he announced one more pro planet, pro active and positive initiative- green credit initiative.

PM Modi said India’s goal is to bring down the emissions intensity by 45 % till 2030 and also said the country has decided to increase the share of non fossil fuel to 50%. He said India will keep going ahead towards the goal of net zero by 2070.

PM Modi will also attend three other high level events on the sidelines of the summit. Bilateral meetings with World Leaders like Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Israeli President Issac Herzog.

The COP28 conference brings together the heads of the state, climate activists, government ministers, scientists and other stake holders from all over the world so that discussion can take place and action can be taken on climate change. The key themes of the conference include slashing energy emissions before 2030 and fast tracking the energy transition, transforming climate finance, putting nature, lives, people and livelihood at the heart of climate action and mobilizing for more inclusive COP ever.

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Latest world news

US looks forward to seeing results, says Antony Blinken as India probes Pannu murder plot

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.



Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Thursday said that Washington takes very seriously the allegations that an Indian government official was involved in a foiled plot to murder Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Speaking to the media at Tel Aviv, the US top diplomat said that he couldn’t comment in detail on the matter as it was under judicial consideration, but welcomed the investigation launched by India into the alleged plot to kill Pannu.

He added that a number of them have raised this directly with the Indian government in past weeks. He mentioned that the Indian government announced that it was conducting an investigation, adding that it is good and appropriate, and that they look forward to seeing the results.

White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier echoed Blinken’s remarks, but cushioned the statement by stressing the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Addressing a press conference, he said that India remains a strategic partner, and they are going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. He noted that at the same time, they take the aforesaid allegations and investigation very seriously.

John Kirby was responding to a question about the US Justice Department’s indictment of Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, which accused him of working with an Indian government agency employee to hire a hitman to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen and founder of the Khalistani outfit, Sikhs for Justice.

Kirby further acknowledged India’s responsiveness to the matter, stating that they are glad to see that India is also taking it seriously by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. He added that the US has been clear that they want to see anybody that’s responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable.

Meanwhile, India has already constituted an investigation team to probe the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Pannun. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday described it as a matter of concern and also contrary to government policy the US linking an Indian official to the man charged with the alleged conspiracy.

As per reports, Nikhil Gupta, 52, has been charged with two counts of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire for allegedly participating in the Pannun murder plot. He can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, if convicted.

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