Republican Congressman Dr Rich Mccormick, in an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, spoke about the Indo-US relations and the way forward.
Praising PM Modi’s leadership, the US lawmaker said that “India is one of the few countries that is succeeding economically during the hard times, where everybody else is really struggling”.
“That’s all based on his leadership that’s empowering people. He’s not grabbing control, he’s allowing people to succeed, his policies are very similar to the United States. In some ways, we need to get back to those. I want to continue to see him in leadership roles…,” he said.
How do you see the progress of India-US ties in 2022, particularly after the Russia-Ukraine war? How is it expected to shape the ties this year?
I actually think we need to be more aggressive in developing our relationships between India and the United States, two of the most important democracies in the world. If you talk about the geostability of the region, India is surrounded by China, Bangladesh, Pakistan. The ability for 1.3 billion people as consumers, as producers, as allies as people who see the world very similar to we the way we do. We need to strengthen that through economic bonds, military bonds, streamlined immigration. We need to make it easier for our countries to work together. We need to continue to develop that in our in both through treaties and trade.
Many countries are looking to find an alternative manufacturing base to counter China’s manufacturing dominance that it also uses to threaten other countries via its foreign policy. Can India, the only major economy expected to grow at 6-7%, be the best viable option for the US and other multinational companies in a world, looking at possible recessionary waves this year?
The United States has a Constitution that India kind of modeled their Constitution after. We have very similar outlooks on empowering people. That’s what makes governments more successful. When you take the power away from them and actually hand it over to the people to be productive and creative. The people who immigrate here from India get it. They understand that the United States has unique opportunities and they’ve taken an opportunity that’s why they’ve been so successful. Same thing in India. You’re hard-working, industrious, intelligent people who produce things and had that much economic power…Like you said 1.3 billion people being able to consume things, create things. The creativity that comes out of their nation. One of the only nations in the world that could keep up with the United States in production and trade. And they’re friendly. They’re not looking for a little dominance. They’re looking for their piece of the puzzle. They’re looking to fit in with the world economy. They’re some of the best immigrants we had. Some of the best citizens we have. We want to continue to foster that relationship. They’re the one country that can be contrary to what China is doing. They can dominate everything from pharmaceutical production. They are pretty self-sufficient with their agriculture, relying a little bit on foreign fertilizer, but overall doing very well in that area. Obviously, doing very well in technology and developing middle class. We need to continue to forge that and divest from countries that are not friendly to the United States. I think that’s really important.
How do you see the road ahead for India-US strategic convergence? The Quad has a potential to become the pivotal anti-China bloc, but India has refused to join the trade pillar of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). India is not comfortable with the language used by the US for the trade pillar initiative in the IPEF framework. The notion is that it will further US business interests at the cost of Indian interests with factors like labour laws and environmental protection.
It’s not even about benefiting the United States. It’s because some people in certain administrations think that they know better for another country than they do. It’s the same way here in the United States. There are some politicians that believe that they should set how much a person makes in a business. I’m not for that. That’s for India to figure out. You guys have your own independent nation. You understand how to govern your people. Your people have a constitution that protects them and gives them rights. Also, you guys get to work that out. It’s not for us to determine how much you make. It’s up for your country to determine how much you make. How your industry is run, how much taxation regulation, that’s not for us to determine. We’re here to be good trade partners with you. I don’t think it’s great for our country to do that over India or in the United States. I don’t think it’s up to the government how to run our businesses here either. That’s one of the fights we’re having for the soul of American government is how much this government gets to tell the individual what to do and they shouldn’t be doing it in India or in the United States.
Is an Indo-US strategic convergence possible going forward?
It is as a matter of fact. If you think about it, there’s a mutual benefit, not just to be strong trade partners, but we need production of PPE, drugs, technologies in a region such as India, right next to China, our main competitor. We need to be militarily tied also. Think about all the things that are going on in that region that can make it very unstable very quickly. To have strong military ties within India, to update their military, to be a strong strategic ally moving forward to stabilize that region and the whole world is very important. I think we need to continue to develop those ties.
To have strong military ties within India, to update their military, to be a strong strategic ally moving forward to stabilize that region and the whole world is very important. I think we need to continue to develop those ties.
How do you see the Biden’s government’s position vis-a-vis Pakistan? The Biden administration is much softer on Pakistan and some of its moves like F16 upgrade was not welcomed by India. Can the Biden government continue decoupling of India and Pakistan policy initiated by Bill Clinton and followed by President Bush, Obama and Trump?
Absolutely, if you look at their initiatives militarily. When you sell arms to a country that has not shown really good favor to us, has done some things not to help us with Afghanistan, not to help us with Osama Bin Laden, not to help us with some bad actors. When you have a country that openly discriminates against Christians, when you have a country that has not been favorable to us, you don’t reward that behavior. India’s been just the opposite. This is both the citizens and the government and it has been very favorable to the United States. Like I said, they understand that this is not a religious conflict between the two nations. We can live very much in harmony. There is a fundamentalism that’s coming out of Pakistan that is very concerning to me. If their government’s not serious about taking care of that and addressing that and being favorable to the United States, then why are we rewarding that?
Ignoring the poor show in midterms which was predicted to be a Republican wave, Donald Trump has declared his intention to run again in 2024. What explains this early announcement? Has he rushed into it?
I’m not going to worry about what Donald Trump is doing. We got enough things to worry about. People who are actually elected in office right now. He’s going to do his own thing. He’s always been very independent. He does have very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi though. I think that’s something good…but that’s going to work itself out in the primary. I’m not going to get involved in that. Everybody has their own tactics. Trump does it his way. In the end, we have to focus on our policy right now. I’m going to be on Foreign Affairs. I’m going to be on armed service. I’m going to do whatever I can to tie us very strong in the area. When you talk about China and its strategic importance to how we move forward. Right now, they’re dominating the world in the way they’re handing out vaccinations, loaning, buying, debt, meanwhile, they have about three times the amount of debt that we have, well if I’m not mistaken, they’re not paying interest on it, so it puts them in a position where they should have a lot of inflation. But they don’t because they’re artificially controlling their economy. Trump used to call them out on it all the time. This is very dangerous to the world’s stability, if you’re able to cheat economics. It’s not how it’s supposed to work. We need to be very honest in how we’re dealing with this country. We need to be very honest what we allow them to buy in our debt, in our land and everything else. We have an honest discussion about economies and strategic advancement.
Despite having a strong supporter base, Trump couldn’t win the 2020 elections and Republicans put up a modest show in the midterms. Close to 300 of his handpicked candidates faced defeat in the midterm. Do you think the Republicans will still rally behind Trump? Mike Pence has already suggested he won’t back Trump campaign. Ivanka Trump has also suggested she won’t be part of her father’s campaign. Is a Trump-Republican divorce possible? Do you have stronger options?
If you look at my election, for example, I wasn’t endorsed by any of those guys. Endorsements mean only so much. You are going to run on your own experience and what your record shows. I think when you talk about right now the most important thing to me is to get rid of Biden I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think his policies in that region have been strong. I don’t think it rewards good behavior. I don’t think it’s strategically smart the way he’s looking downwind on the China-India region with Pakistan. What he’s reinforcing both in military updates, economy, relationships with Modi, all those folks, I don’t think he’s the right guy. I hate to be insulting to anybody, but whether it’s Trump or DeSantis or anybody else, I’ll take any of them over Biden, that’s the bottom line.
I don’t think he’s the right guy. I hate to be insulting to anybody, but whether it’s Trump or DeSantis or anybody else, I’ll take any of them over Biden, that’s the bottom line.
How would you rate President Biden’s China policy?
Let’s start with the way when Obama was President. We dealt with Iran. You don’t reward bad behavior that’s a bad thing. Look at the difference of strength when you talk about what we did in Afghanistan. I was in Afghanistan in 2016. I’ve been in the Persian goal several times as a marine. When you talk about the way we handled Ukraine, when you encourage the leader of a nation to desert the nation, that’s not strong leadership. That’s the kind of things that you’re looking at from the Democratic side of our politics. Right now if you want to have strong policy, you don’t encourage leaders to desert a country when things get rough. If you look at the way we pulled out of Afghanistan, the worst withdrawal in U.S history from any nation, we need to have an investigation. Strong leadership doesn’t start with deserting your nation. Strong leadership doesn’t come with bowing down to nations who act badly. Strong leadership doesn’t come from worrying about stronger ties to good behaving nation. That’s what we’re dealing with right now. It’s a clear choice… Everyone talks about prepping for the next stage of world politics. I think it’s clear there’s a decisive difference between the Democrats and Republicans. We stand for strong leadership, making sure that our enemies know that we’re not fooling around, we have a well-trained, well-supplied, good intelligence for our military. They shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines when we have Americans in a foreign country that’s hostile. We should be leading the way not following other countries and worrying what’s going to happen. You can’t be looking over your shoulder. That’s not what leaders do. You lead from the front and we haven’t been doing this under this administration.
When you talk about the way we handled Ukraine, when you encourage the leader of a nation to desert the nation, that’s not strong leadership…If you look at the way we pulled out of Afghanistan, the worst withdrawal in U.S history from any nation, we need to have an investigation…We should be leading the way not following other countries and worrying what’s going to happen. You can’t be looking over your shoulder. That’s not what leaders do. You lead from the front and we haven’t been doing this under this administration…
Do you think handling of the Ukraine conflict and the mid-term performance will help President Biden tide over Afghanistan pullout fiasco, abortion issue and other domestic challenges?
I think he got off to a late start. The midterms are kind of deceiving. You had a lot of redistricting nationally. We won by over three percent, that’s the first time we’ve done that in about 20 years. If you look at politics right now or education system, our border, there’s a lot of things coming to bear right now. The economy is not done sorting itself out and this is created by the government. We keep looking back to the government to solve the problems that the government created, that’s what Democrats do. They move more and more towards I’m not going to say social, it is well past socialism, we’re moving towards communism. When you have a government tell private businesses whether they can be open or closed, who they hire, how they fire, how much they pay their employees, by definition isn’t that fascism? I think we’re moving far past what made America strong, which is empowering business owners to do what they do best. Anybody who’s immigrated here from India understands that when you work 16-hour days every day, sometimes seven days a week, for years on end, I wonder why you’re successful. Because you were allowed to work hard. When you have a government step in, let’s say in France, where you can’t open your business more than another guy next to you because that’s unfair. That’s not the American way, that’s not what made us successful and the more government takes control, the less we do well. The government’s not our friend, it’s a necessary evil and that’s what the United States Constitution was based on. Empowering the person over the government. That’s where we’re getting kind of lost in this politics. We won the midterm, we picked up 10 seats, we picked up the majority, now maybe we didn’t pick it up by 50 seats, but that’s okay, we’re heading in the right direction and we’re not done. We are going to pick up the Senate this next election, I predict that. I think we’re going to pick up the presidency. I think it’s going to be good for the nation, so stand by two years. There is going to be a reckoning and I think the United States is going to get it right. Hopefully, move strongly towards better relationships with India and keeping that region accountable.
We are going to pick up the Senate this next election, I predict that. I think we’re going to pick up the presidency. I think it’s going to be good for the nation, so stand by two years.
Is Ukraine fast becoming another Afghanistan? Do you agree with Trump when he says it will escalate to a World War III?
Ukraine, we’re going to win. When I say we, I mean the good guys. Russia is not the good guys, I’m sorry that’s just the way it is. They did the wrong thing, we’re supplying them with military equipment, they’re winning that war. Russia is being exposed, their tactics are obsolete, their weaponry is only as good as their training. That’s going to be a defining moment for us and I think it’s good we have to have accountability. With the amount of supplies and things we gave them, I do not think we need boots in the ground in Ukraine. I’m not willing to put my sons in harm’s way. I think it’s good that Ukraine wins that because we need to get back to food production. Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe and right now it has grain rotting in silos. It’s not doing the next crop rotation. You have fertilizers being cut in Germany and the Netherlands. You have China with pollution all over. A third of our chickens are gone now because of a virus. We have problems. If we’re not careful moving forward, we’re going to have really big problems in food shortages. That’ll have people turn to the government to solve the problems that the government created, once again by design. I don’t think that the government doesn’t want more control, they do. We need to free up the people to do what they do best which is produce.
Do you back India’s assertion of exercising its strategic autonomy? Are we now entering the age of a multilateral, multipolar world?
Prime Minister Modi has done a good job of balancing, but the future is yet to be determined. The choices he makes going forward are going to determine our relationship with them. His relationships with China and Russia are going to be precarious over the years because as you choose the United States as a strong ally, it will alienate other nations. That’s just the kind of the balance of power we face. There are certain nations in this world that believe that the government should dominate Russia, China Pakistan, whether it be a theocracy or a pseudo-democracy, which a lot of these countries are. Whether you be Communists or fascist, these countries are not interested in what we are. That’s why India has done so well in the last year or two because you are really moving towards a citizen-based government, where you really do have control of your own destiny and I think that needs to be encouraged. But if Modi starts to become politically correct and starts moving away from that, it will fail just like any other country.
That’s why India has done so well in the last year or two because you are really moving towards a citizen-based government, where you really do have control of your own destiny and I think that needs to be encouraged.
The idea of America is rooted in equality and equal opportunities. Your thoughts on increasing racial attacks on Hindus and Sikhs? Does it not pose an existential problem to the idea of America? The Indian diaspora in America is among the most successful ethnic groups but recently the country has seen a spurt in hate-related incidents across the country, including those against Hindus and Sikhs…
If you look at it historically, for example, when the Jews started immigrating to the United States, also a successful demographic and also discriminated against, people will always go against what they don’t know. For some people, Hinduism is mystery and there’s a lot of lies out there about the caste system and about how Indians think and how they “discriminate”. It couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. You look at the Indians who immigrate to Meyer, we have a large Indian immigrant population in my district and it makes up one-fifth of my doctors. They’re some of the most generous, loving people that I’ve ever met. They definitely pay their taxes, follow laws. But the system encourages illegal immigration, when we make it very hard to immigrate here legally. In one of my counties, we had somebody put up a bunch of signs of red dot, it was all about hating on that segment of the Hindu population. It’s really important not just to say that’s wrong in private, but in public. That’s not the United States way. We are the most historically accepting nation of immigrants. People talk about the 16 racism problem in the United States, but there are countries all over the world that discriminate way more than the US, including Africa, Europe, the Far East, South America…I’ve been all over and I’ll tell you the United States is one of the most accepting, loving, gracious countries in the world. Yes, it has its problems, just like every other country, but I’d like to judge us by those good people who make up the majority, not the minority who cause trouble, just like in every other country. If you go to Afghanistan, it’s 10 per cent of the people that caused the problem for the other 90%, it’s the same way in the United States. We are a good country that believes in people from all over and that needs to be reinforced. When people act badly, we speak powerfully against it.
For some people, Hinduism is mystery and there’s a lot of lies out there about the caste system and about how Indians think and how they “discriminate”. It couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. You look at the Indians who immigrate to Meyer, we have a large Indian immigrant population in my district and it makes up one-fifth of my doctors. They’re some of the most generous, loving people that I’ve ever met.
How do you see the allegation that a lot of the western media and academia targets PM Modi directly or via shaped narratives against the Hindu faith, its followers among the diaspora and India under PM Narendra Modi?
You get discriminated against for succeeding. You’re going to get a higher tax bracket, you’re going to be limited by what schools you can go to, this is the problem with the whole idea of equity. Everybody should have the same outcome regardless of your talent or your work ethic. You talk about a population that’s being punished for success, the Indian population, even immigrants in the United States. If you want to talk about the differences between the Democratic and Republican party, one says as hard as you work, you’ll be as successful as you are and that’s the American way that’s what’s been 21:51 successful in America for a couple hundred years. The other party says no, we want to move towards what Europe is moving towards, we’re going to make sure that nobody gets ahead, that it’s unfair that too many Indians get into Harvard, or Stanford or an Ivy League school in fact any public school. We shouldn’t have too many Indians because you’re already too successful, does that make sense to you? I believe in what Martin Luther King said — You should be judged by the content of your character and not the color of your skin. This isn’t about what religion you are or what you look like, it is about how hard you work, how talented you are, because the more successful you are, whether an Indian or African-American, the more successful the United States is.
Modi’s not grabbing control, he’s allowing people to succeed, his policies are very similar to the United States. In some ways, we need to get back to those. I think he’s done a tremendous job. I want to continue to see him in leadership roles because I think that he’s done good things for India and he’s also very pro-US…
Any plans to visit India? Your message to India and its people?
My idea is that every freshman Congressman should go to India, just like we go to Israel because it’s just as strategically important. The trade and the strategy that surrounds India as a nation is extremely important. I went to India the same time that President Clinton came to India. I was doing the Press Corps. I got to view India, got to go to the Taj Mahal, we got to go all over New Delhi cabs. Enjoyed the people, enjoyed the culture, where they’re doing Holi, so it was a festive occasion…
Your views on PM Modi’s leadership and how India has performed under his government?
Strong, he has brought you guys through a pandemic. You are one of the few countries that is succeeding economically during the hard times, where everybody else is really struggling. Even though maybe not as successful as you want to be, you’re way more successful than most other countries. That’s all based on his leadership that’s empowering people. He’s not grabbing control, he’s allowing people to succeed, his policies are very similar to the United States. In some ways, we need to get back to those. He’s been instituting in India policies that we need to continue to hold on dearly to in the United States. I think he’s done a tremendous job. I want to continue to see him in leadership roles because I think that he’s done good things for India and he’s also very pro-US, which is going to continue to be particularly important to not just the United States, but to India. The strategic stability of that region is based on strong allies like the United States.
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