Dr. Kurt Campbell: The Critical, Crucial Member In the Quad is India

Washington, DC – During an event hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) today, White House National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Dr. Kurt Campbell said he was “very bullish about the future with India.” In a discussion on ‘Beyond AUKUS and the Quad: What’s Next for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy’, Campbell stressed the importance of India, who is the only Quad member who is not a formal US treaty ally.

“I think we all recognize the critical, crucial member in the Quad is India. We are determined to do what we can, in the bilateral context, to build relations,” said Campbell. He added that the origins of a closer partnership between the US and India began in the Bush administration and that people to people connectivity between the two nations has really manifested much more clearly in a bipartisan way over a succession of administrations.

Successive US administrations have recognized that “a key fulcrum player on the global stage in the 21st century will be India,” commented Campbell. “The broad sweep of history has brought us together.”

“This is a moment for thinking creatively and strategically about what’s possible” between the U.S. and India, said Campbell.

The consensus of the four members of the Quad is that it is appropriate to be considered as an informal gathering, said Campbell, adding that they will not be taking steps in the near term to institutionalize. Campbell emphasized that the Quad is actually about promoting the common good, and “It is about deliverables that are of interest to the peoples of the Indo-Pacific.”

President Biden hosted the first in person Quad Leaders Summit on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. The leaders underscored their dedication towards working with ASEAN and its member states—the heart of the Indo-Pacific region—in practical and inclusive ways. The Quad committed to donating 1.2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, establishing a semiconductor supply-chain initiative, forming a green-shipping network, establishing a clean-hydrogen partnership, and launched a Quad fellowship that will sponsor 100 students per year—25 from each Quad country—to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at leading STEM graduate universities in the United States. The leaders discussed a common approach to emerging technologies, cyber security and addressing the challenge of climate change. They agreed to “closely coordinate our diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan and will deepen our counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in the months ahead in accordance with UNSCR 2593.”

The next Quad leaders summit will take place in Japan in 2022.

US Still Contemplating Vaccines for Other Nations

Washington, DC – The United States is in the planning stage on the decision to send vaccines to other countries, and hence no quantity has been sanctioned for going to India or any other country, according to Jalina Porter, the Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department.

Answering a question from IAT (Tejinder Singh), Spokesperson Porter told Journalists on Wednesday (May 19) during the daily State Department briefing, “The United States will send 80 million U.S. vaccines to help countries battling the pandemic by the end of June of this year.”

Porter elaborated, “This equates to all that’s manufactured – 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses – as soon as they’re reviewed by the FDA, as well as another 20 million doses that are authorized for use in the United States. We’ll continue to donate from our excess supply as that supply is delivered to us.”

On the allotment to various countries, Porter added, “As far as distribution, we’ll have more to say about how they’re distributing the vaccines in the coming weeks.”

The United States recently advised its citizens to leave India as soon as possible as the country battles a devastating second coronavirus wave.

India has been breaking global records with daily new infections and single-day death tolls. With visual reports of dead bodies floating down the rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna, the rural population is exponentially affected by the epidemic.

Moreover, the Level 4 “do not travel” advisory, the highest of its kind issued by the Department of State, reflected the severity of the problem in India.

Israel – Palestine Conflict: US Coordinating with Egyptians and others for Ceasefire Efforts

Washington, DC – The United States on Friday (May 14) admitted being in touch with Middle Eastern countries and encouraging efforts by allies, especially Egypt, to bring about a much needed ceasefire to the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestine forces.

Answering a question from IAT (Tejinder Singh), Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department briefing told journalists: “We are actively engaging Egypt as well as other regional partners to work towards achieving a sustainable calm in the region.”

Earlier answering other questions on the subject of escalating violence Porter said, “We remain deeply concerned about the current violence, and we are working towards achieving a sustainable calm.”

On the question of Deputy Assistant Secretary Hady Amr’s trip in the region, she said, “He is in Israel and the West Bank to engage with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. As you know that Amr has decades of experience in this issue. His trip is a part of an ongoing high-level engagement by senior US officials on these critical issues. But while he’s there, he’ll reinforce our message that we have stressed in many senior level engagements with the parties and other stakeholders this past week, which of course namely achieving a sustainable calm.”

According to a readout of the call, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukry, with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, while condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian territory, called for both sides to avoid escalation and resorting to military means.

The call seems to have fallen on deaf ears for many reasons. Internal political equations are simmering as a new government forming process has been shelved and the present Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nothing but a lame duck leader. There is talk from his supporters to keep him in the leadership position as the country faces this crisis.

This points to a simple answer for an eternal question asked by investigative journalists: Who benefits the most?

But when a journalist posed a question that Prime Minister Netanyahu may be using this crisis in order to bolster his domestic political standing as “There is no formal government. He’s in essence a prime – a lame duck prime minister right now. The efforts for Yair Lapid to form a government have been suspended because of the violence, and now Naftali Bennett, who is one of the prime minister’s supporters, is suggesting that perhaps Netanyahu should just simply stay in office open ended regardless of the last election’s results because of this existential threat to Israel’s security,” Porter gave an interesting answer.

Porter said she didn’t “have anything to offer specifically on your comment to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” but added, “As far as being concerned, I will say that we are deeply concerned about the current violence, and of course are working to achieving a sustainable calm. And this is what we’re encouraging from our side.Of course, we’ve been very clear that Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks into civilian areas of Israel are completely unacceptable and that they must cease.”

The State Department spokesperson continued, “Israel has the right to defend itself from these rocket attacks, and both Israelis and Palestinians – I will just leave it there and kind of just reiterate that we are concerned. It remains that we’re deeply concerned about the violence that’s happening right now.”

The second equally important factor is the announcement from the administration of US President Joe Biden to engage with Iranians again and restore the nuclear deal.

With Hamas allegedly funded and supported by Iranian elements, its escalation of conflict with Israel is set to decelerate Iranian nuclear deal talks.

According to reports, Egypt’s diplomatic team is on the ground in Israel after talking to Hamas leaders.

The US state department in its staple statement reiterated the right of Israel to defend itself but failed to address the slow but steady grabbing of Palestinian land.

Even in this conflict one thing is certain, Palestinian infrastructure is going to suffer. The point to note is that most of it is funded and constructed with the large hearted and humanitarian efforts of the European Union.

Time for the European Union, especially the European Commission and the members of the European Parliament to bring a strong voice to the table so this off-on destruction can be stopped and peace can prevail.

US Refuses to Comment on Turkey-Pakistan-China Nexus

Washington, DC – The United States has no comments on the various reports in regional and international media which allege a growing interest of Turkey, Pakistan and China to collaborate in sharing and developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the regular State Department briefing on Friday (May 7), IAT (Tejinder Singh) posed the question: “What is the US reaction to reports over last few weeks about the emergence of a China-Pakistan-Turkey nexus on nuclear proliferation, and Pakistan coordinating on capacity-building of the three countries which has been flagged by watchdogs and media? And we all know about Turkish President Erdogan has been quoted as expressing his desperation on developing the caliphate atom bomb to fulfill his neo-Ottoman aspirations. So what is the US reaction to these reports?”

In response Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US State Department told journalists during the daily State Department briefing, “We have no – nothing to announce on these reports at this time.”

Interesting to note that Selcan Hacaoglu writing in a Bloomberg report titled, “Turkey Widens War Tech Hunt by Tapping Pakistan’s China Ties,” noted: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed “very serious potential” for collaboration with Pakistan on defense projects, and top defense officials have met in recent months.”

The report further said: “A deal would get NATO-member Turkey closer to some of China’s military technology. Pakistan builds its JF-17 fighter jets with China and is said to have adapted Chinese designs for its Shaheen ballistic missile.”

Another report by Paul Antonopoulos in Greek City Times listed a number of meetings between Pakistani and Turkish top army brass, including Pakistan’s Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Nadeem Raza who visited Turkey from March 27th to April 2nd.

Antonopoulos wrote: “It is pertinent to note that reportage in the press on all these meetings mentioned that defence production was one of the main agendas, with aerial vehicles and nuclear proliferation being the target areas.”

“The emergence of a China-Pakistan-Turkey nexus on nuclear proliferation and Pakistan coordinating on capacity building of the three countries has already been flagged by watchdogs and media,” added the Greek City Times report.

US reiterates Call to Burmese Junta to Restore Democracy

Washington, DC – The United States reiterated its call to the Burmese military to restore democracy in the country, but refused to name and shame countries who are supporting the junta.

Answering a question from IAT, Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter told Journalists during the daily State Department briefing, “Since day one, we have called on the military to reverse its course, cease all of its violence against the people of Burma, release leaders and – leaders and all those who were unjustly detained. And we’ll continue to respect the will of the people of Burma.”

Asked to elaborate on the statement at G7, where US Secretary Blinken urged all countries to reconsider economic ties to the Burmese military, Spokesperson Porter said, “We certainly won’t put any labels on any countries from here, but when it comes to the people of Burma, we will continue to underscore that the people of Burma have made clear that they reject the military rule.”

Hundreds of protestors across Burma have been killed since the February 1 military coup. There are protests taking place across the nation since the military seized control of the South East Asian country and declared a year-long state of emergency. There are also protests happening in Washington, DC, where Burmese diaspora is protesting in front of the Chinese embassy and monuments of national interest.

Stop Asian Hate Crimes

Washington, DC – It’s been more than a year since the pandemic took hold of North America, and it has been almost the same amount of time that an infodemic of misinformation and fear mongering has been spreading, leading to an increase in hate crimes against Asians in the United States.

An analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, shows anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 145 percent in 2020 with the first spike occurring in March and April amidst a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic.

In addition to politicians labeling COVID-19 as the ‘China Virus’ and Kung Flu, a recent tweet by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee adds fuel to the fire of anti-Asian hate: “I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese. Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to @MLB games. Ain’t America great?”

The problem is much deeper as Senator Tammy Duckworth expressed in a tweet, “The attacks, stabbings, shootings—we’ve seen similar veins of this discrimination against our fellow Americans before. From segregation to immigration to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Uproot this racism. End the prejudice. #StopAsianHate.” Senator Duckworth – an Iraq War Veteran, and Purple Heart recipient who served in the US Army for 23 years, still gets asked, where are you really from?

While reporting on President Biden and Vice President Harris’ reaction to the Atlanta attacks, Paris Huang, White House correspondent for Voice of America, shared a disturbing incident on social media. We are quoting his tweets:

“Ironically this happened the day everyone is talking about prejudice against #AAPI . Behind this photo was a disturbing experience. I was getting ready for my TV live shot at BLM (Black Lives Matter) Plaza, 3 female Korean reporters were setting up at my left. Two people, the man was filming with an … iPad, the woman w/ a microphone, self-identified as “independent media”, asked the female reporters: “Are you Korean or Chinese?” then interrupted their work, told them: “We are American, you are foreigners, we have the right to stop you from filming our White House”.”

“In my crew were 3 men, Asian, Latino & Middle Eastern. I told my camera crew I think they will come back when they hear me speak in Mandarin. I went live at 6PM, started my broadcast in Mandarin, talking about President & VP’s reaction to the Atlanta shooting, those 2 came back”

“… got really close to me ’cause I can hear them talking loudly & disruptivly right next to me when I was on air. 1 of my crew stopped them & shielded me w/ his body. We packed & left quickly. I am really disturbed. Hope my @aaja brothers & sister never have to encounter the same.”

We stand with the Asian American community. We all have a responsibility to stand up to false and divisive statements, erroneous claims and misinformation whenever we come across it. Let’s all take action to #StopAsianHate.