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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: India Faces Trump’s “Diktat”

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Narendra Modi © clicksabhi

July 02, 2018 11:28 EDT

India sees crucial decisions for its economy dictated from Washington.

When US President Donald Trump makes unilateral decisions without taking into account the advice of others, they often have multilateral effects. The Times of India reports that the Indian government is currently scrambling to obey Trump’s “diktat to stop buying crude from Iran after November 4.”

Here is today’s 3D definition:


A reasoned decision by a political leader that takes no account of other people’s reasoning, especially the reasoning of those who will be most directly affected 

Contextual note

International relations ideally involve building relationships and, whenever differences can be resolved, arriving at a consensus or compromise. One India sums up the dilemma for the nation: “While on the one hand, India definitely can’t offend President Trump by not following his latest diktat, on the other hand, India will face a huge energy crisis if its stops oil import from Iran.”

Western media, with rare exceptions, appear to have banished the word “diktat” from their vocabulary. It appears to contradict the idea of democracy and no one in the mainstream media wants to imagine that that the US is actually drifting toward a dictatorship. On the other hand, with the Trump administration, the Western media have begun following the Indian example and discreetly slipping the term diktat into their vocabulary.

In October 2017, The New Yorker dared to use the word in an article on the Trump administration’s anti-Obamacare order that stopped “with immediate effect, billions of dollars in payments to insurers that help keep the cost of health coverage affordable for about seven million low-to-middle-income families.” The article goes on to say, “Repeatedly frustrated in the legislative arena, [Trump] settled on this spiteful act of diktat.”

As president, Trump does have the power to issue executive orders, a procedure that, as the less inhibited commentators in Quora point out, literally translates as diktat. Executive orders, though clearly short-circuiting the traditional legislative process, have a real function within the political culture of the United States. But when the effect they produce extends beyond the US, we should be ready to describe them either as interference with national sovereignty or the exercise of neocolonial control.

Here is what The Times of India says about Trump’s diktat: “But the sound bytes [sic] emanating from Washington leave little doubt that India may have very little room for manoeuvre and may have to stop Iranian oil flowing onto its refineries.” When a nation agrees to undermine its own existing strategies because of sound bites, we can assume that there is more than just a wish to please. India is ready to take down Trump’s dictation.

Historical note

As Fair Observer’s founder, Atul Singh, never tires of telling us, India is the most colonized country in history: by the Turks, Mughals, the British and, more recently, neo-colonized by the US. The invasions and conquests produced a culture of deference to more powerful economic masters or, euphemistically, “partners,” though given what we know about a lot of Indian politicians, the case could be made for calling them “partners in crime.”

Although India has more than three times the population of the US, it clearly acts as an embarrassed child to the admonishments of the US, even when delivered in the form of “sound bites.” The Hindustan Times revealed last week that “India … has decided to address the Trump administration’s concerns by buying oil and gas worth $4 billion a year from the US and also facilitating the purchase of 300 civilian jets worth $40 billion” at the same time as its diplomats were left wondering why the US suddenly postponed the “2+2 talks” planned for July 6.

In other news, we discover that the US president doesn’t have a monopoly on diktats, even within the US. According to Associated Press, “Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday [June 28] bowed to pressure from beverage companies and reluctantly banned local taxes on soda for the next 12 years.”

Once upon a time, local governments had the ability to implement measures to protect public health and to raise taxes for the needs of the community. That represented in some essential way the ideal of American democracy. This incident reveals — perhaps more clearly event than the Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United — that a revolution has occurred. The American Beverage Association, “which represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and others,” will not allow local governments to legislate in the interest of their communities if that means hurting their prospects for profit.

The article explains the original form of political blackmail they have chosen to deploy. Like India with regard to Trump, California must bend to the dictates if not the diktats of those who are better at defending their particular interests.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy. 

Photo Credit: clicksabhi /

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