Trump's Rumored India Ambassador Says Globalization Advances U.S. Interests

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that President-elect Donald Trump is considering naming Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as the next United States ambassador to India. A well-known expert on South Asia, the Mumbai-born Tellis has previously served as senior adviser to the undersecretary of state for political affairs and senior adviser to the ambassador at the U.S. embassy in Delhi.

If nominated and confirmed, Tellis would join a Trump administration that has stressed a desire to forge a close relationship with India. During a campaign visit with the Republican Hindu Coalition in October, the president-elect promised to build on the already-close relationship between the two countries. “Under a Trump administration, we are going to become even better friends,” Trump said. “In fact, I’ll take the word ’even’ out because we are going to be best friends. There won’t be any relationship more important to us.“

In an appearance at Asia Society on November 10, two days after Trump's victory, Tellis agreed that the 45th president would seek close ties with India, predicting that he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would "get along famously." But during other parts of the discussion, Tellis pushed back against Trump's critique of globalization, which the president-elect has blamed for America's economic woes.

Characterizing the U.S. as a "net beneficiary of globalization over the last 40 years," Tellis said that Trump "needs to recognize that the U.S. investments in creating a system of global integration first and foremost have advanced American interests, and it would be a pity to lose those benefits."

Tellis also advised the president-elect to reconsider his seeming nonchalance about American alliances in East Asia. During his campaign, Trump suggested that the U.S. security guarantees of Japan and South Korea — in place since the early days of the Cold War — were conditional on those countries' ability to compensate the U.S. Such a policy, if enacted, would represent a seismic shift in the U.S. security strategy toward East Asia.

Tellis argued that the American security guarantees are not solely an act of charity. "Protecting this liberal international order is of fundamental importance to American national interests, and we did not build and we do not sustain this order simply as a favor to others," he said. "We do this first and foremost because it is in our own interest."

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Matt Schiavenza is the Senior Content Manager at Asia Society. Previously, he worked as an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he helped launch and then oversee the China Channel.