NEWS INDIA TIMES

he battle over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh has roiled the country and - yet again - highlighted the depth of polarization in American society. Kavanaugh, a federal judge inWashington who is a longtime favorite of conservative ac- tivists, has been accused of sexual conduct by three different women. Both he and Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, delivered emotional testimony about her allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. That hearing has become a grimpolitical Rorschach test. Many Republican politicians andTrump supporters saw a furious and sometimes tearful Kavanaugh as the true vic- tim; Ford's supporters contrasted her meas- ured but searing testimony against what they saw as the histrionics and lies of her alleged attacker. That mirrored the broadly partisan split in public opinion over Kavanaugh's fit- ness for the court and the credibility of the accusations. A final Senate vote on his confir- mation is expected later this week after a short FBI investigation into those claims. Trump tweeted "Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and rivet- ing. Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!" But it's not just Americans who have been watching. My colleague Siobhan O'Grady charted the international response toThurs- day's hearing, which was beamed across the world. Some found inspiration in the airing of sexual violence allegations in the loftiest halls of power. "I wonder if some day in India, in appointments to the judiciary, there will be a strict scrutiny of the nominee's conduct and treatment toward women?" askedVrinda Grover, a high-profile Indian lawyer, in a Facebook post. "Some day will indecency, sexual misconduct be the deciding factor in appointments to the judiciary?" Others saw only a sordidmess. "I simply cannot imagine any country in Europe carry- ing out such a bizarre hearing, least of all one for all the world to see. It showed the U.S. in a very poor light," a British reader wrote to the NewYork Times. "Some might say that it was at least transparent, but what it showed was a country massively at odds with itself and in no way fit to lead in the world." Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland saw in Kavanaugh's defense the same "toxic masculinity" as that of President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte - who jokes about rape - and other right-wing populists around the world. "It is a swaggering machismo that believes rules are for limp-wristed wimps; that in its most radical formplaces itself above the law," wrote Freedland. "This phenomenon stretches beyond the partisan battles of Washington DC, beyond even the battlefield of sexual harassment: it is instead a core, if underplayed, aspect of the populist wave currently upending the politics of Asia, conti- nental Europe and Britain." Nana Agyei Baffour Awuah, a prominent Ghanaian lawyer, expressed his disbelief over Kavanaugh's diatribe against the Democrats during his testimony. Kavanaugh, he told O'- Grady, "failed the temperament test, also the independence of the impartiality test for me." He also reckoned that a "cross-party consensus" in Accra would have nixed the candidacy of such a politically compromised judge. The perils of politicization have been hanging over the Supreme Court for years, culminating in the Republicans' success in preventing President Barack Obama from fill- ing the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon. The bit- ter, existential nature of these fights has led many to call for reforms to the court, includ- ing the imposition of term limits. That's a practice widely used in other parts of the world. "Many European nations have age or term limits for their Supreme Court justices, unlike the United States' lifetime appointments that turn nominations into a kind of actuarial bat- tle," notedmy colleague Rick Noack earlier this year. "German judges are replaced after 12-year tenures or when they turn 68, whichever comes first. Their Swiss counter- parts must resign at the same age and need to be reelected every six years. Similar rules are in place in Norway, Italy and the United Kingdom." Of course, the polarization of the country is the actual cause of this mounting sense of crisis. The Republican refusal to jettison Ka- vanaugh - whose testimony hardly strength- ened his case - in favor of any number of less problematic nominees has underscored the tribal animus that has wholly captured Amer- ican politics. "Perhaps the collapse of modern conser- vatism came out most clearly in Kavanaugh's own testimony - its self-pity, its hysteria, its conjuring up of conspiracies, its vindictive- ness," wrote Eliot Cohen, a former official in the GeorgeW. Bush administration and a self-declared conservative. "No one watching those proceedings could imagine that a De- mocrat standing before this judge's bench in the future would get a fair hearing. This was not the conservative temperament on dis- play. It was, rather, personalized grievance politics." -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST News India Times October 12, 2018 2 Opinion T -NEWDELHI W hen the United States enacted a se- ries of sanctions in retaliation for Russia's alleged interference in American elections, the goal was to punish an adversary, not to penalize friends. But that is exactly what could happen as India - a country which the United States has sought to cultivate as a strategic partner - moves ahead with a major $5 billion weapons purchase fromMoscow. On Friday, during an official visit by Russ- ian President Vladimir Putin to NewDelhi, India signed a contract to buy five S-400 Tri- umf antiaircraft missile systems fromRussia. In theory, such a transaction will expose Indian entities and officials to U.S. sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The legislation, which was passed last year, mandated penal- ties for countries doing significant business with Russia's defense and intelligence sec- tors. Now the crucial question is whether Presi- dent DonaldTrump will grant a waiver to India for the purchase of the S-400. Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on an armof the Chinese military for buying Russian fighter planes as well as equipment for the S-400. The United States and India have drawn closer in recent years as both countries cast a wary eye on China's growing influence in the region. But the tussle over the Russianmis- sile system represents a case of conflicting priorities. From the U.S. perspective, the sanctions regime is a necessary and appropriate re- sponse to Russianmeddling in the American elections - andWashington expects allies to assist in that effort. India, meanwhile, is keen to deepen ties with the United States but not at the cost of severing a long-standing defense relation- ship with Russia. More broadly, it wants the independence to determine its own ap- proach to countries like Iran and China, where its interests may differ substantially from those of the United States.India "cannot be put in a position where, in effect,Wash- ington decides what kind of relationship they have with these other countries," said Ashley Tellis, a former senior Bush administration official and longtime India expert. "That's where Delhi will draw a bright red line." Russia is India's largest arms supplier, a relationship that dates back to the ColdWar. Between 2013 and 2017, Russia accounted for 62 percent of India's arms imports, ac- cording to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. That percentage is declining, however, as India ramps up defense cooperation with the United States. The United States is now the second-biggest supplier of arms to India: it sells 15 percent of such imports, up from next to nothing only a decade ago. Last month the two countries signed a major mil- itary accord which will allow India to receive state-of-the-art communications equipment from the U.S. Now the purchase of the Russianmissile systemwill "test the resilience of the relation- ship between the U.S. and India," said C. Uday Bhaskar, a security expert and director of the Society for Policy Studies in NewDelhi. The arms purchase is not the only area of friction: the United States is also pushing India to reduce or eliminate its purchase of Iranian oil before it reimposes sanctions on Tehran next month. -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST IndiaCaught InUS-RussiaCrossfire Published weekly, Founded in 1975. The views expressed on the opinion pages are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of News IndiaTimes. 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Road, 29 Adarsh Society Ahmedabad 380009 Tel. 26446947 F ax. 26565596 Ishaan Tharoor Writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post TheWorldReactsToThe KavanaughBattle Disclaimer: Parikh Worldwide Media assumes no liability for claims/as- sumptions made in advertisements and advertorials . By Joanna Slater

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