US’ Legion of Merit award for QUAD architects sends multiple messages

US President Donald Trump’s decision to award his partners in India, Japan and Australia is seen to underline that it was during his time at the White House that these relationships were taken to a different level.

US President Donald Trump has mainstreamed the QUAD by awarding its original architects Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the prestigious Legion of Merit. The US had last awarded Legion of Merit to late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on September 18, 2020 as the senior most Royal in the Middle-East for bridging divides in the restive region.

The Legion of Merit (Degree of Chief Commander) awarded to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi

for exceptionally meritorious service as the Prime Minister of the Republic of India from May 2014 to November 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s steadfast leadership and vision have accelerated India’s emergence as a global power and elevated the strategic partnership between the United States and India to address global challenges. His personal engagement expanded United States-India ties across all facets of the relationship, helping to establish a strong foundation for an enduring partnership that is based on shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, the equal treatment of all citizens, and the rule of law. India is a key partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific, where the two countries are increasing collaboration to ensure freedom of the seas, open and transparent investment and infrastructure development, secure and reliable digital networks, and good governance. Prime Minister Modi’s personal initiative strengthened the defence partnership between the United States and India, enhancing the United States’ ability to secure joint military cooperation that addressed shared challenges. His efforts to expand India’s economic cooperation with the United States has advanced prosperity, investment and job creation in both countries. Prime Minister Modi’s superior effort, personal leadership, and unwavering commitment to advancing strategic cooperation between the United States and India and promoting global peace and prosperity reflect great credit upon himself, the Indian armed forces, and his country.

While the outgoing US president has awarded the Legion of Merit to Modi, Abe and Morrison for their leadership and vision, it can also be interpreted as President Trump telling the world that it was during his time at the White House that these relationships were taken to a different level.

“The Legion of Merit basically mainstreams the QUAD dialogue from an experimental stage and towards institutionalisation of the security architecture. The world has now realised that the real father of QUAD is China, which forced democracies to cement ties due to its aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, East Ladakh and against Taiwan. It is another matter that India, Australia and Japan’s relationship with the US is bipartisan with a shared vision of democracy and values,” said a senior official.

The QUAD dialogue took shape after China aggravated the dispute with Japan over Senkaku Islands, with India after the transgression on the north banks of Pangong Tso in East Ladakh sector, Australia after imposing trade sanctions and testing nuclear missiles during US naval exercises in the South China Sea. While China calls QUAD a product of 20th century mindset, the fact is that Beijing’s Middle Kingdom concept with tributary states is an imperial expansion concept of 18th century with Belt Road Initiative.