The future of non-Sinic Asia has reached a true inflection point. The new military alliance of the US, UK and Australia (AUKUS), superseding ANZUS (Australia-New Zealand-US), is set up to exclusively protect Western interests against a recklessly ambitious China in what is now called the Indo-Pacific. There is no other way to put it, but this is the old white Anglosaxon order (that excludes Gallic France, the new/Slavic European members of NATO, and even Japan, accorded, if anybody cares to recall, “honorary White”status by the apartheid regime in white-ruled South Africa, which suited the US and Western Europe fine) trying to maintain its hold in a much-changed Asia.
Having once again been militarily beaten by a wilful Asian people and forcibly ousted from Afghanistan in a 20-year war whose cost is estimated to be as high as USD 14 Trillion, AUKUS is a natural reaction of the US and its hangers-on to retain their relevance in a continent the Anglosaxon powers have long dominated, and post-1945, tried to dominate.
An impasse in the Korean war in the Fifties followed by a humiliating defeat in Vietnam after a nearly 15-year wasted military effort should have forewarned Washington about what to expect when taking on a highly motivated indigenous foe disinclined to tolerate foreign invaders. This is where great power hubris once again kicked in only for the US forces to discover that remote warfighting by drones piloted from Nellis air force base in Nevada is ultimately no match for AK47-armed groups primed for a religious war— a jihad, ready to suffer any privation and absorb unimaginable human losses. It is an end-state the US government should have expected considering it had uncorked the Extremist Islamic djinn in Afghanistan just to get even with the Soviet Union in the Cold War that had seen Soviet material help to North Vietnam result in the military humbling of the US in 1972. It is the very same CIA-funded and mobilized mujahideen who had run the Soviet occupation troops out of Afghanistan who form the core of the Afghan Taliban that victoriously took Kabul August 15.
The Afghan fiasco crystallized AUKUS as much in response to the fear of Afghanistan emerging as a potential jumping-off point for China to acquire unhindered access to the warm water ports on the Arabian Sea and, more importantly, to the ”Wells of Power” in the Gulf and the greater Middle East of Olaf Caroe’s conception. Caroe, British India’s Foreign Secretary in the 1930s who last served as Lt. Governor of the North West Frontier Province during Partition, was referring to the oil resources of Iran and Arab West Asia. It is the source of energy still for much of the world and especially China, which depends on this oil to fuel its rise as the Numero Uno economic and military power in the 21st Century. China is taking the place of Imperial Russia in the old Great Game of the colonial era, and of Soviet Russia of the 1980s, when the West apprehended it reaching for the Indian Ocean. Its rise is what the AUKUS alliance is gearing up to thwart by preventing Beijing’s access to Pakistan’s Gwadar and Iran’s Chahbahar, and to the region’s oil wealth via numerous connectivity projects under its Belt & Road initiative (BRI), including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
With AUKUS on the scene, the Quadrilateral (Quad) of India, Japan, Australia and the US, has obviously been pushed strategically to the sidelines, and is important only as a pseudo supportive military mechanism. Indeed, the primacy of AUKUS in the Indo-Pacific has been emphasized by Washington promising Australia transfer of technology and wherewithal to manufacture eight nuclear-powered, possibly the Los Angeles-class, attack submarines — the crown jewels of America’s military hightech — the sort of technology India does not remotely have a chance of getting. It will immeasurably enhance the Australian Navy’s sea denial capability against anything the PLA Navy (PLAN) will qualitatively be able to field in the foreseeable future. Canberra, courtesy AUKUS, will also be able to incorporate into its military forces the cutting edge US Artificial Intelligence and cyber warfare hardware and algorithms New Delhi can only dream about, however frightful and threatening China becomes in these realms in the future to India.
This takes care of American interests without in the least addressing India’s landward or maritime concerns about PLAN’s capacity to egress in mass west of the Malacca Strait. Because the one thing Washington will demand in return is that the Australian N-sub fleet be deployed to mesh with the US Naval presence essentially to block PLAN activity as envisaged by Beijing in the ”first island chain” and beyond.
This larger American game plan was signalled by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reportedly asking foreign minister S Jaishankar, in their meeting, for the Modi government’s permission to stage drone strikes on targets in Afghanistan — whatever these might be, from north Indian bases and, worse, to have India train Da’esh (Islamic State) irregulars in Rajasthan — as reported by ANI, for use by the CIA. That India appears committed to launching drone attacks and to train IS militants suggests Blinken proposed these actions as basically anti-China — the likely targets being CPEC and PLA units in Baltistan, and the IS to infiltrate the Uyghur society and radicalize Xinjiang, to render the Chinese management of its western province difficult.
Never mind that the IS-angle backs what has long been suspected about Da’esh’s antecedents as a CIA invention that for a time went rogue under al-Baghdadi — meaning it turned against US interests in Iraq and Syria, before recently recovering its US patronage. Assuming the newly formed Taliban emirate has approved of these anti-China moves on plausible deniability-basis because it hopes to milk China for monies and such BRI benefits as it can, these measures cohere with India’s strategic interests of undermining China every which way.
There may also be a view in some quarters that just as certain sections of the Tehriq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are amenable to creating trouble for the Pakistan army and state, the IS too could be marshalled for similar purpose. But then as Krishna Menon once reminded the Eisenhower Administration which justified US arms aid to Pakistan by saying it was defensive weaponry meant for use only against the USSR, that there’s no gun that fires in only one direction, what is the guarantee the IS, finding Chinese Xinjiang a hard nut to crack, won’t turn on India and, being Islamic fundamentalists, get on the Ghazwaa-e-Hind track instead to violently Islamise India? Further, training IS flies in the face of our own experience with preparing the LTTE to battle Colombo. We know how that turned out, don’t we?
Such are the dubious assurances Prime Minister Modi will be seeking when he meets President Biden in Washington in person on September 24 — knowing fully well they will count for nothing because Washington, in any case, always acts on its interests of the moment, and because its metasrategic interests — G-2, the condominium of the US and China proposed by President Barrack Obama to rule the world, converge actually with those of Xi Jinping’s Beijing. And Biden, mind you, was Obama’s Vice President through two terms.
Moreover, Biden is no Donald Trump, and looks askance at the deteriorating human rights and religious freedom situation in Modi’s India. Blinken has publicly upbraided the Indian government on these counts. And, no, Modi’s attempts to get around this inconvenient reality by getting Biden into embraces and bear hugs, will not help.
Perhaps, the PM can use his time with Biden usefully by doing and saying nothing of any consequence. But utilize the sidelines of the Quad summit to have a private talk with the Japanese prime minister to see if India and Japan can further the cause of collective security against China by fostering a modified Quad of India, Japan, a group of Southeast Asian nations and, formally, Taiwan (to replace Australia).
Asian states immediately bordering China on land and sea actively partnering against China is the model of a security architecture organic to Asia, of security by and for Asian states. It can be of enduring strategic value, if only some government in Delhi will wrap its mind around this idea. It is something I have been advocating for over 20 years now. Because there is no other credible alternative for India and other littoral and offshore Asian states.
What the Modi government will actually do in the difficult circumstances it finds itself in is predictable. It will join up with the other outlier, France. Upset because Australia is about to cancel the USD 65 Billion deal with Australia for the Barracuda diesel submarine, which cannot compete with the American offer of nuclear-powered subs, Paris will be only too happy if India adopts this sub for its Project 75i, and will massage Modi’s ego no end to achieve it. Macron will happily match Modi’s every embrace with a hug of his own. After all, it worked for President Francois Hollande vis a vis the Rafale fighter plane!
Based on what I’ve been reading from US foreign policy experts, their main concern in the Indo Pacific is the South China Sea and the Pacific rim. They do not want to spread their resources thin in the Indian Ocean. So partner with India for this. Meanwhile, they want a security alliance as a bulwark against China, which the Quad won’t provide (read India and Japan do not want to openly go against China even now). Australia has been at the receiving end of Chinese aggression recently and amongst the Quad, they have a compelling reason to oppose China, with significant overlap with US interests in the S. China sea. So this security alliance makes sense for the US and Australia. UK just piled on. Frankly, only the US amongst the Quad wanted a clear security alliance and they have done it. Nothing wrong with it. It also helps India in the S.China sea as other Quad members can use their resources there and India need not spread its resources thin.
I see no point criticising the US for doing what it wanted. And I maintain that aligning with other SE Asian countries like Taiwan, Vietnam, etc, who do not have the power to oppose China is wishful thinking, not out of the box strategy. Even Japan, which could be a potential partner for India, does not openly go against China. If India wants it’s own alliances to contain China, which do not include the US, it will need to first be an economic power. That is not true today.
Regarding your comment about the US looking after its own interests – India can also do the same. I don’t see why there is this huge cry about the US doing what it wants. India has a lot more power now. It can also do some arm twisting – that is what I would like to see, rather than crying about the US.
I’m glad US, Australia, UK are pressuring China on its eastern periphery. That helps to distract the Chinese away from us. The less resources China has to apply to its ill-gotten Himalayan borders, the better. Emperor Xi must be throwing a fit right now. He, more than any other ChiCom leader has helped to rally the world against his country. The previous Chinese leaders all cultivated the myth of the “peaceful rise of China, while Xi has exploded that myth with his headstrong mentality. One man has squandered what the previous generation painstakingly built up. And yet nobody in the country has the power to retire this man. Instead, they’ll all be stuck hanging on for dear life as this vainglorious fellow grimly takes them to the bottom.
Sir,Sri Lanka’s recent decision to pull out of the East Container Terminal (ECT) deal with India and Japan and cleared a Chinese energy project in three islands off Jaffna peninsula that are barely 50 km from the Tamil Nadu coast which will be great threat to India in future.
Nepal,Pakistan are Chinese colonies already.
Myanmar,Afghanistan are firmly on Chinese side.
Bangladesh is not a reliable friend no matter how much you help them.Even Bhutan which is fully dependent on India and facing Chinese threat is not fully pro India.Maldives is fluctuating between India and China based on regime changes.
Russia is already on Chinese side.US is not a trustable ally.
The so called Hindu Hridaya Samrat (who never done anything Pro Hindu policies in last 7 plus years other than temple run to garner hindu votes) has failed to win over even only other Hindu majority country like Nepal.
Big question is what has modi’s foreign policy achieved in last 7 plus years?
@Deepak What help exactly India has offered to Bangladesh lately? In fact Bangladesh spurned China to purchase vaccines from India only to be disappointed by India. Bangladesh trusted India and she ended up losing probably 20000 people to covid due to lacking vaccines for which Hasina govt had paid well in advance. Add to it the whole CAA/NRC and “termites” controversies and you have Bangladesh suffering from Indian sense of hegemony. So why should Bangladesh be grateful to India and not the other way round?
@Debanjan, you are asking “why should Bangladesh be grateful to India and not the other way round?”.
India helped creation of a country Bangladesh liberating it from pak atrocities. India provided loans to Bangladesh,scholarship to Bangladeshi students and co operation in various fields and most importantly still not kicked out crores of illegal Bangladeshi muslim infiltrators now spread across India.
CAA which is still not implemented will not kick out any Bangladeshi infiltrator and spineless modi govt does not have guts to even bring a bill for NRC.
Hindus are suffering in Bangladesh everyday.Bangladesh is playing China card to get maximum benefit from India but in return only little benefit for India.
Why should India be grateful to Bangladesh?
For sending crores of Bangladeshi muslim infiltrators or giving bad tratement to bangladeshi hindus or playing China card?
Nice article sir. Don’t you think India should go for South Korean Subs for P-75I because they use Lithium tech which is same as Japanese ones and makes it more stealthier than their Russian and French counterparts ?
Setu@ — yes.
@Bharat K. I think what India needs is to build 10+ SSBNs of varying shapes/sizes and may be 20+ Attack SSNs, all nuclear.
Involving countries technologically inferior to itself will be a big mistake. (Yes SKorea and Japan are inferior to India in terms of strategic platforms).
I cannot believe you are supporting development of battery/diesel subs.
It is a matter of economics. IN sub fleet will have to be a mix of nuclear powered and diesel boats.
Prof Karnad, please review the astute analysis by the respected Comrade Binkov:
It seems that the US hopes to turn this into basing rights for its own forces.
If Japan is like the Germany, and Australia is like the UK, then is India the Turkey?
This is what i have been arguing for years; see my last two books — ‘Why india is not a great power’ and ‘Staggering Foward’.
@Bharat K. If you are proposing Diesel subs for coast guard then I agree! Not for a blue water Navy.
With indigenized SSN/SSBN and a local manufacturing capability I do not know how the economics of Diesel sub with expensive foreign collab works out better. Plus dont forget India is rich in rare-earths, so securing fuel wont be pain either.
didn’t understand the line “India is committed to launching drone attacks and to train IS militants ” .
you mean govt already accepted this request from US??
Vivek@ — that’s what the ANI story says
Since NPT constrains nuclear weapons development by its signatories (eg. Australia) – and if a sub is a weapon – then isn’t a nuclear sub a nuclear weapon? Or are US-Australia-UK calling it a “peaceful nuclear” application, like we did for Pokhran-1? America objected to Pokhran-1, saying that it’s impossible to tell the difference between a “peaceful nuclear” explosion and a military one. So can it not be similarly claimed that it’s impossible to tell the difference between a “peaceful nuclear” submarine and a military one? Will Australia’s nuclear subs be subjected to NPT safeguards? What would prevent the nuclear material inside those nuclear submarines from eventually being used for nuclear warheads?
That’s the case made by China
@Bharath K. Imagine what Australia will be giving up for all this privilege?
UK is essentially a client state for taking Trident and other tech.
(No brownie points for guessing how compromised the UK strategic forces are)
S. Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy and other NATO states have paid dear price for their dependence.
(Are any of those countries allowed to possess a strategic N force?)
Imagine what kind of concessions the “UKUS” combo would extract from “A” in forming AUKUS Nuclear sub co-operation!
(There is no free lunch on this planet and everything has a price tag attached to it.)
India must actually stay away from these arrangements! These subordinate countries have lot more reasons to envy us than the other way round!
Let’s not beat up India too much! Our masters have acted lot more rationally than we give them credit for!
(In that spirit lets screw Comcasa and Lemoa and throw it out to trashcan when its use is over)
Australia’s back is to the wall — if they don’t get US support, then they could all wind up speaking Chinese. Once Americans put more of their bases in Australia, their lightweight population will feel much more secure. China, on the other hand, feels foiled. Indonesia will become a key battleground, and China will be meddling heavily in its politics.
2.30pm The entire tour has been abandoned because of security concerns.
According to an NZC release: “The side was to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series. However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour. Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.”
This is from the PCB: “Earlier today, the New Zealand cricket board informed us that they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series.
“PCB and Govt of Pakistan made fool proof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand cricket board of the same. The Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best Intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visting team.
“The security officials with the NZ team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Govt of Pakistan throughout their stay here. PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and world over will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal.”
This is the handiwork of the Indian Intelligence.
War is a business. When business marries legitimate foreign policy interests then it becomes a boon. The Americans dropped Afghanistan like a hot potato because that benighted land had outlived its usefulness. There are far more opportunities elsewhere. Somewhere along the way China must have crossed a threshold; of US intelligence alerting the Americans of Sino technological prowess and that China must be contained the way Western powers had banded together to contain Japan in the late 30s. For the Americans the CCP’s provocations in the SCS and the Indian Ocean are fresh opportunities; to ask to the Americans to sacrifice the sons and daughters of the Republic as well as swell of the coffers of the lords of war. For the CCP the AUKUS is also Godsend; for decades the CCP, in its attempt to legitimize itself as the guardians of the Han people, would provoke needless conflicts for this end. Now it has been given a genuine threat on a platter. There is an opportunity here for India as well; to finally settle the border issue with China as Xi Jinping will be willing to deal now. For the border kerfuffle has shown that India is no pushover and China does not want a serious threat on its western border at this present time.
It is not about being guardians of the Han people, it is about world dominance. resource control, and subjugation. Any peace treaty will be ignored at the opportune time.
Only gullible clouded minds believe that India has any opportunities without going to war, to eliminate the Han-threat completely and creating a world that free and fair for all.
Could you provide some links to the ANI news story about India training ISIS militants, that you mention.
I have been unable to find anything from a Google search. This seems to be remarkable foolhardy decision.
The URL is in a correspondence on the previous post.
“An impasse in the Korean war in the Fifties followed by …”-
In the past (I forget when it was and where), I had the opportunity to listen to an extensive interview by the former British PM Harold McMillan on the radio on his lifetime accomplishment and how he interacted in the world affairs where he spoke briefly on Suez flair up and also on the Korean war among many other events of yesteryears. In the immediate aftermath of the second world war, Western Europe was facing unsurmountable military pressure from the Eastern Block (Warsaw Pact), especially regarding Berlin as the British PM explained. As a consequence, the Western Powers had to come up with a strategy of how to counter and survive. And that was when the Americans hatched the plans for the Korean War. The Soviets got rattled whether a move by them on their western front could trigger a counterattack on their hinterland far away in the east. I guess they had to divert much of their military resources to the east and supply military hardware (MiG19 etc) to their communist brothers. And that Korean war thwarted the war machine of the Soviets in Western Europe in that era. The upshot was the Americans pulled off a superb maneuver in realpolitik in those days in neutralizing the Soviet’s war machine in Western Europe. Seen in this light the Korean war a great success in America’s statecraft.
More plausibly, the then North Korean strongman Kim Jong-son’s push forcibly to unify Korea and advancing his Soviet and Chinese-supported army south of the 38th Parallel precipitated US Pres Harry Truman’s decision to enter that war.
Ultimately to bring the Chinese Juggernaut out into the open and eventually making India the first country to be pushed under it. Some statecraft it was.
Sir what is your opinion over the US Review of the Five Eyes agreement (including US,UK,AUS,NZ and CAD) which is bound to be concluded in Spring 2022 with proposals of extension to the candidates Germany, India, South Korea, Japan. I believe that the strongly white anglosaxon format of the current Western strategic framework speaks in favour of Germany.
Not sure India will get Five Eyes status.
Modi and Indian establishments should not feel shy from asking AUKUS, France and Russia to share their nuclear propulsion systems technology and produce them in India. The sizes of India demands that India has multiple propulsion systems. It does not have to be either or the other. None one of these countries are a imminent threat.
Dear Mr Karnad
Another wonderful article from your mighty pen. I have couple of questions
1. Can China use this rift between Anglo-Saxon races and French-German powers to sow discord in NATO and will French-German powers now support China against US in the Indo-pacific considering China can be a great consumer for French-German defense industries ?
2. Please tell me in which ways data analytics can be used to predict/analyze geopolitical trends in South Asia ?
Thanks with best wishes
Received by email from Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha (Retd):
Enjoyed reading your article, highlighting a clear perspective on India’s strategic security
ACM Arup Raha
Received from Lt Gen JS Baja by email:
Seeing the geopolitical ‘broth’ boiling in the Asian cauldron, I am reminded of the Three Witches of Macbeth’s song:-
Round about the couldron go:
In the poisones entrails throw.
Toad,that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweated venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot.
Double,double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blindworm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing.
For charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double,double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and couldron bubble.
Scale of dragon,tooth of wolf,
Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d in the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat; andslips of yew
silver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by the drab,-
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For ingrediants of our cauldron.
Double,double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
@Bharat K. You should perhaps explain what that poem/song means.
Perhaps it is time for the oldie generals to lay down their arsenal of english language.
Itanium@ — Hopefully, Gen Bajwa will explain.
Go India blitz on LFP battery manufacturing after parents expire next yr in 2022?
India is surprisingly missing from AUKUS, the Military technical alliance between the US, Australia and the US.
India should have been an essential member of this military-technical alliance (AUKUS) if the genuine reason for this alliance was to counter influence of China.
There are two reasons for this; Firstly, India shares border with China and, secondly, it showed some tenacity to stand up to China.
This indicates difference between rhetoric and actual intention of the US
Gp Capt R K Narang VM (Retd.)
That mail from Gp Capt RK Narang makes absolutely no sense. What exactly was his grand point again?
I am really hoping bureaucrats high up in GOI can think and act more rationally than the garbled messages you have been getting from these gentlemen.
I am going to stop here.
Pakistan on Wednesday alleged that a threatening email was sent to the New Zealand cricket squad from India, which prompted the Kiwis to call off a tour of the country.
New Zealand called off their first tour of Pakistan after 18 years last Friday due to a security threat to the team, followed by a decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday to cancel a bilateral series scheduled for next month in Pakistan.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed here on Wednesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that a fake post was created in August under Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militant Ehsanullah Ehsan’s name which told the New Zealand cricket board and government to refrain from sending the team to Pakistan as it would be “targeted”.
Despite this, the New Zealand cricket team travelled to Pakistan. However, on the day of the first match New Zealand officials said that their government had concerns of a credible threat and cancelled the tour, Chaudhry said.
“Pakistan Cricket Board officials, the interior ministry security team, everyone went to them and asked them to share the threat … [but] they were as clueless as us,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn News.
He said that a day later, a second threatening email was sent to the New Zealand team using the ID, Hamza Afridi.
He claimed that investigating authorities discovered that the email was sent from a device associated with India.
“It was sent using a virtual private network (VPN) so the location was shown as Singapore,” he claimed.
He said that the same device had 13 other IDs, nearly all of which were Indian names.
“The device used to send the threat to the New Zealand team belonged to India. A fake ID was used but it was sent from Maharashtra,” he claimed.
He said that the interior ministry had registered a case and had requested Interpol for assistance and information on the Tehreek-i-Labbaik ProtonMail and the ID of Hamza Afridi.
He said that the West Indies team was travelling to Pakistan in December. “A threat has already been issued to the team,” he claimed, adding that this was also issued via a ProtonMail account.
On Tuesday, Chaudhry had claimed that his country was paying a price for saying no to the US on allowing American military bases on its soil.
Excerpts from the following article;
I mentioned it on this forum (September 17th) moments after the first ODI was abandoned and New Zealand cricket squad decided to leave Pakistan, that it’s the work of the Indian intelligence agencies.
Yeah om prakash mishra is the earmarked deep asset used.Raw made him sing cringe songs to build a good cover story.You do have an eye for detail ability to read in between lines.great insights.