The purpose of this essay is to analyze the arguments in favor and against the obsoleteness of the war particularly after the cold war. But before going in detail one needs to understand the concept of war that is advocated by the proponents of the Realist school of thought.
According to the Realists, war is essential for serving its interests as for war is mean to achieve their national interests. The institution of war has evolved with the development of state after the peace of Westphalia which gives state supreme power to exercise within its boundaries without inferring in internal matters of the other states.
According to Clausewitz war is a continuation of politics by other means. The industrialization played a vital role in promoting war by developing new weapons and revolutionizing the institution of war. It was in eighteen century when war becomes a proper institution which is equipped with modern weapons and tactics. Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that war almost always enlarges the mind of a people and raises their character.” Kenneth Waltz defines war as “The ultimate resort of states that can see no other way to have their interests met.” Moreover, War was used as a tool by states to expand its territory and area of influence since ancient times like Athens fight against Spartan to control them.
In the twentieth century, the fascination for war is declining especially after the experience of WWI and almost all the countries of the developed world committed to avoiding war between states. The deterrence was also used by states to prevent war by equipping them with arms to teeth to deal with the aggressive states.  However, this policy failed with the start of WWII but with the start of a cold war between US and USSR did bring stability by changing of international structure from multi-polarity to bi-polarity. Both powers avoided direct confrontation and the world was divided into two blocs. Kenneth Waltz declared Bi-polar system as a most stable system because both powers tried to balance each other power which reduces the chances of war.
Merits of Bi-polarity
Similarly, nuclear weapons also played a significant role in averting war as both powers acquired nuclear weapons. Kenneth Waltz called nuclear weapons as an effective tool to prevent war between US and USSR as the use of nuclear weapons after 1945 become unthinkable for any state due to its destructive ability. According to experts, Bi-polarity proved to be a more balanced system as it would not allow one state to dominate all other states of the world. Bi-polarity created a balance between two potential powers and brings stability at international level as both were equally capable of competing with other. Both states balanced each other power by created two blocs to check each other growing power at global level.
Arguments in favor of Obsoleteness of War
1- Economic Integration
The interdependence of economy is considered as a major development which is preventing the war, especially between states. For Instance, in the case of China and US despite their rivalry, there is less likely chance of war between both the states. War creates instability and disrupts the economy in a negative way by causing inflation. The international economic system has increased the dependence of states irrespective of their size. The economic integration among states is not allowing them for waging war because it is not cost effective for a state. In contemporary world war is undesirable and becoming a burden on the economy of the country.
In the case of China and US relations although they are competing with each other but they would not use war as a tool to increase their influence in the global arena. Since war is not a viable option to pursue their national interests. Similarly, China is suspicious of an American presence in the Asia-Pacific region and their growing ties with its neighboring states. One cannot say that they will be involved in direct confrontation with each other. Since economic interests of the both states are inter-linked and mutually dependent upon each other. China is the biggest trading partner of US and a major importer of Chinese products. In addition, globalization played a vital role in increasing the interdependence between the states by linking all states with the common economic system and its stability is dependent upon the cooperation among all states of the world. Globalization has transformed the world into the global village by inter-linking world trade.
2- Role of international organization
The role of the international organization is significant in preventing war between states by including all states into organizations to resolve their issues by using the dialogue process and building the mutual consent of all the states of the world. International organization provides a platform to resolve the contentious issues by negotiation rather going for war as a mean to sort out their conflictual issues between the states. Moreover, legislation of international organization is very effective in averting war between states as they punished those who are involved in crimes against humanity in the form of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia.
Furthermore, international organizations are effective in ending conflicts between the states by providing a platform and giving importance to objections of the both parties. International organizations play a mediating role to resolve issues between states by hearing both parties and suggesting ways to sort the contentious issues between any two or more states. In addition, regional organizations have improved the regional integration by dealing the regional problems with regional players. For example, European Union is the most successful organization which has united Europe by resolving their issues internally and consider as a most stable region of the world. The European Union is an effective regional organization which makes it most peaceful part of the world as they sort their issues by discussing with each other.
3- Cost of WAR
The cost of war outweighs its benefits for the state as it long-lasting effects on its people. The advancement in modern weapons has increased the destructive abilities of war by causing infrastructure losses for the state. In contemporary world states prefer to avoid war due its interdependence on other states for trade and for proper functioning relations with its neighbors. Similarly, the human cost of war is another factor which is becoming a reason for preventing wars between the states. The use of chemical and biological weapons in modern warfare has increased the number of deaths of humans within the second that is mostly avoided by the countries.
Moreover, the signing of treaties by almost all states of the world to limit the number of conflicts is another factor to discourage countries from using force against any other country. In addition, war drains the economy of a country and creates dissatisfaction at the domestic level. For example, during the Vietnam War US had to stop war due to protests within the country against War due to its effects on their domestic economy. The economic cost of wars in the contemporary world has played a major role in preventing a war between the states. War is not considered as the viable option for states to pursue their national interests.
4-Use of non-military means
The use of non-military means by the states is another major reason towards decline war in 21 century. The states tend to use other means for instance; cyber warfare is widely used by China and US to keep a check on their growing power. The countries in contemporary world avoid using force against other states because it is not cost effective for them. Cyber warfare is not only cost effective for states but also a viable option to pursue their interests without heavy spending on its defence. Moreover, cyber warfare would cause more damage to the rival states without indulging in direct confrontation with the other states.
The hacking incidents in the past few years have increased and hackers usually hacked national websites to the country to get access to countries confidential documents and their assets to expose the ability of the state. Cyber warfare is cost effective mean used by countries to subdue their rival states. The modern technological advancement has increased the role of cyber warfare as all systems of the world are dependent on the digital means. Moreover, computer viruses are also used by almost all states to destroy the confidential projects of their rival states without much effort and violating international laws against the use of force at the global level.
5- Nuclear weapons
Nuclear weapons have also played a significant role in preventing war between states because of its destructive nature and long-lasting effects on the humans and living beings. Nuclear weapons are considered as psychological weapons or political weapons that act as a deterrent to prevent war between the two or more states. The development of nuclear technological has changed the nature warfare to a greater extent by reducing chances of War Between the States. During cold war nuclear weapons prevented the direct confrontation between US and USSR. The use of nuclear weapons by either by US or USSR would ensure mutual destruction of both the states.
The use of nuclear weapons is not an acceptable norm at international due to destructive ability to destroy humans indiscriminately. It is considered as taboo by responsible states and international community because of its negative repercussions on the humanity. They are used prevent War among the States. International norms against the use of nuclear weapons have played the significant role in avoiding conflict between the states and acts as a deterrent to states.
According to some experts, war is not obsolete in the contemporary world rather it has transformed the old warfare. The institution war has become more organized and lethal. The modern technology has revolutionized the nature warfare by equipping states with modern weapons. The decline of war as an institution is not easy to achieve with growing insecurities of the states. States are facing security dilemma and in order to compete with other states every state is increasing their defense budget to ensure their security. Similarly, change in international structure from Uni-polarity to Multi-polarity is another reason why states are investing more to improve their military capacity to compete for more than one power at international level.
Moreover, experts are of the view that nuclear weapons are not preventing war instead they are increasing the military disparities between the states. The countries who acquire nuclear weapons after the 1950s are competing with P-5 by developing Tactical Nuclear weapons. They are also known as mini-nukes basically these low-intensity nuclear weapons which are increasing chances of war among the states. The accidental use of tactical weapons can start a war due to growing distrust among major countries of the world. For example, in a case of India and Pakistan, accidental use of tactical nuclear weapons can initiate a war between these two states.
If we analyzed arguments in favor of the obsoleteness of war are based on logical argumentation and empirical evidence. It would be plausible to say that institution of war is facing a decline due to growing awareness among general public and policy makers. War is not cost-effective and becoming a burden on economies of the countries. Similarly, modern weapon technologies have increased the defence budget rather spending this money to eradicate poverty and violence in the world. Moreover, development of nuclear weapons is also contributed in preventing war because the use of nuclear weapons can kill thousands of people within seconds especially after witnessing the example of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.
Despite differences among states they give importance to the process of dialogue to resolve their conflictual issues rather than going for war. The cost of war out weights the benefits of war if we assess the implications of war for humans it would be safe to claim that war cause more problems for people who have to face the consequences of war in the form of loss of their lives and displacement from their respective countries to neighboring areas. It would be plausible say that war between states is obsolete if not within the states. The conflicts within the countries are there but it can be addressed by using dialogue process and giving autonomy to minority groups in the countries.
If we compare and contrast arguments in favor and against of war one can say that war is considered as the only option for states in resolving their issues with other states. The institution of war is facing decline after the conclusion of the two World Wars. War is not used by states to protect their national interests due to its heavy cost in the form of both human and material cost of the war. Globalization has also played significant role limiting the role of War at international level by promoting interdependence among all states of the world. Furthermore, war itself causes more problems rather than resolving contentious issues between the countries.
The increasing economic interdependence among states has decreased chances of war as their economic interests are interlinked. War is expensive for any state since it requires not only man-power but also the economic power to sustain the war for a long time. The countries having viable economies if they start a war consequently it will drain their economy and create issues within their states. The economic integration of regions has paved the way in preventing war between states by bringing stability and prosperity to all states irrespective of their relative power capabilities.
Social constructivism theory is presented by Nicholas Onuf, Alexander Wendt, Emanuel Adler, Friedrich Kratochwil, John Gerard Ruggie and Peter Katzenstein. According to proponents of the social constructivism international structure is socially constructed with interactions of human with each other. States objective goals in the form of security and economic development and subjective goals their international standing are created by their interactions with other actors of the world. States identities and interests are constructed from inter-subjective social structures because global actors interact with each other to formulate their interests by comparing them with other states. The identities and interests of actors are socially constructed by their interaction with each other.
According to constructivists anarchy is not given rather it is socially constructed with interactions of global actors. If all states are interacting in a peaceful manner then it is peaceful and if the country suspects each other intentions then it is conflictual in nature. In simple words, it depends on upon the interactions of the global actors with each other. Constructivist negates realist assumption about anarchy that it is given. It is constructed by an interaction of global actors and it changes the behavior of global actors. The interest of the states keeps on changing with a change in international structure as they are stagnant or permanent.
The international system is not given or present like the solar system. It is constituted by inter-subjective interaction among the people. The international system is constructed with the ideas that are not based on the objective reality. Social Constructivism is based upon the set of ideas, norms of people living in a particular area. According to the constructivists understanding the meanings of ideas and concepts is significant because it is based on interactions human with other by comparing them with each other.
In the case of relations with China and US one can say they experienced ups and downs with the changing nature of their national interests.  During the 1950s, the relations between both the states were conflictual in nature due to American involvement in Korean Peninsula and their support for Nationalist Taiwan. In the 1970s during Nixon Presidency, US tried to normalize their relations by visiting China and accepted People Republic China (PRC) legitimacy using Ping Pong by sending their table tennis team to China. The shift in relations occurred due to changing nature of their national interest and abandons the Nationalists of Taiwan. The US normalized their relations with China to curtail the Russian expansion in the region and increase American area of influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
If we analyzed the relations of the both countries using the Social Constructivists lens one can say China and US have experienced a period of strained relations and normal relations depending upon the nature of interests that are changing with a shift in the international system. It is either peaceful or conflictual in nature. Moreover, in recent past, the increased in economic interdependence has improved their relations with each other due to dependence upon each other for achieving their economic interests. Similarly, China and the USA are competing with other economically due to growing Chinese economy and rise as a major player at international level. China and USA are suspected of each other activities particularly in the Asia-Pacific region due to growing Chinese influence in the region.
The relations between China and US are largely driven by their distinct ideologies and identities. The foreign policy of both of these countries is dependent on their identities which are different from each other. The understanding of their respective identities is essential for making sense of their posture towards each other. States acts according to national interests that are based on their identities. According to Social Constructivism understanding of identities is required to analyze the relations between two states in detail. The role of identities is significant is determining the major policy decisions that are largely dependent upon the ideational factors of the state.
In the context of China and US, the role of the identity cannot be undermined because both give importance to their identities in their relations with each other. The in-depth understanding of the foreign policies of China and US is largely based on their distinct identities. The nature of the relationship between China and US is very complex due to the vital role of their respective identities in their major policy decisions towards each other. China gives importance to its identity in the conduct of their relations with US and rest of the world. In the same way, the US also promotes democracy at the international level that signifies the role of identity in their foreign policy.
To conclude, war is obsolete particularly between the states in the contemporary as no major war is fought between states. The institution war is facing a decline due to its heavy cost paid the people. The countries prefer to use non-military means to increase their sphere of influence rather using force to get their interests. The phenomena of war are not fascinating for young people anymore as it used to be in past. The repercussions of war have far-reaching effects on the humans by disturbing them emotionally and mentally. Moreover, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are another factor which is vital for averting war among the states due to its implications for humans. The countries at international level do not promote war to solve their conflictual issues with each other. The international organizations are effective in ending the war between states by promoting peace and stability. Similarly, the role of effective civil society and epistemic communities cannot be undermined in preventing war at a global level. The epistemic community has played a vital role in stigmatizing the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Lastly, war is not considered by states as an only option to pursue their national interests as it used to be in the 17th and 18th century. Realist school of thought promoted war as tool or Lastly, no doubt war is not considered by states as an only option to pursue their national interests as it used to be in the 17th and 18th century. Realist school of thought promoted war as a tool or mean by states to achieve their national interests. In 21 century the role war is not vital due to increasing in economic interdependence between the states. The economic integration at the regional level is important in ending major conflicts among states of the particular region. War as an institution is not effective at international due to a shift of countries towards non-military means to subdue their rivals rather than indulging them in war or military confrontation with each other.
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Why the “Coronavirus Ceasefire” Never Happened
Six months ago, when COVID-19 had just moved beyond the borders of China and embarked upon its triumphant march across Europe and North America, politicians and foreign affairs experts started discussing what will happen after the virus is vanquished. The debate that ensued balanced the fears and concerns of pessimists with the hopes and expectations of optimists, with the latter believing that the pandemic and the global recession that followed would inevitably force humankind to put its differences aside and finally unite in the face of common challenges.
Six months later, we can say without any doubt that, unfortunately, the optimists were wrong. The pandemic did not bring about the changes in world politics they had been hoping for, even with the ensuing recession making things worse. And we are unlikely to see any such changes in the near future. Sadly, COVID-19 did not turn out to be a cure-all for regional conflicts, arms races, the geopolitical competition and the countless ailments of humankind today.
These persisting ailments are more than evident in relations between Russia and the West. No positive steps have been made in the past six months in any of the areas where the positions of the two sides differ significantly, be it the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the unrest in Syria, the political instability in Venezuela or the war in Libya. The fate of the New START and the nuclear nonproliferation regime remains unclear. Moscow continues to be the target of new economic and political sanctions. Russia and the West are locked in an intense information war. There are no signs of a “coronavirus ceasefire,” let alone a full-fledged peace agreement, on the horizon.
Of course, Moscow has placed the blame for the lack of progress squarely on the shoulders of its western partners. While this may indeed be true in many respects, we must admit that the Kremlin has hardly been overflowing with ideas and proposals over the past six months. Even if Moscow did want to reverse the current negative trends in global politics, it has not taken any steps on its own to do so. Nor has it proposed any large-scale international projects, or even tried to temper its usual foreign policy rhetoric and propaganda.
On the contrary, the various troubles that have befallen Russia in the “coronavirus era” – from the public unrest in Belarus to the unfortunate poisoning of Alexei Navalny – are explained away as the malicious intrigues of Russia’s geopolitical opponents. For all intents and purposes, the Kremlin is in the same position now, in September 2020, that it was in back in March. The chances of another “reset” or at least a “timeout” in relations have disappeared completely, if they ever existed in the first place.
So, why did the “coronavirus ceasefire” never happen? Without absolving the West of its share of responsibility, let us try to outline the obstacles that Russia has put in the way of progress.
First, in an environment of unprecedented shocks and cataclysms, there is always the hope that your opponent will eventually suffer more as a result than you will. Many in Russia see the 2020 crisis as the final damning indictment of the West and even an inglorious end to the market economy and political liberalism in general.
The recent statement by Aide to the President of the Russian Federation Maxim Oreshkin that Russia is poised to become one of the top five economies in the world this year is particularly noteworthy. Not because the country is experiencing rapid economic growth, but because the German economy is set to fall further than the Russian economy. If you are certain that time is on your side and that you will emerge from the crisis in better shape than your opponents, then the incentives to work towards some kind of agreement hic et nunc are, of course, reduced.
Second, the current Russian leadership is convinced that any unilateral steps on its part, any shifts in Moscow’s foreign policy, will be perceived in the West as a sign of weakness. And this will open the door for increased pressure on Moscow. Not that this logic is entirely unfounded, as history has shown. But it is precisely this logic that prevents Russian leaders from admitting their past foreign policy mistakes and miscalculations, no matter how obvious they may have been. This, in turn, makes it extremely difficult to change the current foreign policy and develop alternative routes for the future. In fact, what we are seeing is a game to preserve the status quo, in the hope that history will ultimately be on Moscow’s side, rather than that of its opponents (see the first point).
Third, six and a half years after the crisis in Ukraine broke out, we are essentially left with a frozen conflict. Turning the large and unwieldy state machine around, rewiring the somewhat heavy-handed state propaganda machine, and changing the policies that determine the everyday actions of the army of “deep state” officials is tantamount to changing the trajectory of a supertanker carrying a load of hundreds of thousands of tonnes. It is perhaps even more difficult, however, to change the opinion that has taken shape in Russian society in recent years about the modern world and Russia’s place in it. Just because the Russian people are tired of foreign politics, this does not mean that they will enthusiastically support an updated version of Mikhail Gorbachev’s “new thinking” of the second half of the 1980s or the ideological principles of Boris Yeltsin and Andrei Kozyrev’s foreign policy of the early 1990s.
Fourth, the balance of power between the agencies involved in the development and practical implementation of Russia’s foreign policy has changed significantly in recent years. The role of the security forces has been growing in all its aspects since at least the beginning of 2014. Conversely, the role of diplomats, as well as that of the technocrats in the economic structures of the Russian government, has been dwindling with each passing year. It is the security forces that are the main “stakeholders” in Donbass, Syria, Libya and even Belarus today. It would be fair to say that they have had a controlling interest in Russia’s foreign policy. The oft-quoted words of Emperor Alexander III that Russia has only two allies, its army and its navy, perfectly reflect the shift that has taken place in the balance of powers between these agencies. We should add that this shift was largely welcomed and even supported by a significant part of Russian society (see the third point). Of course, the siloviki are, due to the specifics of their work, less inclined to compromise, concessions and basic human empathy than diplomats, economists and technocrats.
All these factors preventing the conceptual renewal of Russia’s foreign policy can equally be applied to its geopolitical opponents. Politicians in the West are also hoping that time is on their side, that Moscow will emerge from the crisis weaker and more vulnerable, and thus more malleable than it was before. They also believe that any unilateral steps, any demonstration of flexibility in relations with the Kremlin, will be met with an even tougher and more aggressive policy. Negative ideas about Russia have also taken root in the minds of people in the West, and foreign policy is being “militarized” there just as much as it is in Russia.
Thus, neither the coronavirus nor the economic recession will automatically lead to a détente, let alone a reset in relations between Russia and the West. We are, in fact, moving in the opposite direction, once again running the risk of an uncontrolled confrontation. However, this unfortunate situation is no reason to give up on the possibility of signing new agreements, even if COVID-19 will no longer be in our corner moving forward.
From our partner RIAC
India’s strategies short of war against a hostile China
Since India’s independence several peace and border cooperation agreements were signed between the India and China. Prominent among them was the Panchsheel Agreement signed in 1954. A majority of the agreements were signed between 1993 and 2013. Recently genuine efforts were made by PM Narendra Modi by engaging Xi Jinping at the Wuhan and Chennai summits. But China is nowhere near to settling the border dispute despite various agreements and talks at the military and civilian levels.
After the 1962 war peace was largely maintained on the Indo China border. During the Mao and Deng era consensus building was the norm in the communist party. XiJinping appointed himself as chairman of the communist party for life. Today power is centralized with XiJinping and his cabal. Through Doklam and Galwan incidents Xi Jinpinghas disowned the peaceful principles laid down by his predecessors. China’s strategy is to keep India engaged in South Asia as it doesn’t want India to emerge as a super power. After solving a crisis on the border China will create another crisis. Beijing has declining interest in the niceties of diplomacy. Under Xi Jinping China has become more hostile.
China has been infringing on India’s sovereignty through salami tactics by changing the status quo and attempting to own the border territory. At Galwan on Xi Jinping’s birthday the PLA demonstrated hooliganism by assaulting Indian border positions. China violated the 1996 and 2005 bilateral agreements which states that both armies should not carry weapons within 1.24 miles on either side of the border. India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar mentioned that the standoff situation with China in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh is “surely the most serious situation after 1962.”China is constructing infrastructure, increasing forces and deploying weapon systems on the border.
Options for India
India led by PM Narendra Modi has implemented a realist foreign policy and a muscular military policy.India ended the age of strategic restraint by launching special operations and air strikes in Pakistan. Since the Galwan incident India has increased the military, diplomatic and economic deterrence against China. India is constructing military infrastructure and deploying weapon systems like SU 30 MKI and T 90 tanks in Ladakh. India banned a total of 224 Chinese apps, barred Chinese companies from government contracts and is on the verge of banning Huawei. Other measures include excluding Chinese companies from private Indian telecommunications networks. Chinese mobile manufacturers can be banned from selling goods in India.
India should offer a grand strategy to China. India has a plethora of options short of war. Future talks should involve an integrated strategy to solve all the bilateral issues and not just an isolated resolution of a localized border incident. All instruments of military and economic power and coercive diplomacy should be on the table.
China expects other nations to follow bilateral agreements and international treaties while it conveniently violates them. India should abrogate the Panscheel agreement given China’s intransigence and hostility. China claims 35,000 square miles of territory in India’s northeast, including the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. China occupies 15,000 square miles of India’s territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas. India’s primary objective is to take back territories like Aksai Chin. While the secondary issue is the resolution of the border issue and China’s support to Pakistan. India can leverage the contemporary geopolitical climate to settle all issues. India can target China’s soft underbelly characterized by issues like Taiwan, Xinjiang and the economy. China raises the Kashmir issue at international organizations. As a countervailing measure India can raise Xinjiang at international organizations and conferences.
China has been militarily and diplomatically supporting Pakistan against India. Pakistan is a rentier and a broken state that sponsors terrorism. India can establish bilateral relations with Taiwan thus superseding China’s reunification sensitivities. China has territorial disputes with 18 countries including Taiwan and Japan. India can hedge against China by establishing strategic partnerships with US, Australia, Japanand Vietnam.
An overwhelming military is a deterrence for China’s belligerent foreign and military policy. The 1990Gulf War demonstrated the capabilities of high technology weapon systems. As compared to China’s rudimentary weapons systems India has inducted 4th and 5th generation weapons like the SU 30 MKI, AH 64 Apache and T 90 tanks. The deterrence capacity of fighter aircrafts is reduced as they cannot target China’s coastlines due to their restricted range. Full deterrence can be achieved by ICBMs and nuclear powered submarines. With these weapons India can target centers of gravity like Shanghai and Shenzhen.
China is not a signatory to arms limitations treaties like Start I and Start II. China continues to expand its nuclear weapons stockpile and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) like DF 21 and DF-26B which are banned by the INF Treaty. India is a law abiding stable democracy in an unstable region with two hostile nations on its flanks. US and Russia can relax the arms control mechanism considering India’s’ impeccable record on peace and non proliferation. This will allow India to buy Russian weapon systems like Zircon and Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, Topol and Bulava ICBMs and Yasen and Borey class SSBN submarines. While US can sell SSBN submarines and C4ISR gathering platforms like RC 135 and RQ 4 Global Hawk.
China remains a security threat for Asia. As China foments instability the APAC region from South Asia to South China Sea remains volatile. The Quad can be expanded to include Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia and multinational naval exercises can conducted in the South China Sea.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. China fought small wars with India, Vietnam and Soviet Union. Vietnam defeated the PLA at Lang Son in 1979 with advanced weapon systems and guerilla warfare. India can increase militarily cooperation with Vietnam. China attacked the Soviet Union on the Ussuri river leading to heavy PLA casualties. Historically relations between Russia and India have been close. As a result of the Indo Soviet Friendship Treaty China did not support Pakistan during the 1971 war. India can enhance its military and diplomatic ties with Russia to the next level.
Strategic partnership with US
Its time for a partnership between the world’s largest and the world’s biggest democracies. India and the US have a common objective to preserve peace, maintain stability and enhance security in Asia. India’s reiteration at leaders’ level and international forums that both countries see each other as allies for stability in the APAC region is not enough. India has to go beyond the clichés of the need for closer ties.
Due to the China threat the US is shifting its military from Europe and Middle East to the APAC region.US and India can establish an Asian equivalent of NATO as China’s destructive policy frameworks and threatening postures remain a strategic threat. India should enhance and deepen cooperation with the US intelligence community in the fields of MASINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, TECHINT and CYBINT. Both countries can form an alliance of democracies. If China militarily or economically targets one of the member country then the alliance can retaliate under a framework similar to Article 5 of NATO. Thus power will be distributed in the APAC region instead of being concentrated with China. A scorpion strategy will ensure that China does not harass its neighbors. The strategy involves a military pincer movement by India from the west and US from the East against a hostile China. India can conduct joint military exercises with the US in Ladakh. China cannot challenge Japan and Taiwan due to the US security agreements with these countries.
The world has entered the age of instability and uncertainty. The 21st century is characterized by hybrid warfare through military and coercive diplomacy. South Asia is not a friendly neighborhood where peaceful overtures lead to harmonious relations. China is a threat to India even in the context of a friendly relationship. Diplomatic niceties have no place in India’s relations with China. India can impose costs on China which can be more than the benefits offered by normalizing relations. The application of measures short of war without engaging the PLA will reap benefits. India can fulfill its national security requirements and global responsibilities through a grand strategy.
A policy of engagement and deterrence is crucial against an antagonistic China. While India attempts to develop cooperative ties with China it will need to continue to enhance and implement its military and coercive diplomatic strategies. China does not represent a direct military threat to India but at the same time one cannot deny that challenges remain.
COVID-19 and Challenges to the Indian Defence Establishment
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an uncertain situation all over the world. It is defined as the greatest challenge faced by the world since World War II. At a certain point, the pandemic had forced world governments to announce lockdowns in their respective countries that led to more than half of the human population being home quarantined. Since then, social distancing, travel bans, and cancellation of international summits have become a routine exercise. Most sectors such as agriculture, health, education, economy, manufacturing have been severely hit across the globe. One such sector which is vital to national security that has been impacted due to the pandemic is defence.
The effect of influenza and pneumonia during WWI on the US military was huge. The necessity to mobilise troops across the Atlantic made it even ideal for the diseases to spread rapidly among the defence personnel and civilians. Between mid-1917 and 1919, the fatalities were more so due to the disease than getting killed in action. Due to COVID-19, there have been many implications within the defence sector. Amid the ongoing transgressions in Ladakh, it becomes imperative to analyse the preparedness of the Indian defence establishment to tackle the challenges at hand.
Disrupting the Status Quo
Many personnel in the Indian armed forces have been tested positive for COVID-19. This puts the operational capabilities at risk. In one isolated incident, 26 personnel of the Navy had been placed in quarantine after being tested positive for COVID-19. The French and the Americans had a great challenge ahead of them as hundreds of soldiers were getting infected onboard their Naval vessels. Furthermore, the Army saw some cases being tested positive as well. In one such incident, the headquarters of the Indian Army had to be temporarily shut down because of a soldier contracting the virus. These uncalled disruptions are very dangerous for our armed forces. These disruptions challenge the recruitment process and training exercises.
Since the Indian Army has been involved in quarantining tasks, this exposes the personnel to the virus. As a result of this, the first soldier was tested positive on March 20 in Leh. Among them, those who work as medical personnel are even more exposed to the virus. In order to enforce damage control to the operational capabilities, the Army made sure that the non-essential training, travel, and attending conferences remained cancelled. They called off any foreign assignments and postings for the time being. The Army also made it a point to extend leaves for that personnel who were already on absence. This was a major preventive measure adopted to prevent further infection.
As a result of the lockdown that had been imposed nationwide, the defence services were forced to temporarily stall all the activities that relate to soldiering during peacetime. These activities include training, pursuing professional qualification, fitness tests and regimes, equipment maintenance such as unit assets and stores, up-gradation of the cadres among others. Since the Indian Army boasts of a force that has signed up voluntarily to guard the borders, most of the troops are away from their families, which makes it even more difficult during the times of crises. The mega biennial naval exercises scheduled to be held in Vizag were cancelled due to COVID-19. A total of 41 navies were planned to be a part of the joint exercises called MILAN. The Service Selection Board (SSB) training and the recruitment process have been put to a halt as well. This will severely impact the intake process for this year.
The Army’s capable of operating in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment and has sufficient equipment like infantry vehicles, helicopters and tanks which can operate without any hassles. Since instances of chemical warfare have been witnessed in West Asia and other regions in the last two decades, the focus of the Army has been on that and not on biological warfare. Most Armies believe that bio-weaponry is still fictional and won’t come into play any time soon. Naturally, due to this mindset, most Armies are not capable of handling biohazards. This is a major setback in the time of COVID-19 and has to be addressed.
Riding Down the Slope
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Indian economy has been nose-diving day by day. This is some bad news for the defence sector since the military spending will possibly be reduced as a result of the slowdown. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s GDP will grow at 1.9 per cent. This is one of the lowest in the history of post-independent India. Allocations and spendings will naturally take a hit and will take a long time to revive again. Defence manufacturing will also face a setback and discourage indigenous players who are looking at getting involved in the manufacturing and innovation sector. MoD has already received the Ministry of Finance’s circular that called for the defence spending to be limited to 15-20 per cent of the total amount allocated. This will ensure that the defence budget is not the priority for the finance ministry. A gap of Rs. 1,03,000 crore has been highlighted between the requirement and the allocated money. More than 60 per cent of this allocated amount anyway goes towards paying salaries and pensions. This means that the modernisation efforts will face a major slowdown in the next two years. Defence procurement is already difficult due to the bureaucratic hurdles, now the monetary crunch only adds more woes.
Moreover, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had announced earlier that more than 9,000 posts belonging to the Military Engineering Services (MES) will be abolished in the said industrial division. The reason cited was that this would bring about a balance to the expenditure. Due to the lockdown, the military development has taken a hit and has seen a decline in the production of freights. As of now, there is no manufacturing that is ongoing as far as fighter planes or aircraft, in general, is concerned. Some of the signed defence deals and contracts are said to be reviewed due to the financial crunch. India’s defence budget is expected to see some cuts due to the economy slowing down. The pandemic has worsened this even further. There is already an existing order to cap the spending for the first quarter of this fiscal year. Most of the payments that are being disbursed is largely that of paying for the existing contracts. This will diminish any scope for procurement of newer defence equipment that helps in modernising the armed forces in the long run. According to a report, it says that the Ministry of Defence is looking at a savings of anywhere between Rs. 400 and 800 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. To quote Yuval Noah Harari from his recent article in the Financial Times would seem relevant in this case, “Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours.” India has displayed the significant political will to make impactful decisions during the pandemic. The question is, how far and how soon can we push ourselves to be prepared on all fronts?
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