The anti-neoconservative Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who had been the chief aide to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and had opposed America’s invading Iraq, spoke on March 2nd explaining how the U.S. and Russia are drifting ever-more-rapidly into World War III. He said it’s essentially the same way that England and Germany drifted into WW I: being sucked in by their entangling web of foreign alliances. However, as he sees it, the role that Sarajevo played to spark world-war in 1914, is being performed this time by Israel. Instead of the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip igniting the war by assassinating in Sarajevo the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Benjamin Netanyahu is igniting this war throughout the Middle East, by escalating his campaign to conquer Shiites in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon — overthrowing and replacing the governments there (which would then become controlled by allies of the anti-Shiite Sunni regime in U.S.-Israel-allied Saudi Arabia), and also aiming ultimately to expand Israel itself, to take over Jordan so as to confirm biblical prophesy.
And, as Wilkerson sees it, Netanyahu is also fronting for the Saud family: the Israel lobby is fronting not only for Israel’s aristocracy, but for Saudi Arabia’s. (Whereas Israel works both inside and outside the U.S. Government to control the U.S. Government, the Sauds, which are the world’s richest family, work only inside the U.S. Government, by outright buying it; so, unlike the Jewish billionaires who control Israel, they don’t need acceptance by the American people; and each time the Sauds try, they fail at it.) However, since Wilkerson’s speech was being sponsored by organizations that oppose Israel’s lobbyists, most of it dealt with Israel’s side of the Israel-Saud alliance that controls U.S. foreign policies (especially in the Middle East). (The U.S. aristocracy’s hostility toward Russia is, however, its own; it is primary for America’s billionaires, but not for Israel’s aristocracy, and also not for the Sauds — both of which aristocracies are instead focused mainly against Iran and Shiites.)
Wilkerson thus criticized especially “where Israel is headed – toward a massive confrontation with the various powers arrayed against it, a confrontation that will suck America in and perhaps terminate the experiment that is Israel and do irreparable damage to the empire that America has become.” Here is how he described the likeliest “tripwire” for what would become global nuclear annihilation:
They want a Greater Israel for a number of reasons, security reasons, you know, the old biblical prophecies and so forth. So I think they’re going to try to keep this in the air to start with. You’re going to see some bombing. I think you’re going to see in the next six months, they’re going to take Lebanon on. They’re going to take Hezbollah on in Syria and Lebanon. When that doesn’t work or when Hezbollah present to them, as they did in July 2006, with some new options in terms of what Hezbollah can do to them and maybe even the Lebanese Armed Forces do too, it might get tricky. Then there might be armored formations, ground units, infantry and so forth. That’s when the door opens for general conflict.
There is a question asked, too, about the [U.S. military] base [recently placed in Israel]. Here’s why I think we put the base there. … We put the base there for the same reason we have tripwire forces in other places. We put the base there so that there can be no question in the minds of the American people when the president directs U.S. forces into Israel equipped to go into Syria because we will have been attacked. The disposition of that base is just sitting on an Israeli Air Base and we put the Stars and Stripes up and declared it a U.S. Air Base. It’s for Patriot batteries as far as I know. But it’s there and it’s U.S. territory. So, when missiles start flying or — God forbid — the RGC [Iran’s Republican Guard Corps] actually tries to put guerillas into Israel proper, then we are being attacked, too. So, when we go to Congress, if Trump feels like he has to go to Congress — he isn’t going to have to probably — Congress is going to be demanding that the president take action. …
If so, then the U.S. Government will be at war against Russia, too, not merely against Iran and Hezbollah. … So, the thing that ought to be happening right now is that the United States and Moscow, despite all this mess [Russiagate, Skripal, etc.] that’s been created between us, ought to be cooperating to bring the two parties that really need to talk — to talk, Riyadh and Tehran — and get them to deal with their problems diplomatically and then turn that diplomatic success on to the Syrian conflict which is being fueled principally by Saudi money with Prince Bandar in charge.
He’s saying that this isn’t at all an ‘Israel-versus-the-Arabs’ thing, nor even fundamentally a Russia-versus-America thing (at least not in the Middle East) but instead a Sunni-versus-Shiite thing, at root. And, he’s right. The fundamental Middle-Eastern conflict is intra-Islamic, not between religions. But (and he never talks about this; almost nobody does), it’s really between blocs of aristocracies, not really between different nations’ publics. In terms of publics, the American people are victimized by the American aristocracy and by its allied Saud family, and by its allied Israeli aristocracy; but America’s media are controlled by America’s aristocracy; and, so, hide these facts, in order to make these invasions by the U.S. possible — politically acceptable to the duped public (like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc., were).
Bandar is the person who was paying, out of his and his wife’s own personal checking accounts, flight-training etc. for at least two of the 15 Saudis who were preparing to do the 9/11 attacks. In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump personally sold, to the Saud family, $350 billion in U.S. weaponry and training. That sale was the biggest part yet, of Trump’s plan to restore U.S. manufacturing. And basically, Trump is now owned by the Sauds, and this (in addition to his own billionaire Israel-backers) means that he needs to be gung-ho for invading Iran, and certainly not for overthrowing the Sauds. He needs to support aristocracies that are the chief enemies of the American public. This is realpolitik, in a world that’s controlled by psychopaths. It’s today’s world.
Wilkerson said, “We might have the stirrings of 1914 as utterly stupid as we now know those stirrings to have been.” But would this really be just “stupidity,” or, perhaps, something more — and worse? He evidently knows that it’s far more, and that it involves not only the Sauds and their agents, but also the Israelis and their agents:
This is Joseph Goebbels territory. Karl Rove [George W. Bush’s chief propagandist] is envious. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies as the heir to the Project for the New American Century, Bill Kristol’s Iraq-bound think tank, leaves that pack of wolves disguised as warmed over neocons lavishly funded by the likes of Paul Singer [one of Trump’s top financial backers]. It has even spawned the Institute for the Study of War. A fascinating Orwellian title if there ever was one [it’s run by former PNAC people]. It should be [called] the Institute for War.
I’ve been asked why is it that you ascribe to FDD and now the ISW such nefarious motives. I was asked this by the New York Times’ editorial staff when they published my op-ed on Iran a few days ago. My answer is simple. Because that is precisely what FDD is attempting to do. Just as Douglas Feith, undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Office of Special Plans, did in 2002 and 2003 for Richard Bruce Cheney to lead us in the war with Iraq.
If this is true, then the Skripal matter, and all of Russiagate’s pressures upon Trump to bring America to war against Russia and against Russia’s allies (such as Iran, Syria, and China), would fit also as being parts of that broader plan, which would fulfill the objectives both of the Saud family, and of Israel’s aristocracy — and, of course, of America’s aristocracy, which have long wanted to conquer Russia.
The NATO PR agency Atlantic Council announced on March 25th that, as the neoconservative Daily Star in London expressed the matter, “Defence experts at the Atlantic Council have now laid out the ‘significant threat’ from Russia on the edge of Europe.” Now that NATO has expanded right up to Russia’s very borders, NATO wants its populations to know that Russia is threatening NATO by massing troops and weapons on NATO’s borders. (It’s as if Russia had taken Mexico and then blamed America for being ‘aggressive’ and ‘threatening’ by doing defensive military drills on our own territory.) The next day, the Daily Star headlined “Vladimir Putin orders WAR DRILLS as Russia tensions ready to snap with West”. Then, on March 29th, they headlined “‘This is very rare’ Russia warship ‘to fire missiles SIX MILES off Sweden coast’”.
The aristocracies of Israel and of Saudi Arabia will likely have the support of the aristocracies in the U.S. and UK, in their planned war against Russia and its allies. Like WWI, and WW II, this is a joint enterprise; but, this time, unlike in WW II, America will be out to conquer Russia, not to conquer Germany. Russia is the nation that has, by far, the most natural resources; and aristocracies always value land more than they value the populations that are on it, for whatever they can exploit out of the conquered ones, especially because dealing with the natives can mean more trouble than it’s worth. For examples: native populations didn’t do too well in U.S., nor in Australia, nor in Africa, nor in Palestine. Russians aren’t the goal; Russia (the land) is. But, as usual, the aristocracies have first been knocking off the leaders of the allies of the country that’s the main target — such as in Iraq, and in Libya, and in Syria, and in Ukraine. Now, the allied aristocracies are getting ready to go in for the kill.
As regards the view from the opposite side, it was well summarized by Joe Hargrave in his recent “What Putin Wants Is The Most Important Issue Of Our Time”, in which he accurately represented what Putin has been both saying and doing.
And as regards Wilkerson’s recommendation: it was for the U.S. to abandon Israel, so that Netanyahu won’t be able to start WW III. (Wilkerson closed by saying: “The country that will have started it all, the relationship, unbalanced as it is that will make it possible, is Israel. That’s the danger we face.”) Of course, the Sauds won’t allow that, and they might even renege on their $350 billion U.S. weapons-purchase commitment if we did it. The Israel lobby would secretly carry the Sauds’ water on that, and the Sauds pay well for any service provided to them; so, those lobbyists would have access to virtually unlimited funds, some of which would, of course, ultimately find its way not only into politicians’ campaigns, but also into America’s ‘news’ media. Thus, corporations such as Lockheed Martin can get loads of free PR (sales-promotion), for American ‘nationalism’, which is the military-industrial complex’s form of internationalism.
The Greek-Turkish Standoff: A New Source of Instability in the Eastern Mediterranean
Since 2011, Eastern Mediterranean affairs have mainly been marked by instability due to the civil wars in Libya and Syria. Recently, a new source of tensions further perplexes the situation—the Greek-Turkish standoff. Currently, Athens and Ankara disagree over sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, they both claim rights in maritime zones which have not yet been delimited. The nature of the problem is not new, dating back to November 1973. What is new is the breadth of maritime zones the two sides disagree upon. The attention has shifted towards the Eastern Mediterranean in the last ten years, while it had only focused on the Aegean Sea before energy discoveries were made in the Levantine Basin in 2009.
Greek-Turkish relations were relatively calm from 1999 until 2016. In 2002, Athens and Ankara launched the so-called “exploratory talks,” a format to exchange views on thorny issues informally. The 60th round of bilateral exploratory talks took place in March 2016 and was the last until now. After 2016, cooperation between Greece and Turkey continued—for example, on the management of the refugee crisis—but the latter employed a different foreign policy approach. Seeing the EU door almost closed and having to deal with the post-coup domestic priorities, President Tayyip Erdogan sought to strengthen his country’s regional role. He placed more emphasis on national security issues and was not hesitant to forge closer ties with Russia and China. He has lacked predictability in international affairs.
Eastern Mediterranean waters could not but come to Turkey’s interest when hydrocarbons were discovered in the Basin. Cyprus followed Israel in proceeding to explore and exploit some reservoirs, such as the Aphrodite field, in close collaboration with some international energy companies. Like any other sovereign country in the world with resources, it had the right to develop them. The Republic of Cyprus had already entered the EU in 2004, but the island remained divided after the Turkish military invasion of 1974. From the very beginning, Turkey disagreed with the practices of the Cypriot government and acted to protect, in its view, the Turkish Cypriot community. Such actions became bolder in 2018. Turkish vessels began researching and drilling in Cypriot waters, although the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus is grounded on international law. The reaction of both the EU and the U.S. was very mild. As a result, Turkish ships uninterruptedly continue their operations as of today. Having been disappointed with the EU’s stance, on September 21, 2020, Cyprus decided not to sign the list of European sanctions against Belarus unless Brussels moves to impose sanctions on Turkey over its violation of Cypriot sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
August 2020 saw Turkey expand the same policy in regard to Cypriot waters, particularly maritime zones south of the island of Kastellorizo. The Turkish government sent the “Oruc Reis” ship to conduct research in disputed waters, according to the terminology of the American administration. It was accompanied by frigates causing Greece’s similar reaction. The research lasted for more than four weeks. On September 21, Ankara did not renew the relevant NAVTEX fueling speculation about its motivations. While maintenance reasons are officially presented as the main reason for the return of “Orus Reis” to the Antalya port, the decision is generally seen as a sign to diffuse tensions in view of the EU-Turkey summit of September 24–25, where the possibility of sanctions is likely to de discussed. Nonetheless, Turkey has declared the vessel could soon continue its mission.
The crisis is far from over. External mediators, namely Germany and the U.S., call for dialogue. Other partners such as Russia, China, France and the UK also advocate for a diplomatic solution. In principle, dialogue remains the only way forward. However, Greece and Turkey have completely different agendas. Turkey opts for negotiations without preconditions on a variety of themes. Experience from history—when the Aegean Sea was the epicentre of attention—shows Ankara is aware that international law would hardly favour its position, should talks only be concentrated on the delimitation of the continental shelf. The Turkish government endeavours to boost its argumentation by publicly talking about the geographic position of Kastellorizo, yet steadily combines other demands along with the proposed arrangement of maritime zones. Greece suspiciously sees this tactic.
Another reason for pessimism is that Turkey complements its position about future dialogue with Greece with some proposals on the island of Cyprus. Specifically, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has talked about the establishment of an equitable revenue sharing mechanism and other schemes with the participation of all parties, including the Turkish Cypriots. Whether the two themes, Greek-Turkish relations and the rights of Turkish Cypriot and perhaps a revival of talks on the Cyprus Question are to be linked, will be seen. As a matter of principle, Athens and Nicosia do not accept the participation of the Turkish Cypriot administration in any negotiations or meetings. And they both see the Cyprus Question as an international and European problem. Having said that, Greece and Cyprus raise provocative Turkish actions in the Eastern Mediterranean at the EU level, whereas Turkey prefers direct negotiations on outstanding issues. Despite this alignment, Athens does not negotiate on behalf of Nicosia.
So, where are we? NATO “deconfliction” talks are continuing and Germany is pushing both Greece and Turkey to engage themselves in new exploratory talks. The most delicate part of the task is not to talk about the need for dialogue but to make dialogue a success before a new military crisis occurs. Russia has also offered to mediate if asked, as the problem is an area of concern for the American administration and NATO first. From a Greek perspective, good ties between Russia and Turkey are a thorn in Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s initiative to mediate. Of course, this can also be a blessing in disguise. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided to publicize his interest in holding a telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin at the end of July, while important meetings between Greek and Russian officials took place in recent days. Foreign Ministers Dendias and Lavrov regularly talk to each other. Greece strives to achieve balance between its clear foreign policy choices and the difficult but possible rewarming of ties with Russia, acknowledging the rising role of the latter in the South.
From our partner RIAC
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.
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