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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson: Surfing the American Demographic Tsunami



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CNN online recently reported ” According to an average of polls by Gallup, Fox, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University and the Pew Research Center, about 53% of Americans supported her(Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s)  confirmation, with about 26% of Americans opposed. This is good for a +27-point net popularity rating.

If Jackson’s ratings hold up through her likely confirmation, she would be the most popular nominee to be confirmed since John Roberts in 2005. Jackson’s popularity should only help her in the confirmation process.”

White Supremacy is a racist  oligarchal dominant ideology which through Eurocentric colonial hegemony has ruled the world for centuries through inventions of notions of White superiority over conquered, oppressed , and exterminated Non-White peoples and their institutions and communities. In being so, White Supremacy is not only a dominating belief system which is embraced by many though not all people of White Eurocentric descent , it  is also  effectively sustained and reproduced when internalized and embraced by Non-Whites who though  systemic victims conform to the value and identity dictates of their White Supremacy perpetrators of their insidious systemic dehumanizing oppression.Such natures, ironies, and paradoxes of White Supremacy has been written about for generations such as by Frederick Douglass,  William E. B.  DuBois, Franz Fanon, and more contemporary observers.

 In many respects,  the historic U. S. Senate  confirmation hearing  of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson   to the U S.  Supreme Court symbolizes the  21st century  deepening  cracks  in White Supremacy in American dominant political culture and in our general private and public lives as Americans. Neo-antebellum ultra right influenced Republicans and their White nationalist hate lobbies  could not sink the  superbly  prepared savvy Judge or rattle her as, perchance, it would have occurred less than a generation ago and definitely earlier due to the acceptable Jim Crow norms of American elite political culture. Just recall Clearance Thomas ‘ screeching “hi tech lynching” allegation  in his 1991  Supreme Court confirmation hearing . Sure now Associate Justice  Thomas  got the job but has been tainted in public imagery ever since as being appointed through manipulating  elite White male guilt  than displaying significant judicial competencies thus being forever viewed ironically by many as what he opposes most: being  an affirmative action appointee in the worst pejorative way.

Every one who has taken a first grade Sociology class on  the coded languages of racism realize the traditional stereotypes about Black people being soft on crime and approving sexual deviant behavior let alone being overly sexualized creatures, in this case gendered stereotyped prejudices about Black women,are being covertly pedaled  by neo-antebellum ultra right  Republican Senators during the hearings. It is not working as significantly as hoped for by White nationalists disciples seen by the popularity  of Judge Brown Jackson in well respected national polls.

 So , the  racist ploys  advanced by the neo- antebellum ultra right  Republican Senators during the confirmation hearings  which also included subtle reminders that the Judge is not only interracially married ( forgetting for convenience Associate Justice Thomas is as well and that Associate Justice Barrett has adopted Black children) and that the Judge does not know what a woman is , subtext meaning White women , like the lowly regarded   White female  Senator from Tennessee define womanhood who had the audacity to imply such gendered sexist racism, are proving to be ineffectual if not backfiring. Instead what we have on full display is just another indicator of White Supremacy in the societal ICU unit dying while refusing to call for a  hospice faith leader to administer  the final rites.

White Supremacy is in a  resistant desperation phase,  at times,  materialized as  condoned violent  tactics of the  ultra right in Congress, in the Supreme Court  and in state governments , and  in civil society.  It is a crumbling  degrading and divisive manner of systemic and insidious racism attempting to spread its filthy now weakening wings through secret as well as reported  donors funders  to derail the demographic tsunami in electoral politics , in key areas of all education levels , in consumer, legal, and health sectors, and in faith which is sweeping the nation. The dominant  elite media exacerbates the massive denial of the inevitable death of White Supremacy through  conveying the  mass consumer   sense that the demographic tsunami is in  the mysterious mystical  distant  future when it is already quite here in so many ways and places.

The problem is  it is commonplace  for we human beings to internalize and use  obsolete knowledge to deal with the present let alone future. So while our ways we use to view racialized issues are stuck in 19th/20th  centuries lingo and prejudicial cognitive styles, what we are thinking and saying in our obsolete  ways of  viewing racialized selves and others  are becoming disconnected from what is really happening on the ground in a society experiencing an unprecedented transforming demographic tsunami. 

What the Judge Brown Jackson confirmation hearing  is symbolizing is  its obsolete White Supremacy styles of elite  discourse both in positive and negative senses.  Such positive ways  as President Biden  in his well intended though archaic way introducing  Judge Brown Jackson  as a Black  judicial superstar  rather than as the most competent on his short list for the job without mentioning her race or gender though making the campaign promise to nominate a Black  woman to the Supreme Court.  As well, by Senators on both sides of the aisle, especially Democrats, pointing out  the truism about how extraordinary  Judge Brown Jackson is; well exemplified by Senator Booker’s sermon of joy. Nice and well meaning but without sobering  public acknowledgement let alone sensitivity and awareness  that  such  Black and other Non-White accomplished  rarity is a historical structural outcome of sustaining inequality expressed in  the habitual ways Non-Whites  who have competitive extraordinary talents are  repressed and ignored or discounted or marginalized enough or just discarded  along the way.They never taste the privilege of even  reaching  for the door knob to enter  the doors of White power and privilege circles; especially  their most sacred inter sanctuaries.And when a rarefied Black and other wise Non-White does gets to turn the door knob and walks in more often than not they find themselves among White peers they are ten times  at least more competent both in interpersonal and analytical skills.

 Historically speaking, to provide an illustration of the “over competency ” dilemma Blacks no matter their careers  face we can note  the pertinent observations of recently deceased Harvard Distinguished Sociologist  Charles V.Willie. Namely,  Willie astutely claimed  that like in any other reputable university, to make it at Harvard  as a promoted and  tenured Professor, most Whites have had to be just “good enough” not stellar; an observation I  certainly noticed while on the Yale faculty and in other prominent American universities and a few abroad. And we see that is the case everywhere else in American society,including the U.S. Supreme Court, merit for Whites means being good enough be it brains, publications, or connections or cash or all  the above while for the rest of us it still is being a  Moses dividing the Red Sea or a Jesus walking on water  be it wearing pants or a skirt.

So racism can have the appearance of good intentions as well as bad as already stated about the circus performance of the confirmation led by neo- antebellum Southern racist Republican Senators stupidly trying to smear the impeccably competent  Judge using embarrassingly absurd obsolete ploys and rhetoric of a gradually declining era  of  standard habitual racial bigotry still embraced by  their delusional   racist White nationalist ultra right constituencies which includes Gina, wife of Justice Thomas who saw  no wrong in doing harm to the credibility of her Black husband in indulging in her  White privileged access to the Trump White House to delegitimate  the Presidential election of Joe Biden. Both in the Senate and in civil society the delusional  ultra right dreaming about making America White Again are putting on a  public show of desperation in their ineffectual efforts to derail yet another indication of the demographic tsunami transforming America no matter what they say and do.

With this said another most tragic example of the disjuncture between what used to be and what is as we slip away from being a White Supremacy ruled land is what we Black and otherwise Non-

 Whites internalize what we assume we must say and do to make it up some privileged career ladder. We Black  Baby-boomers and Xers  still think in too many cases like our Depression Generation parents and grandparents we have to be pleasing and appeasing to Whites in an era such butt kissing and apple polishing as well as smiling and joking or even being polite, gracious,  and considerate is drifting away  . We can and must stand up for our dignity rather than waste our time with appeasement and selling our integrity and identity for  a few silver coins tossed our way. We can scheme  and   get the  crown which we just might find is not that golden after all since we sold out to those Whites and other Non-Whites who had mixed feelings or  doubts of our capacities  since learned in childhood who 

now have proof we cannot be trusted since we cave  in when convenient  and thus have no moral scruples while  they do or as what they too lack. 

This is to say, if  elite circle climbing Black folks

 appease rather than stand for decency, honesty, and integrity, especially in this age when we really don’t have to,things will get worse for us once we get the position since during the interview process and before we even start on my  way, we have made it  clear we can be bent whenever it is convenient for those in power. 

We saw this in now UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield ,a seasoned Black woman diplomat specializing in Africa. Her Senate confirmation hearing was abysmal with the usual Republican  neo-antebellum circus guys especially Senator  Ted Cruz eating her for lunch such as forcing her to apologize for a balanced speech she gave on China in Africa at a Black university and to say no when asked if China was doing any good things in Africa. As a senior diplomat, like in the case of other Biden appointees on the hot seat such as,Deb Haaland the first Native American to head up the Department of the Interior, it was tragic she did not use her diplomacy skills not to put herself in such compromised positions, equivalent  to begging for the job,which has made her a rubber stamp for the Biden administration in the United Nations at times in need of push back rather than conformity .It has also weakened her negotiating power with China and Russian before and during the Russian-Ukraine conflict. 

We saw this also with Judge Brown  Jackson promising to recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative case which will deprive potential support colleagues of a crucial vote in a polarized court where supporters probably are outnumbered by their opponents. Certainly Judge Brown Jackson  is on the Harvard Board of Trustees, but she could have used her impeccable brilliant interpersonal skills to get around the issue such as stating she could not answer a question of a case before the court as she said when asked questions about her views on abortion cases or about expanding the Supreme Court. Or if pressed, she could have said it would be a matter of conference  justices discussion  since several had  previous Harvard connections and at least one Justice, was a direct beneficiary of affirmative action.Or, she can  take a   leave of absence  from the Harvard Board Board of Trustees  once the Harvard admissions case hit the docket– perhaps, this is not my lane. 

Nevertheless, how can you claim through your  public relations life story that you  understand the historical struggle of Black Civil rights and then promise to recuse yourself from participating in a critical affirmative action case? What this does is create a double standard for herself while you don’t see present  male Supreme Court justices accused of sexual improprieties or/ and being involved in the Federalist Society recusing themselves in cases with potential conflict  of interest perceived or real. One wonders what would have happened in Supreme Court racial and gender  civil rights decisions if  Associate Justices Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Ginsburg would have recused themselves due to their prior involvements in respectively Black and Women civil rights organizations and movements?

This is to say being polite, patient, gracious,  calm, charming, and grateful are all virtues to be embraced and admired as long as they are authentic and do not provide license to emotional abuse. While Senators were expected to ask Judge Brown Jackson tough questions some crossed the line of professionalism and common decency and were just  bone headed racist.  Rather than smiling and being so calm, there were some responses the Judge should have addressed more sharply and sternly because she could have without jeopardizing her confirmation given her credentials and responding to questions clearly out of line making it clear she would not tolerate inappropriate line crossing which White Supremacists assumed she would just roll over about. That speaks of the era we are now in. Speak up . Stand up when obvious lines of dignity and decency have been crossed  because that is the era we are now in; no longer having to sit there and take emotional abuse just because you are Black and want the job. And if we such stand tall  embedded in the sort of  well documented high competencies and political support Judgw Brown Jackson possess and get punished by not getting the gig,best not go there anyways.

It will take another few Presidential and Congressional elections and  changes in leadership in business, media, faith,  law, mental health, and all levels of education for us to swing the pendulum in the direction we are already  struggling to begin to become due to the nature and dynamics of the demographic tsunami existing and growing among us. Leaders who know how to surf the waves of the tsunami here and coming rather than drowning in them, thus  transforming us into the multicultural democracy we have always been and must become more so authentically through  effective 21st century restorative justice standards of living and being where mutual dignity  , mutual understanding,  and mutual respect with unity among all reigns with a new language of love and care for each other we embrace and share.

 What we observed last week in the Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings were the cracks in the sea of White Supremacy with the  demographic tsunami flooding away old racist systems without the language and the cognitive awareness or effective policy  practices yet to more than symbolically  grasp and embrace what is going on thus being paralyzed in the obsession of paranoid fear on all sides.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing demonstrated though through the neo-antebellum clowns Blackburn, Cotton,Cruz, Graham Hawley Senate   circus and other grotesque rituals such as the misfortune of  racist hate crimes and street  violence as indices of White Supremacy resistance to its inevitable decline, we are all getting there, just need the  societal restorative justice leadership to lead us and sustain us  there. It is surely coming and is here already. Just stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, as we say in America, ” back to the ranch.   I found  the following while  browsing Facebook. It  is a prayer for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her U.S. Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings  before the US Senate offered by Father Michael Pflrger:

” For overqualified women who remain calm, friendly,knowledgeable,  and professional in front of underqualified men, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”

Amen to all that.

Director ASARPI: The Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas Mauritius and South Africa former University of Mauritius SSR Chair of African Studies

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While GOP Wants Change, the Democratic Donkey in Power Dig in Their Heels

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“All the world’s a stage,” proclaimed the hero of a Shakespearean comedy. If we follow this metaphor, presidential elections in America are always a multi-act drama, often turning into a melodrama with elements of tragicomedy and even farce. Major and minor characters perform on the political stage, sudden plot twists are punctuated by various special effects, and culminate in a colorful extravaganza in November of each leap year.

The audience watching the play from inside the theater can only follow the actors’ performances, trying to keep up with the rapid unfolding of the plot’s intricacies, and wonder how the show will end. But unlike the conclusion of a Shakespearean comedy, much depends on the outcome of the US election. So, even if the opening of the show doesn’t herald a stunning display of stagecraft, the world’s attention will be focused on the American political scene in one way or another.

Two categories clearly stand out among audiences of this theater. The first can be conventionally described as political romantics. This group does not demand a reading from the actor, but a complete death in earnest. The romantics always talk about the “historic choice,” about the critical “bifurcation point” in the development of the US, and about the “fateful” significance of this electoral cycle both for America and for the rest of humanity.

Another category are the conventional skeptics. They assume that, for all its splendor and even pomp, the process will make little difference to the lives of Americans, let alone to all the other inhabitants of our planet. Mark Twain, who clearly belonged to the skeptical camp, is credited with perhaps the most emphatic credo of the latter: “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

These two categories are certainly present in Russia. Our romantics always hope that a change of team in the White House will open up new opportunities in relations between our two countries. Today, they assume that there can be no one worse for Russia than the incumbent US president. They remind us that, since Richard Nixon, it has always been easier for Moscow to deal with pragmatic Republicans than with ideological Democrats. They also pay tribute to Donald Trump, generously quoting his recent reassuring statements about Russia.

Skeptics, for their part, stress that American foreign policy has always been bipartisan and that there is a strong negative consensus against Russia in the American political establishment. They also often bring up Trump, but only as a clear illustration of the fact that even a US president who is generally favorable to Moscow is inevitably powerless in the face of the all-powerful ‘deep state’.

Probably both romantics and skeptics have their own truth. But if the skeptics are right in general, the romantics may be sometimes correct. Indeed, there is now a broad and enduring anti-Russian consensus in the US – broader and more enduring than even a similar anti-China consensus. The White House and Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department, the leading media and influential think tanks generally have, if not unified, then very close positions on Moscow, and these positions are unlikely to change even in the medium term.

Nevertheless, any new team in Washington has to distinguish itself from the old one and prove its undeniable superiority over its predecessors. This means new nuances in foreign policy. For example, the Republicans will not abandon military support for Kiev, but they will have to take into account that foreign aid programs have never been popular with voters, especially conservative ones.

It is therefore reasonable to expect that the Republicans will seek to tighten control over how US military and other aid to Ukraine is spent. We can also expect them to push for a “fairer” distribution of the burden of military support for Ukraine between Washington and its European allies. 

Moreover, US approaches to Russia should be seen in the broader context of US foreign policy. For example, Democrats have traditionally been much more concerned than their Republican opponents about promoting liberal values around the world. This fixation wins Joe Biden points in predominantly liberal Europe, but creates problems with such important “illiberal” or “not quite liberal” US partners like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, or even India.

A Republican victory would be enthusiastically welcomed in these countries, but would pose a serious challenge to fragile transatlantic unity. These differences, though not radical, need to be taken into account by all international actors, including Russia.

As always, the Republican elephant in opposition today demands change, while the Democratic donkey in power wants things to hold firm. A victory for Biden in next November’s election would mean another four years of the status quo, unless the aging president is forced to leave office before January 2029. A victory for any Republican candidate would trigger a process of revision of policy, creating both new opportunities and new challenges for America and the rest of the world.

From our partner RIAC

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US-China: Creeping Escalation

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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 14, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

The deterioration of US-China relations has long been a generally recognised trend. Contradictions on specific issues, such as human rights, have been accumulating since the boom in trade between the two countries in the 1990s and 2000s. During the presidency of Barack Obama, the outlook for bilateral ties gradually began to darken against the backdrop of the US pivot to Asia, the situation in the South China Sea, and several incidents in the digital environment. Donald Trump took an even tougher line toward Beijing, directly voicing Washington’s entire list of claims against China.

The high-tech sector has become a key front for containing China. The general line of Washington is to limit the access of Chinese companies to the technologies of the United States and its allies. Such technologies can solve dual-use problems and lead to the subsequent modernisation of the PRC in both the military and civilian sectors. President Joe Biden has continued the prior administration’s protectionist course, which confirms the absence of critical inter-party differences on the issue of relations with China. Another indicator of China’s containment in the field of high technologies is President Biden’s new Executive Order “On Addressing United States Investments in Certain National Security Technologies and Products in Countries of Concern.”

The new Executive Order introduces a National Emergency due to the fact that individual countries use access to US civilian technology to develop their military-industrial complex. In the annex to the Order, China is named as such a country, as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The very concept of the National Emergency concept has its own specifics. More than four dozen states of emergency are simultaneously in effect in the United States with regards to various foreign policy issues. The president imposes them on the basis of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 (IEEPA), which gives the US Commander-in-Chief the ability to use economic sanctions to counter existing threats. That is, a state of emergency is introduced on a selective issue, and serves as the basis to exercise individual powers.

The Executive Order implies at least two innovations. First, the Administration, represented by the State and Commerce Departments, must create a list of foreign persons who are individuals or legal entities from a particular Country of Concern. In this case, from China. Such persons must be connected in one way or another with high-tech transactions mentioned in the Order. In other words, we are talking about creating another list, which, most likely, will name large Chinese technology and industrial companies and, possibly, their leaders or individual employees. Second, US citizens will be required to notify the authorities of certain transactions with these individuals. In addition, a number of other transactions will be prohibited. The list of such transactions must also be determined by the Administration and periodically subject to revision.

The new legal mechanism gives the Administration wide room to limit Chinese companies’ access to US high-tech firms. The flexibility of the mechanism will be determined by the ability to revise the categories of transactions, technologies and foreign entities that are subject to restrictions. At the same time, the mechanism is likely to provide more opportunities, in comparison with the norms that already exist.

Among the previously-imposed restrictions, one can note the prohibition of Americans from buying or selling securities of “Chinese military companies”. The ban was introduced by Donald Trump in November 2020. Biden modified it somewhat, but without major changes. The appendix named the largest Chinese companies in the field of telecommunications, aircraft manufacturing, electronics, etc. Even earlier, in May 2019, Donald Trump declared a National Emergency due to threats to the US telecommunications sector (Executive Order 13873).

The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei and a number of its subsidiaries were included in the Entity List of the US Department of Commerce — it was forbidden to supply certain goods in the field of electronics, including manufactured outside the USA using American technology. In addition, a number of Chinese companies have been placed on the Military End User List (MEU-List). These companies are prohibited from supplying certain items on the US Department of Commerce’s Commerce Control List.

Such restrictions have a negative background: separate legal mechanisms for sanctions against Chinese persons in connection with the situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), etc. In addition, members of Congress periodically propose sanctions bills against China in connection with a variety of reasons, starting from the already familiar topics of human rights and ending with sanctions for possible cooperation with Russia. During the presidency of Joe Biden, none of these projects became law, which does not exclude the adoption of those and other bills in the future.

However, the intensity of US sanctions against China is incomparable to the volume of US restrictions on Russia. So, for example, the number of Chinese persons under blocking US financial sanctions can be measured in the dozens, while the number of Russians already exceeds 1,700. This does not include those persons in respect of whom the so-called “Rule of 50%” is in force, extending blocking sanctions to subsidiaries and controlled enterprises. The same can be said about export controls.

Restrictions against Huawei, the creation of a list of Chinese military companies, and the replenishment of the list of military end users by Chinese enterprises create a media response. But compared to the restrictions against Russia, the sanctions against China are still negligible. It is forbidden to supply almost all dual-use goods, hundreds of industrial goods and “luxury goods” to Russia, including consumer electronics and appliances. Large-scale restrictions on Russian imports and transport sanctions complete the picture. In addition, the United States has managed to build an impressive coalition of sanctions allies against Russia, while it is much more difficult to create such a coalition against China.

However, there is no guarantee that Beijing will not face a similar scenario in the future. Back in 2016, publications cautioning about possible US sanctions against China presented an unlikely scenario. However, the situation in the early 2020s is already significantly different from that reality. The United States and China assume the irreversibility of confrontation, but for their own reasons, they delay its escalation. This does not mean that sooner or later there will not be a landslide fall in relations. Predicting exactly the timing and scale of such a fall is as difficult as was predicting a crisis in relations between Russia and the West. In the meantime, there is a gradual accumulation of restrictive measures, one of which was Biden’s new Executive Order. The creeping nature of the escalation gives Beijing time to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

From our partner RIAC

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Quad foreign ministers meet in New York for the third time

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Image source: X @SecBlinken

Quad foreign ministers met in New York for the second time this year and the seventh time since 2019. The four-nation grouping’s ambit of cooperation has clearly expanded and diversified over the years. What were the key talking points this time? I analyse.

The foreign ministers of India, Japan, Australia and the United States – four key maritime democracies in the Indo-Pacific – met on the sidelines of the 78th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on September 22. This was their seventh meeting since 2019 and the second of 2023. Notably, exactly four years ago, this four-nation Quad was raised to the foreign ministers’ level amid a UNGA session. Earlier in 2023, the ministers met in March on the sidelines of the G20 ministerial in New Delhi and in May, this year, the Quad leaders’ summit was hosted by Japan on the sidelines of the G7 summit. Having met twice in 2022 as well, the ministers congregated six times in person and virtually once so far.

The previous ministerial in New Delhi saw the four-nation grouping making a reference to an extra-regional geopolitical issue for the first time – Ukraine – and also the initiation of a new Working Group mechanism on counter-terrorism, a key agenda item for India and the United States, among other themes of discussion. Following the seventh meeting, India’s foreign minister Dr S. Jaishankar tweeted, “Always value our collective contribution to doing global good”, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked that the grouping is “vital to our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and together we reaffirmed our commitment to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter”.

Diversifying ambit of cooperation

The ministers have clearly doubled down on the commitments taken during their previous deliberations, particularly to improve capacity-building for regional players. The joint statement that followed the meeting read, “The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness is supporting regional partners combat illicit maritime activities and respond to climate-related and humanitarian events.” Similarly, the Working Group on maritime security promised “practical and positive outcomes” for the region. Prior to the recent ministerial, the Working Group on counter-terrorism conducted a Consequence Management Exercise that “explored the capabilities and support Quad countries could offer regional partners in response to a terrorist attack”, the joint readout mentions.

Later this year, the U.S. island state of Hawaii will host the Counter-terrorism Working Group’s meeting and tabletop exercise, which will focus on countering the use of emerging technologies for terrorist activities, while the Working Group on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) will be convened in Australia’s Brisbane for its second tabletop exercise. Earlier in August, this year, all four Quad navies participated in Exercise Malabar for the fourth consecutive year, off Sydney, the first hosted by Australia. However, as in previous meetings, the ministers didn’t specifically mention Russia or China with regard to the situations in Ukraine and maritime east Asia respectively.

On the Ukraine question, the ministers expressed their “deep concern”, taking note of its “terrible and tragic humanitarian consequences” and called for “comprehensive, just, and lasting peace”. In a veiled reference to Russia, the ministers rebuffed the “use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons”, underscoring the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, and called for the resumption of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows for the export of food grains and fertilizers from Ukraine to world markets via a maritime humanitarian corridor, amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Similarly, in another veiled reference to continuing Chinese belligerence and lawfare in maritime east Asia, the ministers stressed upon the need to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to maintain “freedom of navigation and overflight consistent with UNCLOS”, reiterating their “strong opposition to any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion”, including with respect to maritime claims in the South and East China Seas. Going further ahead, the ministers expressed their concern on “the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore exploitation activities”. The joint readout also had mentions of North Korea and Myanmar.

The evident and the inferred

Today, almost all the areas of cooperation of Quad countries happen to be the areas of strategic competition with China, the rapid rise of which necessitated the coming together of the four nations, even though this is not openly acknowledged. In this new great game unfolding in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S.-led Quad is trying to balance China’s overwhelming initiatives to capture the support of smaller and middle powers in the region and around the world. Placid initiatives such as the Open Radio Access Network, the private sector-led Investors Network, Cybersecurity Partnership, Cable Connectivity Partnership and the Pandemic Preparedness Exercises should be read in this context.

With the rise of Quad in parallel with the rise of China and other minilateral groupings in the Indo-Pacific such as the AUKUS (a grouping of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States), the existing regional framework based on the slow-moving, consensus-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was put to test. However, allaying all doubts, Quad deliberations at both the ministerial and summit levels continued to extend their support to ASEAN’s centrality in the region and also for the ASEAN-led regional architecture that also includes the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Despite somewhat differing regional outlooks, the Quad likes to see itself as “complementary” to the ASEAN, rather than an “alternative” to its pan-regional influence.

India, the only non-ally of the U.S. in the Quad, will host the fourth in-person Quad leaders’ summit in 2024. The Asian giant is often dubbed as the weakest link in the grouping, owing to its friendly ties with Russia, but other members intent to keep India’s bilateral equations with other countries away from the interior dynamics of the grouping, signalling an acknowledgement of India’s growing geopolitical heft in the region and beyond. This seems to be subtly reflected in the stance taken by individual Quad members in the recent India-Canada diplomatic row, in which they made sure not to provoke New Delhi or to touch upon sensitive areas, even though a fellow Western partner is involved on the other side.

  Quad Foreign Ministers Meeting  Month & Year  Venue
FirstSeptember 2019New York
SecondOctober 2020Tokyo
ThirdFebruary 2021Virtual
FourthFebruary 2022Melbourne
FifthSeptember 2022New York
SixthMarch 2023New Delhi
SeventhSeptember 2023New York

NB:- All three Quad ministerials in New York were held on the sidelines of the respective annual sessions of the UN General Assembly i.e., the first, the fifth, and the seventh meetings.

On the multilateral front, the four ministers reaffirmed their support for the UN, the need to uphold “mutually determined rules, norms, and standards, and to deepen Quad’s cooperation in the international system, and also batted for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including the expansion of permanent and non-permanent seats in the Security Council. While China and Russia, two powerful permanent members of the Security Council, continue to denounce the Quad as an “exclusionary bloc”, the Quad ministers and leaders tend to tone down any security role for the grouping.

However, a recent comment made by Vice Admiral Karl Thomas of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet during this year’s Exercise Malabar is noteworthy. He said the war games were “not pointed toward any one country”, rather it would improve the ability of the four forces to work with each other and “the deterrence that our four nations provide as we operate together as a Quad is a foundation for all the other nations operating in this region”. Even in the absence of a security treaty, in a way he hinted at the grouping’s desire to cherish its collective strength across all fronts and to check on hegemonic tendencies that may manifest in the region from time to time.

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