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The Underwater Arms Race and Deepening Submarine Rivalry: Case of AUKUS

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Abstract: This research article focuses on the new maritime defense three-way security alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States in the Indo-Pacific region. The pact is based on the idea of constructing nuclear impelled submarines class while collaborating in the Indo-pacific region. Australia, United Kingdom and United States seeks to enhance their ties with the new trilateral defense pact.  The article discusses how the trilateral defense pact is leading to a new nuclearized era which will impact at regional as well as global level. Likewise, how AUKUS highlights the importance of Indo-Pacific in the foreign policy of different states in the theatre of geopolitical affairs in the 21st century. The trilateral security agreement signed by US, Australia and UK has instantly become a matter of interest and controversy on the global arena, the breach of contract between Australia and France is amplifying the tensions. The article elaborates, how the three partners have amalgamated with an aim of introducing a new Australian submarine fleet which will assist collaborations in security. The research has been conducted under the theoretical framework of classical realism.

Introduction

Indo-Pacific has gained currency in the recent times as a construct of political geography. Geographically, Indo-Pacific is the inter-connected space between Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. However, its expense is much debated and depends upon the definitions by different actors. Strategically, it is increasingly being reckoned as the flashpoint of the globe, both politically and economically. As the geo-politics and geo-economics has been shifted from Europe to Asia, Indo-pacific has become a new rallying point for the stakeholders including China, USA, Japan, India, ASEAN and Australia to define their strategic positions. The region is home to more than 60% of world population with rich natural resources. Ten largest world standing armies reside in Indo-Pacific. Strait of Malacca’s central position in the Indo-Pacific makes it economically very important. The three major rising economic powers: China, India and Japan also use this region for their trade and energy supply. So, to all intents and purposes this region is capable of either empowering or destroying the economy of the whole world.

Two broad reasons for the emerging importance of the Indo-Pacific region are: the growing foot prints of China in the region, and the relatively declining power and influence of the United States. As a consequence, it has become a center for the strategic and counter-strategic moves by the actors. It has now become the new focal point for the US-China rivalry. The seriousness of the fact can be deduced from the mid-2018 trade war between US and China which dragged the global economy during fiscal year 2019, to its slowest pace since the financial crises of 2008-2009. Moreover, this region is full of flashpoints that can serve as potential sources for conflict. However, it can also serve as a source of prosperity and peace for the whole world if China and the United States joins hand together.

Indo-Pacific construct has also emerged as an important foreign policy tool of choice by states competing for regional superiority. Resultantly, likeminded states are engaged in formulating alliances and partnerships in order to enhance their sphere of influence in the region. Recently, the Indo-Pacific region has seen a wide spectrum of alliances in which Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is the most significant one. Furthermore, a new security pact has been penned down called AUKUS, among Australia, USA and UK.

Under this pact, the United States and the United Kingdom will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. On 15 September 2021, US President Joe Biden, speaking alongside Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced the creation of a new strategic alliance involving the three countries that was codenamed AUKUS. The announcement of this strategic pact has given a rise to many concerns on the implications of security engagement and strategic positioning in the region. Moreover, this pact has also challenged the legitimacy and the value of already existing alliances like Quad in the region.

AUKUS has generated fierce opposition. China has condemned this new agreement, calling this pact as an antagonist agreement that will create an imbalance in the region.  The Indian Ocean has already witnessed an upsurge of military modernization and the strategic balance has already been shaken. Regional states are trying to hold strong foots in the region whereas the littoral states are already fearing the effects of militarization in the region. Quad is one of those agreements that faced immense criticism from regional states like China and littoral states like Sri Lanka. Thus, the region is witnessing a great shift and that is evident from the fact that the Indian Ocean has now emerged as a major foreign policy tool of the great powers as well as the rising powers. This has compelled the like-minded states to form alliances and now wide array of pacts are signed that only caters this region.

AUKUS is one of those pacts that have clear military dimensions. The US and Britain plan to equip Australia with stealthy, long-range nuclear-powered attack submarines. It has clearly irritated its apparent target, Beijing, which will now try to accelerate its own rapid build-up of submarine fleets and anti-submarine forces to counter the new Anglo alliance. This will result in strategic competition of acquiring more and more advanced weapons that will undoubtedly lead the region to wide array of conflict. Thus, in the longer term the Indian Ocean will witness massive turmoil, naval competition and strategic rivalry hampering the peace and stability of the region.

AUKUS and the Future of Alliances in the Indo-Pacific

AUKUS is defined as “enhanced trilateral security partnership” that seeks to strengthen already established bilateral ties which the three states share. The partnership will also focus on deeper security integration, cooperation in the realms of defense, technology and industrial bases. The most important aspect of this agreement is the provision of nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia. The US and the UK plan to provide Australia with eight new nuclear powered submarines that would greatly extend the range, endurance and firepower of Australia’s submarine fleet. The agreement is already in the initial stage but as per the official it will take at least 18 months to devise “optimal pathway” and put the project on operation.

The strategic necessity of AUKUS is stemmed from the US, the UK and Australia. The US under Joe Biden aimed to strengthen its alliances and make America great again whereas for Britain it was important to rebuild its image in the Indo-Pacific and “Global Britain” was the major driving force. On the other hand, for Australia China’s rise in Indo-Pacific is the threat to its interests in the region and has compelled the nation join the nuclear-powered submarine club. These three outlooks ultimately resulted to culminate onto a single point that is to curb China’s assertiveness both economically and militarily. Yet this pact has raised many concerns in Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea and China. China has fiercely criticized this historic pact, describing it as “extremely irresponsible” and “narrow-minded”. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said this pact would risk the stability of the Indo-Pacific “severely damaging regional peace… and intensifying the arms race”.

Furthermore, this pact has generated fears in South East Asia and Middle East. The deal that is the result of the emerging bipolar competition between US and China will see Iran capitalize on its own nuclear goals. This will undoubtedly result in the nuclear arms race in the region as Iran would argue that if Australia can acquire nuclear materials, so can Iran. Furthermore, in South Asia an AUKUS like agreement may come forward led by China with Pakistan. This could further pay-back to counter India, which Washington has tried assiduously to rope into an anti-China alliance. This could further impact that the conventional balance of power between India and Pakistan in the region forcing both the countries to adopt a more offensive nuclear doctrine.

Quad and the Formation of AUKUS

The announcement of AUKUS coincided with the first ever physical meeting of Quad member states. Before the announcement of AUKUS, Quad was seen as the major foreign policy tool of US in rebalancing of Asia. As soon as the announcement of AUKUS was made, the significance of Quad has been questioned. India then formally issued a response to the formation of AUKUS Foreign Secretary Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla stated that AUKUS “is neither relevant to the Quad, nor will it have any impact on its functioning.” But many of the analysts view that AUKUS would dilute the importance of Quad in the region and likely to impact the position of India.

Interestingly, the Indo-Pacific region has a witnessed a boom of mini-lateral institutions and more importantly they are directly or indirectly complimenting each other. These partnerships have involved one or two members of Quad and thus expanding the Indo-Pacific strategic matrix involving other members from the region. This is a smart play of bringing more countries closer with the aim to balance Chinese rise in the region.

The region has been a ground of many naval ventures, diplomatic and political partnerships. AUKUS is a stronger military alliance with the purpose of collective security. The Joint Leader Statement on AUKUS stated that the partnership will promote deeper cooperation on defense capabilities and information sharing. There will be a deeper integration in economic, strategic and political realm as it will pave a way to more industrial bases and supply chains. Thus, AUKUS has long term benefits for Australia that would instrumentalist its positioning in the global arena as well.

AUKUS and Biden’s Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pacific

The Biden administration has considerably focused on the Indo-Pacific declaring it central in advancing US political, economic and strategic interests. The US has been very robust in order to cater the Chinese influence in the region. Quad is the major diplomatic platform used by US to advance its interest in the region. It also held its first ever in person Leader’s Summit in September 2021. In the same month of September 2021, AUKUS opened up where the US and the UK decided to provide Australia with sensitive defense technologies. Together, these grouping demonstrate US role in defense, cooperation, health, education and hi-tech transfer.

US positioning in the Indo-Pacific shows their stance to compete to Chinese influence in peace times and at the same time deters military threats. In this regard, it is empowering its regional allies and thus ensuring a robust forward military presence. New Australia-US force posture initiatives will help US to expand its military air, land and sea access to bases. Australia’s strategic weigh will boost up because of these agreements enabling it to play a vital role in upholding a favorable regional balance of power.

Indeed, maintaining the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific is the utmost priority of the US, especially in times of China’s actions in the South China Sea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Therefore, US is willing to work with its allies to enhance the defense ties and sharing sensitive technology. For the first time in almost 50 years, US is sharing its nuclear submarine technology with other countries. Previously, US shared this technology with Britain in 1958. Over the decades, the agreement will broaden; collaborations in defense, technology, education, environment and health are expected. Furthermore, after the US withdrawal from Kabul and the fall of Kabul in August 2021, it was necessary for US to reaffirm itself in the region. Thus, AUKUS deal was a step to fill the strategic vacuum in the long sought ‘Pivot to Asia Strategy’. This deal highlights the reorganization of US interests in the Asia-Pacific. The AUKUS deal is the assurance of US’s security and presence to its allies in the region

The strategic trajectory of Australia

Australia has been very proactive in the Asia-Pacific in last few years. Moreover, the relations between China and Australia are also deteriorating that has resulted in Australia’s tilt towards US. AUKUS like security arrangement is also the result of China’s rise and its threat to the regional and global rule based system. AUKUS pact that is in core formed to confront China was hailed as “historic opportunity” by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison “to protect shared values and promote security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Announcement of AUKUS became costly decision for Australia for several reasons. Most importantly, it angered France and France felt that it was deceived and back stabbed. Furthermore, AUKUS is against nuclear non-proliferation regime. And most significantly Australia by signing AUKUS pact has officially entered into long commitments with US against China. This alliance will tie US and Australia together. Australia has entered into AUKUS pact for tackling Chinese economic coercion. But it is important to understand that militarism is not a response to economic coercion.

The China- Australia relationship began disrupting in second half of 2016. But for the most part Beijing limited its displeasure in the diplomatic realm only. The relationship worsened when Australia along-with the US started to attack on China over Covid-19. This resulted in Beijing wrath and it unleashed economic and trade disruption over many Australian products. Henceforth, Australia is experiencing continuous trade disruptions with China. After AUKUS, the China Australia relationship further witnessed a decline.

The AUKUS came as an important diplomatic move by Australia that aims to reaffirms its commitment to strengthening old ties to combat Chinese aggression rather than falling a prey to Chinese economic coercion. From Washington’s point of view, the deal will help and allow US to maintain its presence in the region. Biden again wants to establish the diplomatic ties through multilateral alliances that were previously hampered by Trump administration. Thus, it wants to re-exert its diplomatic and military in Asia-Pacific.

The submarine construction project that is the part of the AUKUS deal represents the urge of Australia to set up its own defence capabilities. As a result of this deal, Australia is under fire from both France and EU. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referred to the AUKUS announcement as “brutal”, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen indicating that Australia’s actions were unacceptable.

Australia sees itself central in a new mesh of global alliances centered on the Asia-Pacific.  For Australia, AUKUS is an important pact that will uphold and strengthen its naval, military and strategic positioning in the region. Whereas on the other hand, completely entering into the US block may trigger Chinese anger and it would further lead to economic coercion by China on Australia. Furthermore, the legitimacy of this pact has been questioned in many aspects and the foremost is the nuclear non-proliferation and NPT. Moreover, many analysts are of the view that AUKUS will build up Australian impendent blue water capability. Furthermore, many critics raise the concern of uranium enrichment and its impact on nuclear non-proliferation. Some of the critics are of the view that nuclear submarine need national capacity and currently Australia lacks that national capacity. Furthermore, a nuclear powered submarines base at the coast of Australia will become potent to maintain and dock this nuclear powered submarine. Thus, no clear statement has been released by any official on this and no clear cut course of action has been announced.

AUKUS – Opportunity for a Global British Strategy

The UK has always taken a leading role in order to cater the global challenges. But in past few decades the global order has witnessed major tectonic shifts. This change has further more challenged the global environment. It has impacted various countries to change their policies and course of actions. For Britain it also became very important to influence and protect its national interests beyond its borders. For Britain, to engage with the shifting global context and to establish a new type of relationship with the European Union requires it to evolve and enhance its mechanisms to achieve its goals. Britain needs to use its national resources more cohesively and deliberately. ‘Global Britain’ is about reinvesting and re-establishing its relationships with other countries and championing the rule based order and put forward a Britain that is more confident, open and inclusive on the global arena. For Britain, AUKUS is such a platform where it would portray the Global Britain image.

There are lots of speculations of why UK decided to enter into an agreement with Australia and the US. The first important reason is undoubtedly making a reality of post-Brexit by engaging more and more in the Indo-Pacific. The UK’s integrated review, a blue print for Global Britain published in March, 2021, mentions Indo-Pacific about more than 30 times. This report makes it clear that Britain wants a ‘broadest and integrated presence’ in the Indo-Pacific region. Keeping in view Britain’s ambitions, its decision to enter into AUKUS and its decision to send its aircraft carrier to the South China Sea gives its ambition a more concrete shape. Secondly, it wants to work closely with its allies. The Integrated Review also talks about the close relationship of US and UK.  This reports also talks about UK enjoying cordial ties with Australia and now after this deal it would likely be responsible for training Australian military to use these new nuclear powered submarines. Moreover, this reports also talks about the close relationship of US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand also called the Five Eyes. Thirdly, it will be about developing joint technologies and protecting undersea cables by using AI and quantum communications. This domain is very important because China is now steadily rising as a high tech-giant and now Russia too has entered this race with its cyber technology.

It is important to understand that by joining AUKUS, Britain is sending a very powerful message to China. Previously, China and Britain enjoyed very strong economic ties. Britain was the second largest destination for Chinese investments after Germany. Thus, slowly the Chinese influence even grew in the sensitive sectors. For Example, Britain signed the project to build a local nuclear power plant with China. This changed in 2020 after Britain announced that it would review the program without the involvement of China. London’s concerns on Chinese 5G technology Huaweii also met the same concerns. At first, Britain dismissed the American demands to ban Chinese companies. But as soon as Boris came into power, he backtracked and called on to remove all the Huaweii technology by 2027.

Thus, AUKUS is the confirmation of Britain to enter into allegiance with Washington against China. Furthermore, it also highlights the importance of Indo-Pacific in Britain’s foreign policy. Britain is also very well aware of the fact that it is Britain itself, which has Europe’s geostrategic footprint blue print in the Indo-Pacific, a fact that is well understood by the NATO alliance. Also Britain is providing its allies with highly equipped technologies in order to uphold the free and open Indo-Pacific. So, AUKUS at the time might instill anger among Europeans and Britain but UK and US by empowering Australia in the Indo-Pacific will be able to uphold the security and the rule based order in the Euro-Atlantic region.

A Competitive Geo-Strategic Environment and Impacts On AUKUS

AUKUS as a deal has been condemned by many states primarily by China and South East Asian Nations. This military alliance will further trigger the resentment in the region. The deal will likely alter the political and security dynamics of the Indo-Pacific. At the regional level, AUKUS confirms the underlying currents in the Indo-Pacific.

Japan has expressed its support for AUKUS. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has called to seek greater defence co-operation with Australia saying that Japan must work with the AUKUS partners in areas such as cyber-security, artificial intelligence and quantum technology. On the other side, India spoke less on this deal. Many critics were of the view that AUKUS may put Quad in danger to which Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla replied that the deal was “neither relevant to the Quad, nor will it have any impact on its functioning.” Moreover, India sees all efforts of AUKUS as China deterrent.

The US allies were not very vocal regarding this pact but for other Asian states this pact has put them on the horns of dilemma. This will be a very difficult situation for the regional states since they tried hard to avoid falling in any bloc. South East Asian states are trying to keep them aside in these developments. But Malaysia and Indonesia has raised stern voice over this pact stating that “this pact would escalate nuclear arms race in the region”.

China has sought to portray the AUKUS deal as an “Anglo-Saxon clique” and a threat to the nuclear non-proliferation system. China’s FM spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed the pact stating that an “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception”. China’s Ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining has likened Australia to a “naughty guy” over the AUKUS pact stating that this deal jeopardizes the peace loving posture of Australia. Furthermore, he also branded Australia as “sabre weilder”. Furthermore, hours after the announcement of AUKUS, China gave an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In striking contrast to its hard-liner approach, Beijing bid to join CPTPP demonstrating its efforts and commitment in upholding the rule based system in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, its espousal of multilateral security cooperation in the region has attracted many Asia-Pacific nations.

France’s reply to AUKUS was more strenuous than that of China. It was due to the surprise announcement of Canberra to abandon the deal to build the 12 conventionally powered submarines. The anger was legitimate as the consequences could be numerous. The collapse of this deal is a blow to French Naval Group. Reports in Australia describe the dispute between Canberra and Paris as a diplomatic disaster of Australia whose damage is uncontrollable. Furthermore, Paris felt humiliated by the secrecy of AUKUS. France recalled its ambassadors from Australia and the US- an unprecedented course of action among these allied countries. Furthermore, the cancellation of this deal can severely impact Macron’s political standing at home. His foreign policy has been already in severe criticism and it could be a blow the re-elections taking place next year. France needs to bolster its ties with Asian states. It already has numerous partnerships with India and Japan. Furthermore, it is important to understand that France is not the spectator in the Indo-Pacific in fact it is a resident power.

The AUKUS deal in many ways resulted in a tedious path for European Union. As per the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the way the United States handled the AUKUS process should be seen as a warning against the EU’s excessive reliance on other countries, including its closest ally the United States. Furthermore, the tensions compounded when AUKUS surfaced on the same day when European Union released its own Indo-Pacific Strategy. This awkward timing resulted in concerns in Europe as they viewed that not only France but all Europeans were neglected and sidelined from the Indo-Pacific strategy. The trans-Atlantic dispute may not fade easily. It revives the old French sentiment of isolation that is already visible through the frameworks of AUKUS and “Five Eyes”. Furthermore, the European continent is witnessing the rise of populist parties that are against Europe and Trans-Atlantic relations.

Rising Tensions in the Indo-Pacific Region

Indo-Pacific has gained immense momentum in past few years. Regional as well as extra-regional forces are trying to exert increasing influence in the region. But with the rise of mini-lateralism, the apparent convergence has been fractured. By negotiating with Australia behind France’s back, the US itself has raised anti-American sentiments in France. Furthermore, the AUKUS was announced on the same day when EU announced its own Indo-Pacific strategy. The revelation of AUKUS and the SSN program further triggered the global outcry. The announcement of alliance and the SSN transfer has affected the strategic balance of the Indo-Pacific. This will exacerbate tensions in the region and will result in increased militarization. US has been striving hard to consolidate its rule based system in the region. Littoral states of Indian Ocean have already raised their concern over the rising militarization of the region.

At present, the US has some 66 submarines, including more than 50 nuclear-powered attack submarines and more than a dozen ballistic missile submarines, according to the non-profit Nuclear Threat Initiative. Russia has 29 nuclear-powered submarines, of which 11 are capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles. China on the other hand, have 12 nuclear powered submarines, UK has 11, France’s 8 and 1 of India. After Australia acquires this technology, it will be the 7th country to possess it. Thus, if the US, UK and Australia deploy their submarines in the region, this will undoubtedly result in regional imbalance.

To balance China, US sees Australia as a potent contender. The agreement clearly stresses that it will seek external balancing in the Indo-Pacific region, outlining its specific aim of “working hand in glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.” External balancing will bolster US’s alliance in the region and could prove fruitful in mitigating Chinese influence in the region. And Australia is clearly the critical outpost of US in the Pacific. Furthermore, this deal will help America to revive its hub and spoke system of alliance in the region; a mechanism through which America assured its dominance and strong partnership in the region. In the longer run, US will depend on its allies to keep China into check and for this it needs strong and trustworthy allies in the region. Furthermore, the system of alliance and the growing militarization of US in Indo-Pacific may instill and arms and nuclear submarine race in the region.

Conclusively, the trilateral security agreement signed by US, Australia and UK has instantly become a matter of interest and controversy on the global arena. The agreement highlighted the importance of Indo-Pacific in the foreign policy of different states making it very clear that the region will be the theatre of geopolitical affairs in the 21st century. The agreement also aims to strengthen a security partnership in the region in order to uphold the peace and stability of the region. The US can totally outclass China in terms of military in the region, as it has number of allies. Yet, China’s economic muscles should never be neglected on which it can play at any time. The Indo-Pacific countries mainly pursue their trade with China and seek security from US resulting in a weak and fragmented regional structure. The US with Chinese economic interference will not be able to uphold its own rule-based system. Therefore, trade policy is a big hole in US’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, this security alliance has also deteriorated the relationship of France with US and Australia. Moreover, EU is also pessimist and reluctant to endorse this security pact since they feel cheated. Thus, AUKUS deal in this realm can be very costly as it lost the trust of some of its western allies. In addition, the acquisition of nuclear powered submarines by Australia is also put to question. This can undoubtedly trigger a nuclear arms race and will militarize the already militarize region. The littoral states of Indian Ocean want to ward off falling into one bloc while not being embroiled in the arms race between the two super powers. This agreement will have a drastic impact on the regional stability as it will result in the nuclearization of Indo-Pacific waters. More and more states will follow the suite and NPT will not be able to stop the countries of nuclear proliferation. Therefore, the security of Indo-Pacific is complex and dangerous.

I'm Aqsa Ghauri currently working as Research Assistant in Strategic Research Institute. I'm currently enrolled in an Mphil degree in International Relations at Bahria University, Islamabad.

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Defense

India’s Maritime Security Strategy in the ‘Century of Seas’

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21st century has been very aptly called the “Century of the Seas”. The core argument of the “Father of Sea Power,” Alfred Thayer Mahan’s- “The Influence of Sea Power” was that the secret to Empire building was the Sea Power or the Naval Strength of a nation. This has been proved repeatedly and still holds a lot of relevance today, specifically for a country like India which possesses a very strong maritime asset having a coastal length of 7516.6 km with world’s second largest peninsular area of 2.07 million sq. km. Regrettably, India has suffered from an intellectual vacuum historically with regards to policy making in the maritime domain in spite of being one of the oldest seafarers in the world, its maritime history dating back to 3000 BC (Indus Valley Civilization). But with the shift in power dynamics from Euro Atlantic to Indo Pacific, it has realized that its geopolitical aspirations cannot be fulfilled without giving the due importance to Maritime domain. The Government certainly thinks that India is ready to explore and expand its maritime domain by not just observing from the shore but by obtaining a larger stake in it.

India’s approach to Maritime security is quite holistic, it is not just about deploying battleships or policing the seas like Britain did in 19th century and China is doing now. Our intentions were made noticeably clear on the international forum when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high- level debate on maritime security in the United Nations Security Council in the month of August last year. This unanimous adoption of the “Presidential statement” was the UNSC’s first ever outcome document on this theme in which issues like piracy, economic development, marine environment, and illegal fishing were discussed. SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) initiative taken in 2015, focused on Sustainable use of oceans with cooperative measures. As a part of this policy, our Navy assisted many countries in the Indian Ocean Region in tackling piracies, disaster relief, search and rescue. A framework for security, safety, and stability in the region was the key objective of this mission. India aims to create a holistic and congenial maritime environment for not just its neighbors but for all the international players.

India’s soft power was always ahead of its hard power but for the last decade it has been trying to strike a balance by cautiously and carefully expanding its Maritime Power so that it does not threaten its neighbors while protecting its interests. Indian Navy has stepped up its overseas deployment by securing agreements with other strategically located nations for military access to their bases which include Indonesia’s Sabang Port, Oman’s Duqam port, America’s base at Diego Garcia and French base on reunion island. India has also invested in commercial ports like Chabahar which is under controversy at present but to build a large information radar network and boost cooperation with partners across the region, investment in commercial ports present in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, and Mauritius etc. must be given priority.

To demonstrate its pursuit through interoperability, India has become a part of various bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral partnerships and has drastically improved its Naval Diplomacy. It conducts and participates in a plethora of complex Naval Exercises with countries which share common interests and strategic convergence like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Vietnam, Britain, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil, and Quad members. These exercises serve the objective of demonstrating a shared vision of free and open Indo-Pacific. India also hosted the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) meet where the respective NSAs

discussed and agreed to setup their cooperation around Marine Security in 2021, it also invited these members were also invited to be a part of MILAN 2022 exercise in which more than 40 countries participated. Walter Ladwig argued that Indian Naval Expansion, thus shaping the maritime strategy existing today, involves three things: prevent intrusion from hostile powers, project power based off India’s interests, protection of the SLOCs[1].

The Naval Strategy forms a major part of Maritime Security Strategy, and the latest Doctrine by the Indian Navy released in 2015 -” Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy” is the revised and updated version of the previously outlined strategy released in 2007- “Freedom to Use the Seas: India’s Maritime Military Strategy”. A bold change in tone and sharpening of India’s   Maritime aspirations can be observed. Primary areas of interest as understood from the doctrine involve India’s immediate coastal neighborhood, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Andaman Sea, the gulfs of Aden and Oman, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. A significant amount of emphasis is given to the commanding of the sea and controlling of the chokepoints thereby securing the sea lines for open trade and communication. Indian Ocean has a roof over its head, which is not a good thing for a water body because the only entry and exit points in it are through 9 choke points or the navigational constrictions. These can easily give rise to transnational crimes which are dangerous from geostrategic aspect. From developmental aspects in the Indo-Pacific and the Asia-Pacific regions, the major chokepoints to be protected are Strait of Malacca which hosts 50% of world’s merchant fleet capacity, the Bab-el-Mandeb, which has principal oil shipping lanes, and the Strait of Hormuz, 40% seaborne crude oil passes through it.

Secondary area of India’s Strategic Maritime interest includes the South and East China Sea, Southeast Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, the Western Pacific Ocean, Antarctica, and the West coast of Africa. To increase its Naval presence in these areas, India has started pushing towards marine expansion, power projection and naval modernization. India’s maritime force is transitioning into a “building navy” which was previously considered as a “buying navy”, that confirms its alignment with India’s “Make in India” for attaining self-sufficiency and self-reliance. The strategy of modernization and indigenization of the aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers, submarines, corvettes, combat aircrafts and patrol crafts may sound promising but will only be effective if the delay gaps between the dates of delivery and actual commissioning are reduced. Ensuring Secure Seas states that “in order to ensure sustained presence, the Indian Navy will comprehensively address the twin issues of ‘reach’ and ‘sustainability’ of naval forces.”[2] This will include the concepts of longer operational cycles, mixing the force ratio between strike groups, enhancing logistical support and extending reach through naval air power.

There are many driving actors that influence the changing paradigm of India’s Maritime Security Strategy. The nuclear-powered countries, Pakistan, China, United States, and other non-state actors play a vital role. Pakistan Navy’s face value does not seem to be capable of posing a threat to India, but it does possess sea-based nuclear armament and under-sea warfare elements which present a significant challenge. Just like any other nation in the region, Pakistan also has economic stakes in the Indian Ocean. Typically, it does not have any “Blue-water” aspirations but when combined with the strength of PLAN, it can indeed become formidable to be countered. China, is clearly marching towards becoming the global superpower by directing its energy towards the sea

1 Walter Ladwig, “Drivers of Indian Naval Expansion,” in The Rise of the Indian Navy: Internal Vulnerabilities, External Challenges, ed. Harsh V. Pant (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012), 25.

2 Directorate of Strategy, Concepts and Transformation, Ensuring Secure Seas.

or in theoretical terms following the Mahanian principle. It has exponentially increased its footprint in the Indian Ocean region in recent years which is directly posing a threat to the stability of this area. But the document ‘Ensuring Secure Seas’ see China as a partner in maritime cooperation and not as a threat. According to John Garver, the PLAN has sufficient capability “to seize the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal as an effort to control the Strait of Malacca chokepoint.” In terms of technology, Indian and Chinese navies are equally equipped but India has an advantage in aircraft carriers whereas China in undersea warfare.

US Navy is one of the most powerful navies in the world, and being an economic superpower, Indian Ocean Region is of great strategic concern for US. PRC’s growing relations with Pakistan has strengthened US’s relations with India, it has emerged as a strategic maritime partner. Deals signed between Ministry of Defence, India and American contractors have further built up the cooperative security in the region so even after being capable, US navy certainly does not have the intent to dominate India in the maritime domain. India’s Naval Doctrine has mandated that the “Indian Navy will project combat force in and from the maritime domain, and undertake offensive action for national defence.” This projection of combat force will involve a consolidated effort across the spectrum of maritime warfare to include anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare demonstrated from all platforms in the navy’s inventory. The Indian Navy’s aspirations for power projection and sea control are similar in maritime doctrine to the United States, whose proven combat operations at sea can attest to success of said doctrine.[3] This conceptual mirroring will allow for better cooperation among the two maritime nations.

The maritime strategy of a country must be in alignment with the economic and political realities of it. Indian Navy’s new doctrine “Securing the seas” elevates it above its previously assigned ‘Cinderella Service’ role. India has high diplomatic, economic, and military stakes in the Indian Ocean Region. Interestingly, last decade has witnessed the shifting contours of India’s attitude, it has become more aggressive, upfront, and competitive in this domain. India is already a key player and the main security provider in the region, if it sustains the momentum that it has set, China’s assertiveness cannot stop it from becoming the leader in the evolving Maritime architecture.

[1] Walter Ladwig, “Drivers of Indian Naval Expansion,” in The Rise of the Indian Navy: Internal Vulnerabilities, External Challenges, ed. Harsh V. Pant (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012), 25.

[2] Directorate of Strategy, Concepts and Transformation, Ensuring Secure Seas.

[3] Century of the seas- unlocking Indian maritime strategy in 21st century

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Defense

The Profits Side of the War in Ukraine

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Image source: war.ukraine.ua

The war business is extremely profitable, because governments are willing to spend anything in order to win. In a country such as Russia, where all of the weapons-manufacturing firms are 50%+ owned by (controlled by, and serve) the Government itself, profits are not the main objective, national-defense is; but, in a fully (or nearly fully) capitalist country, such as the U.S. and its allies, the people who control the decisions are actually private investors, and profits are their main (or only) objective; and, so, the controlling investors in ‘defense’ firms hire agents (including politicians) in order to control each of their main markets, which are their own country and the countries that those investors are allied with. Also, in order for their weapons to be able to be used, target-nations are needed, whom those armaments-investors (and their news-media) declare to be their nations’ “enemies” and consequently to be lands that their weapons should be targeted against (if “enemy”) or to defend (if “ally”). Both “allies” and “enemies” are needed, in order for these investors to have a thriving armaments industry; and both “allies” and “enemies” are needed in order for those companies to have markets (their own nation, and its “allies”) and to have targets (the “enemies”). The key here is that in order to maximize the profits of armaments-firms’ investors, they need to control their own Government, because that Government will determine which other nations are also markets (“us”), and which other nations are instead targets (“them,” or “enemies”). These investors therefore need to control, above all, their own Government, in order for them to succeed, to be, themselves, “winners” at the investing-game. These investors also tend to control their nation’s ‘news’media, because those businesses validate the Government’s “allies” and “enemies”; and thereby validate its invasions (so as to pump their weapons-sales). And this is the way that capitalism functions; and it is the way that imperialism (which is a natural adjunct to capitalism, because capitalism serves investors above all — not workers, nor consumers, but specifically investors) has always functioned, in order to produce wars (which serve only the wealthiest).

Perhaps the world’s largest and most effective marketing organization for U.S.-and-allied armaments manufacturers is NATO, but many others (perhaps not so well known) also exist, and sometimes provide more candid information to the public. 

Here are relevant highlights from an interview with Ukraine’s Government, at a major recent international trade-show by U.S.-and-allied weapons manufacturers, as published by the trade magazine for America’s armaments-industry, National Defense, whose publisher is the National Defense Industrial Association:

——

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2022/6/15/ukraine-to-us-defense-industry-we-need-long-range-precision-weapons

https://archive.ph/Hwrwq

“BREAKING: Ukraine to U.S. Defense Industry: We Need Long-Range, Precision Weapons (UPDATED)”

by Stew Magnuson, 15 June 2022

The war-torn nation desperately needs artillery and artillery rounds, but what can truly give it the upper hand over its Russian invaders are long-range precision weapons such as armed Predator drones, loitering munitions and the multiple launch rocket system.

Denys Sharapov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of the defense in charge of procurement, support for weapons and equipment, and Brig. Gen. Volodymyr Karpenko, land forces command logistics commander, spoke with National Defense Editor in Chief Stew Magnuson and other reporters through an interpreter in the Ukraine Ministry of Defense’s booth at the Eurosatory conference in Paris on June 15. …

At Eurosatory this week, you’re meeting a lot of defense companies. What are your expectations since they normally sell through their own countries? What’s the purpose of talking with companies and not countries?

Sharapov: So those are parallel processes. There are constant government negotiations on all levels, diplomatic levels, military levels, ministry-to-ministry — both ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of defense — I believe this is not only an ongoing dialogue, but this is unprecedented dialogue.

It doesn’t matter whether we work with private enterprises or government enterprises, any weapon transfer is made upon the decision of the government. So that’s why we are really hoping for the support of those governments. …

Our readers are about 1,800 corporate members of the defense industrial base in the United States. What message do you have for them? And what do you need from them urgently?

Sharapov: The [Ministry of Defense] is concentrating currently on fulfilling all the needs of the armed forces. You asked a question about needs. First, you have to understand that the frontline is 2,500 kilometers long. The frontline where there is active combat in more than 1,000 kilometers long. That’s like from Kyiv to Berlin. … As of today, all the people in all of our armed forces and within the defense and security sector is up to one million people. And we have to support them all. We have to supply them with small arms, with personal protection gear and with the means of communication. …

We have received a large number of weapon systems, but unfortunately with such a massively expendable resource, it only covers 10 to 15 percent of our needs. We need artillery, we need artillery rounds, infantry fighting vehicles, combat vehicles, tanks. We really need air-defense systems and the multiple launch rocket system.

Also, high-precision weapon systems, because we believe that high-precision weapon systems will give us an edge over the enemy, the upper hand in this war.

There is a debate in the United States about whether to send Ukraine armed Predator drones. How important are they to your fight?

Sharapov: The party that will win in this war will be the party that will first start using contemporary high precision equipment and weapon systems. And those drones that you mentioned, they are a part of the modernized, highly accurate, highly precise, modern equipment. …

As of today, we have approximately 30 to 40, sometimes up to 50 percent of losses of equipment as a result of active combat. So, we have lost approximately 50 percent. Approximately 1,300 infantry fighting vehicles have been lost, 400 tanks, 700 artillery systems. …

Equipment that has gone to the rear of the frontline is maintained solely by Ukrainian specialists that have been trained by different foreign companies for that specific purpose. …

Quite unfortunately for us, we have become the biggest consumer of weapons and ammunition in the world. And we’re hoping to receive support from the entire Europe and the entire world. …

At Eurosatory this week, you’re meeting a lot of defense companies. What are your expectations since they normally sell through their own countries? What’s the purpose of talking with companies and not countries?

We really expect that the governments we’re cooperating with will fully support their weapons factories in support of Ukraine.

My first Eurosatory was 20 years ago. And all those years Ukraine was a seller of weapons. And this is the first exhibition when instead of being a seller of the weapons, we have become the largest consumer. This is the first year of Eurosatory where we are represented not by our industry, but instead by our ministry of defense, who is the consumer, who is the client, the purchaser of all these weapon systems. …

You can trust us with your weapons, your technologies, to use them to best of our abilities. We know how to use them. We know how to fight a war with them.

And it is largely due to the efforts of the Ukrainian armed forces that many foreign brands are currently on the front pages of newspapers. People are naming their children Javelin.

——

A good example of how this works is that Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, which is one of America’s leading marketers of U.S. invasions and wars; and his Amazon Web Services subsidiary supplies the cloud-computing services to the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and entire Intelligence Community; so, he, himself (as Amazon’s top stockholder), is a major U.S. Government contractor. Subscribers to news-media in America are paying subscription fees in order to be inundated constantly with propaganda to increase the sales by contractors to the U.S. Government. The controlling investors derive part of their wealth (in Bezos’s case, a major part of it) from their Government, and another part of their wealth from selling to the subscribers to (and advertisers in) their publications and news-networks the propaganda that will cause the U.S. public to vote for their preferred political candidates and against the ones that those investors don’t prefer. This makes the entire operation “democratic,” even if the winning candidates of each of the two political Parties — both candidates — back even larger ‘defense’ expenditures by the one government in the world, the U.S. Government, that already spends approximately half of the entire world’s costs for ‘defense’.

The United States Government, and the Governments in Europe, don’t have enough money to protect the health of their people, and to provide the educational systems that they need, and to reduce crime, and to maintain and improve the infrastructure for them, but instead are prioritizing weapons-production, in order to defeat Russia on the battlefield of Ukraine, which borders Russia. That is their top priority. Ukraine has threatened Russia ever since Obama’s coup there in 2014. That was the opening round of World War III. Ukraine is an authentic national-security interest of Russia, because it’s on Russia’s doostep. That’s why Obama grabbed it. But Ukraine isn’t an authentic national-security interest of the United States, nor even of other nations in Europe. None of them were not only on Russia’s border but couped by the U.S. Government in 2014 and thereby transformed from being neutral to being rabidly anti-Russian. Russia struck back on 24 February 2022, which precipitated the current explosive boom for U.S.-and-allied armaments firms and their investors. Those investors are being well served by their Governments. But those nations’ publics are not. Is this democracy? Or is it instead fascism? Will one find reliable, trustworthy, evidence on that matter, in the newsmedia to which one has subscribed? In a time of war, should one seek-out to access, on a regular basis, especially newsmedia from countries that one’s own Government labels as being “enemies”? In a capitalist country, how can a person intelligently seek-out truth regarding international relations? It’s a real problem. Therefore, it is a problem that’s ridiculed (as ‘conspiracy theory’ or such) by all of the mainstream media in those countries. Sometimes, some things are too true to be publishable within the mainstream. That’s especially common in a dictatorship. Anyway, it is the case in U.S.-and-allied countries today.

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Defense

The New Nuclear Arms Race

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Nuclear weapons are currently an international security issue. Lessons learned from past events have contributed to a global fear of such weapons. Simultaneously current events are indicating a global trend in nuclear proliferation, especially among powerful actors. States in possession of nuclear weapons are focusing on developing their nuclear capabilities and expanding their programs. Why is that so? Why are states still building nuclear weapons? Are these states conscious of the dangerous consequences involved? Are we experiencing the threat of a nuclear war?

In this paper, we will first define the term nuclear proliferation since it is key to understanding the different aspects of international security. Next, we will look at the different existing models explaining the current trend of nuclear proliferation and link these models to past events. Eventually, we will try to understand the recent developments in the field of international insecurity and analyze whether there is currently an international source of a nuclear threat.

Nuclear proliferation

It is important to understand the term nuclear proliferation. To do so, we need to define “proliferation”. The Cambridge Dictionary offers the following definition: “the fact of something increasing a lot and suddenly in number or amount“ (Cambridge Dictionary 2022). To simplify this definition, proliferation can be understood as “growth and propagation” (Rizky 2022).

So, what is nuclear proliferation? Nuclear proliferation is “a spectrum of possible activities related to the exploration, pursuit, or acquisition of nuclear weapons by states” (Rizky 2022). Therefore, it refers to the sudden rise in the number of weapons in circulation. Indeed, powerful states are focusing on developing their nuclear capabilities by building new weapons, perfecting their capability to build such weapons as well as investing financially in nuclear technology and its sophistication.

The main actors currently owning nuclear weapons are Russia, the United States, China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel, France, and the United Kingdom (SIPRI 2021). However, not all of them are taking part in this pursuit of nuclear proliferation.

Reasons for the proliferation of nuclear weapons

Now that the meaning of nuclear proliferation is clear, another question emerges. Why do states still build nuclear weapons? International relations studies often offer an “obvious answer” to this question. Namely the idea of national security. States justify the building of nuclear weapons to ensure their national security in case of an external military threat. It is assumed that no alternative can guarantee their national security like nuclear weapons do (Sagan 1996).

However, this is an important question regarding the current global events and needs a more precise explanation. It is necessary to have a wide range of possible answers to envision the future of international security and its potential nuclear threat.

The answers can be divided into four different categories, respectively models. Namely the Security Model, which refers to the simple and basic answer found in most studies. The second one is the Norms Model, followed by the Domestic Politics Model and finally the Model we will be referring to as the Technological Race Model (Sagan 1996).

In Sagan’s article “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?” (Sagan 1996), he explains the three first models mentioned above. The first model refers to a state’s response to an external threat. States that have the financial resources, build nuclear weapons because it seems to be the safest option to ensure their national security. Weak states, however, states that could not invest in such expensive weapons, have the option to join alliances, such as an alliance with a nuclear power that would become an ally in case of a nuclear threat (Sagan 1996).

 Under this category, I believe there is also the idea of international anarchy. A powerful state hearing about another one building a nuclear weapon might consider this as a sign of potential threat. George Shultz explains this phenomenon as “Proliferation begets proliferation” (Shultz 1984).

Indeed, the proliferation started by one state will encourage another one to do the same and therefore take part in this nuclear proliferation as well (Sagan 1996). This phenomenon can be perceived as a post-war strategic reaction. In World War II the United States launched nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These events provoked the current trend of nuclear proliferation. The USSR, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, and Pakistan all reacted in a similar way. They invested in the development of nuclear weapons, widened their nuclear capabilities, and intensified their national research in nuclear technology (Rizky 2022).

This leads us to the next model, namely the Norms Model. Sagan explains this category as followed: “Nuclear weapons decisions are made because weapons acquisition, or restraint in weapons development, provides an important normative symbol of a state’s modernity and identity“ (Sagan 1996).

Indeed, nuclear weapons nowadays are a symbol of prestige and power. Therefore, powerful states follow this unwritten, international norm to ensure their global recognition. They take part in this nuclear proliferation race to show what they are financially and technologically capable of.

Sagan argues that the symbol of possessing nuclear weapons is similar to the symbol of a state’s Olympic team or national airline. In some states, national airlines are established more to demonstrate their technological capabilities and valuable human capital of scientists than to offer an additional domestic mode of transportation (Sagan 1996).

I believe this is also the motivation behind the third model of Technological Race. Globally, the United States (US) has been recognized as the leader in advanced technology and artificial intelligence. Especially when looking at Silicon Valley and its potential. Nonetheless, in the past few years, the US has been caught up by China, which has now become its biggest competitor. This indeed provoked the US to invest even more in its research and that is exactly what it did in its nuclear technology sector (Rizky 2022).

As we can see, this model refers to one country’s whole image as a leader in technology. But, this is only the case from a technological perspective. There exists another model from a political perspective, namely the Domestic Politics Model.

This category demonstrates nuclear proliferation as a tool to ensure domestic political interest. Not necessarily national interest, but the personal interest of at least one politician respectively, one political actor. Indeed, it could be the military influencing a political decision to get a larger national defense budget and acquire nuclear weapons. In such a case, the perception of an external threat could be worsened to promote the necessity of nuclear weapons (Sagan 1996).

Recent developments

For decades, the world has been focusing on disarmament and reducing the number of nuclear weapons in circulation. Especially the main actors mentioned above were dedicated to promoting different treaties to avoid the spread. However, these public announcements, coming from wealthy, powerful nations in possession of such arms are contradictory to the current trend in nuclear proliferation (Al Jazeera 2022).

Even more surprising is the fact that the idea of disarmament has suddenly disappeared after the Russian attack on Ukraine. In fact, in a matter of months, actors in possession of nuclear weapons have announced to invest in nuclear arms in order to increase, modernize and optimize their arsenal. Countries that wanted to get rid of nuclear arms are now putting strong importance on the capability of their weapons. Russia’s threat of using nuclear weapons against Ukraine has provoked a common global reaction to get ready for potential danger (Al Jazeera 2022).

Therefore, it seems like Russia’s war has already activated a nuclear proliferation trend, stronger and faster than in the past decades. A new nuclear arms race has started, altough this time it is not about technological capability and artificial intelligence. This time it is about being prepared and ready for a potential attack from a country possessing the world’s largest nuclear arsenal (Hille 2022).

Conclusion

To conclude, the Russian attack on Ukraine has provoked large, powerful nations to rush toward the development and modernization of their nuclear arms. This reaction has not only accelerated the proliferation of nuclear weapons but also created a threatening environment.

Nevertheless, I believe there will not be a World War III, even if Russia threatens to use its arsenal against Europe, because too much is at stake. The world is aware of the catastrophic consequences a nuclear attack can cause and has learned from the past lessons. Putin’s behavior is his way of showing the world how powerful he is, what resources he owns, and what he is capable of. There is no need for fear since his announcements are pure arrogance and bluff.

The large nations who joined the nuclear arms race are reacting to his threats as the world expects them to. Namely, appearing to act, preparing, and making sure their arsenal could be operated at any time, even if they are not sincerely planning on doing so. Governments expect to reassure their population by taking action and guaranteeing national security.

Therefore, the reason this nuclear arms race is happening is due to Russia’s threat of nuclear attack and led to international governments taking actions such as discussed in the Domestic Politics Model.

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