Indo-U.S. Axis and Major Powers
August 21, 2017
As a constant of history, the nation States are busy in trying to adapt to the highly unstable geo-strategic environment. As the countries pursue their national interests, new alliances are emerging and the global order is in a flux. Indian so-called strategic partnership with the U.S is an example in which New Delhi has latched on to Washington’s weakness to contain a rising China and resurgent Russia. In order to gain balance in Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. has formed an axis with India and has sidelined its traditional nuclear non-proliferation goals as a quid pro quo to appease New Delhi. Instead of taking seasoned counsel of the likes of Henry Kissinger, the last two American administrations have taken a zero-sum approach under Indian lobby’s influence and have made same strategic choices that are a stark departure from American ideals. These strategic choices have been taken out of a fear China’s peaceful economic rise, its increasing influence in Central and South Asia and in other areas stretching into the Middle East and Africa. Likewise, Russia’s defensive efforts to prevent forays into its core territorial buffers in Crimean Peninsula have been interpreted as effort to resurge globally and a threat to American global pre-eminence. There is enormous dissent even within American strategic community on American threat perception and its strategic choices, in which the less influential camp believes that American interests with China are like those of Siamese Twins – you kill one and the other will die as a consequence.Since India has chosen to side with the U.S in containing Russia, a crack has emerged in their relations but talking about it remains taboo because both countries are still economically intertwined. Russia depends on Indian defence spending largesse that promises an investment of US$ 100 billion in nuclear industry sector alone. Owing to this, New Delhi exercises substantial leverage over Moscow’s foreign policy. China and Russia have exercised pragmatism in dealing with Indo-U.S. Axis and made India member of SCO in perhaps a hope that India may revert to its so-called policy of non-alignment.Pakistan believes that the simultaneous inclusion of Pakistan and India in SCO would help in bringing the two countries on the same table and in reducing the trust deficit between them. However, there is a misperception that because of the so-called Indo-U.S. strategic partnership, Pakistan is drifting into the Sino-Russian camp. Contrarily, Pakistan is working on a very pragmatic foreign policy. The country still holds its relations with the U.S. in a very high premium and is also building relations with the Russia. Relations with one country are not at the cost of another. Sino-Pak relations are not only all weather but a factor of regional stability. In 1970s, Islamabad opened Beijing to Washington. Furthermore, it seems that Russia will not be able turn a blind eye toward Indo-U.S. Axis, despite its privileged defence spending related relations with India. The Indo-U.S. partnership includes technology transfers, co-production and establishment of a bilateral defense Procurement and Production Group must have raised eyebrows in Moscow. India is a big market for Russian arms export and seeing this market going into their arch rival side will further strain bilateral relations.As far as Pakistan is concerned, the Indo-U.S. strategic partnership is a recipe for regional instability. Indo-U.S. cooperation in civil nuclear energy and conventional military domain is bound to exacerbate Pakistani security dilemma and vitiate regional stability. Conversely, if India and Pakistan could bury their hatchets and resolve territorial disputes, both countries could partner with Russia in Chinese Belt and Road Initiative for unprecedented economic empowerment of this region. Russia has shown its interest in connecting CPEC with Eurasian Economic Union. In this regional rise, India seems destined to lag behind and become a victim of its own medicine. The timely completion of the development of the corridor would be an important milestone for regional connectivity. It would help Pakistan and China to connect with resource rich Central Asian States. Likewise, BRI and its CPEC would provide Russia with easy access to the warm water of the Arabian Sea. Recently, the inclusion of Pakistan as a permanent member in the SCO shall help in bringing the three countries closer to address these common challenges. Despite number of convergences, there are several hurdles that affect the prospects of meaningful trilateral relationship. Russian agreement to supply Ballistic Missile Defence system to India may impede the prospects of this growing relationship. It is important to understand that the convergences among Russia, China and Pakistan clearly outweigh the divergences. It is difficult to gaze through the crystal ball and predict how would Indo-U.S. Axis impact the global stability. Perhaps, the policy makers in Washington and New Delhi should read Kissinger’s On China for constructive perspective that is grounded in a competitive cooperative partnership rather than dangerous zero-sum game.
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