Thursday, May 30, 2024

Of Pentagon, China, India and NSG

The lead story by a thoroughbred journalist Chidanand Rajghatta in today’s Times of India is factually correct on both its major points: (a) China is building forces on Indian borders and (b) China is thwarting US-supported bid for India’s admission into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The report also states that Pentagon has warned of China’s increasing military presence in various parts of the world.

It’s understandable that millions of TOI readers would be alarmed; and inclined to see US as friend as China as an enemy with aggressive intent. This narrative needs a bigger picture lest the Indian subcontinent, and Asia, is gripped with a heightened arms race. After all, a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia is arguably the greatest threat to life on our planet.

First, the Pentagon assertion that China is increasing military presence around the world. The truth is, it’s US which is operating/controlling around 1000 military bases worldwide, according to International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases. So much so that Pentagon “owns” the biggest land bank in the world. Over 50 percent of world’s weapons are supplied by US corporations.

Just a few weeks ago, US signed a deal to have five military bases in Philippines. US army has a “Pacific Pathways” program where it coordinates joint military operations with Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mongolia, South Korea and Thailand. Obama administration has approved the sale of 1.8 billion dollars worth of weapons to Taiwan, the biggest such weapons supply in years. South Korea was the leading US arms importer in 2014.

US is hell-bent on controlling the air and seas near the Chinese mainland from its bases in Australia, Guam, Japan and South Korea. A new semi-official report, by the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) details plans for Pentagon’s preparations for war against China. The report titled “Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025: Capabilities, Presence and Partnerships,” chiefly targets China.

The report is commissioned by the US Department of Defence, at the behest of Congress, under the 2015 National Defence Authorisation Act. It spells out Pentagon’s overall strategy for war against China, known as AirSea Battle.  This involves massive air and missile strikes on the Chinese mainland aimed at destroying key military assets, infrastructure, communications, economy and political leadership. It also involves an economic blockade of China by disrupting its maritime trade route through Indian Ocean. The report is a master plan to boost arms race in Asia that would inevitably place the region and Asia at a holocaust risk.

Enters India into the picture. There is little secret that India is into a massive drive to boost its nuclear and missile capability. Its defence budget has increased by 12% in 2014-15 to over $38 billion. It’s now collaborating with Israel in missile defence technology. It plans to mount MIRVs on nuclear-capable Agni V missile. Indeed, India is one of the leaders in global arms import. Indian Missile Defence Shield is for real.

Given the wariness with which Pakistan and China view India’s armed preparedness, and vice-versa, it’s logical that an arms race has ensued. The Indo-US Nuclear Deal of 2008 hasn’t helped matters. And now India and US have signed a 10-year defence framework agreement. Thus, to portray China’s presence on Indian borders as proof of its aggressive intent needs to be viewed in totality.

Now to India’s 48-nation NSG membership issue. Presently, it comprises mostly of OECD countries although it also includes nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Turkey and Ukraine. It doesn’t include India. That’s because NSG itself was formed in 1975 in the wake of India’s 1974 test explosion of an atom bomb. Since nuclear mercantilism is also important for rich nations, they made the distinction between nuclear weapons and nuclear power and created NSG. As they say, all is fair in business and war.

The truth is, US wants India—like it does with Indoensia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines—to be tied down in military alignments and facilities to counter China.  It wants a US-led front against the growing might of China. As NewsBred reported last year, US would love a China-India holocaust. It’s nobody’s friend.

If China were to place its military forces off Californian coast and discuss plans to carpet bomb the American mainland, the response of US is easy to guess. And yet, that’s exactly what Washington is doing in its “Pivot to Asia.” It’s up to India, China and Pakistan that they de-escalate rather than spiral the arms race. Trusting each other is better than be a pawn to a master who wants nothing but Asia in flames.

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