Archive for the ‘India’ Category

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India becomes largest purchaser of US weapons

February 26, 2014

This story is big on two counts:  first, it shows that India and the US are becoming ever more closely tied together on defense issues and, second, it shows that India is being pulled from Russia’s orbit.

Arms sales have always had a geopolitical component, but in the era of network-centric warfare, where weapons and weapon platforms are interlinked and dependent on a host of sophisticated systems and support to work to their full functionality, it is even more so.  The number of nations in the Indo-Pacific region who are increasingly reliant on US weapons systems is a clearer indication of an informal alliance system aimed at containing China than are any amount of treaties,memoranda of understanding and public announcements.

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India-China Relations

February 10, 2014

While India and China have been technically at odds for half a century over their long shared border, the reality is that they have spent most of that time in a mostly cooperative relationship.  However, that relationship might be changing.  India sees China as its primary strategic threat, and Chinese geopolitical moves are becoming increasingly unpopular  in India.  This long piece in The National Interest examines the quickening erosion of Indo-China relations and the role the US is playing in India’s strategic future.  Read the whole thing.

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Geostrategic ramifications of Iran Nuclear Deal and Port Construction

December 30, 2013

From a recent Iran Pulse:

The November 24th Interim Nuclear Agreement between Iran and the Six Powers provides for the limited easing of trade restrictions on strategic items such as petrochemicals products, aircraft parts, and precious metals, accounting for up to US$7 billion of trade over the next six months. With the prospect of even wider Iranian trade in the near future, India’s construction of Iran’s first deep-water port to meet modern shipping standards will radically transform Iran’s geo-strategic position, breaking the international economic pressure on Tehran and transforming Iran into the key transit link for the most cost-effective transportation corridor for European-Indian Ocean trade. While Iran and India traditionally have been allies in Afghanistan against Pakistan, New Delhi’s drive to construct a deep-sea port at the Iranian city of Chabahar along with transportation corridors running northward has been motivated by New Delhi’s economic rivalry with Beijing. For Iran, it means a centrally important position in the emerging pattern of trade between Europe and an ascending Asia.

chabahar-vs-gwadar-map1

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Can the BRICS truly create a New World Order?

October 9, 2013

That is the question addressed by Jagannath Panda in the latest monograph (link opens a pdf file) from India’s Institute for  Defense and Strategic Analysis.  Dr. Panda examines the rise of the BRICS as a challenge to Western dominance.  That the BRICS present such a challenge is inarguable; whether it can succeed in supplanting the West remains an open question.  Panda argues that the key to a BRICS led remaking of the world order lies in the relationship between China and India, the world’s two most populous nations.  Panda examines the two in context, their joint desires and their competing interests, and assesses the likelihood of their finding enough common ground to overturn the five century dominance of the West.  Written from an Indian perspective, this is certainly a worthwhile read.

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Is China’s Pacific Strategy actually “fake it till you make it?”

September 27, 2013

On one side are those who think China is simply using its full diplomatic arsenal to reassert legitimate and historic claims.  On the other are those who see analogies to German and Japanese imperialism just prior to World War Two.    But retired US admiral Mike McDevitt, currently a senior analyst at the private sector Center for Naval Analysis, thinks both positions are misapprehensions.  As reported by Sydney Freedberg at Breaking Defense, McDevitt believes that “I’m increasingly coming to the view that China’s reputation as a brilliant strategist is misplaced,  They’re very tactical [and] focused on whatever is in the inbox…. Their reactions in many places seem designed to shoot themselves in the foot.”  McDevitt also believes that China has far too many internal issues to allow itself to be sucked into a serious international conflict, so that the views of the hawks are as wrong as those of the doves.

I think that McDevitt is correct, but only in the short term.  Long term, the logic of Long Cycle Theory combined with China’s rapid ascent, the relative decline of the US, and the multi-nation Indo-Pacific naval arms race taken together indicate that just such a serious conflict is within the realm of possibility (if not, in fact, highly likely) within the next quarter century or so.

We are in the coalitioning phase

We are in the coalitioning phase

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China, India and the Geopolitics of Water

April 25, 2013

Supplies of freshwater – for drinking, for irrigation, and for hydropower – are as pressing a need for growing China as are supplies of oil, gas and minerals.  For most of the latter three, China can simply compete on the worldwide market for its needs and avoid any direct conflicts with other powers (although concerns about future supplies have them behaving aggressively in the South China and East China Seas).

Water, however, is another matter.  China contains the headwaters of many rivers on which neighboring nations are also dependent.  Unlike most nations, however, China rejects the notion of water-sharing treaties.  I have written several times in the past about China and the Geopolitics of Water, but their behavior has grown aggressive even by their own historical tendencies.  This has raised hackles in India, the nation most effected by Chinese water policies, leading a geostrategic thinker to pen a column in the Times of India calling China’s most recent actions “a covert water war.”    China and India have fought small wars in the past, and it is not inconceivable that a much larger clash between the Dragon and the Elephant could arise over water rights.

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China: An Arctic Power? UPDATE

April 22, 2013

about a year and a half ago I posted a story about China’s desire to join the Arctic Council and its aggressive pursuit of a large fleet of icebreakers.  This is the second update on that story (the first was last August, on the completion of the first Chinese transpolar navigation of the Northern Sea Route).  By the end of the decade, the Arctic is expected to become regularly ice free for summer navigation, and the shipping routes from Asia to Europe and the East Coast of North America would be much shorter (and safer, due to the increase in piracy in the southern chokepoints).  Strategically, a seasonally ice free Arctic changes geostrategic calculations that have been in place since Mackinder, explaining China’s interest.

Recently, we read that some other other important Asian nations might join alongside China, as India and Singapore are both mentioned as observer candidates as well.   This is a good thing, as together they would help to weaken Chinese influence (India will be a strategic rival of China for the rest of the century, and Singapore is a deep and trusted ally of the United States).   Naval power will be critical in the 21st century, as the Indian and Arctic Oceans join the Atlantic and Pacific as theaters of power politics.