If you are ambivalent about the foreign policy orientations of the Indian government, what do you do? Answer: Read the lips of US State Department officials. They will give you an authoritative account of what secret foreign policy elites do.
However, do not let yourself be fooled by what Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar says from time to time. I have come to this bitter assessment after reading stunning remarks by US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun on August 31 in an online discussion hosted by the US Strategic Partnership Forum
They were quite long thoughtful, well-structured and quite premeditated remarks.
Coincidentally, Biegun is not a hand in India, though he is the No. 2 official in the US State Department and is an American businessman and a Russian-speaking diplomat who has been a staff member on the National Security Council in the George W Bush administration and US Special Representative for North Korea in the Donald Trump administration.
Biegun frankly revealed on Monday remarks that the U.S. seeks to formalize its closer defense ties with countries in the India-Pacific region India, Japan and Australia as something like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with a view to opposing China.
The discovery was well argued, conveying the particular impression that this is work in progress.
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According to a report conducted by the South China Morning Post, Biegun said Washington’s goal was for the US Quad group of Japan, Australia and India to work together as a defense against a potential challenge from China [and] to create a critical mass around the common values and interests of those parties in a way that attracts more countries in the Indo-Pacific and even from all over the world to line up in a more structured way.
To quote Biegun: The Indo-Pacific region actually lacks strong multilateral structures. They have nothing of the strength of NATO or the European Union. The strongest institutions in Asia are often not, inclusive enough and I think there is an invitation there at some point to formalize a structure like this.
Remember, NATO also started with relatively modest expectations and a number of countries [initially] chose neutrality over NATO membership.
Biegun added a warning that the US would keep its ambitions for a Pacific NATO in check, stating that such an alliance would only happen if other countries are as committed as the US
But he added that the Quad group is expected to meet in New Delhi this fall, and cited Australia’s possible participation in India’s upcoming Malabar naval exercise as an example of progress toward a formal defense bloc.
Biegun noted that the US wants Vietnam, South Korea and New Zealand to finally join an expanded version of the Quad, citing the four countries’ highly cooperative group meetings with officials from these nations in response to the Covid pandemic. -19.
He added that the meetings between senior officials of the seven nations were highly productive discussions between highly cooperating partners and one that we should look to see a natural cluster of countries that will really do their best to move forward. this combination of interests.
Surprisingly, Jaishankar took part in this online discussion, but what Biegun said is diametrically opposed to what we are used to hearing from Jaishankar namely, that India has no bloc mentality, Quad is not directed against any country and that India intends to pursue foreign independent policies.
Has Jaishankar deliberately deceived the Indian public? Indeed, some deep issues arise here. The government’s conspiracy of silence suggests that a systematic abduction of India into a military alliance with the US has been in progress for some time. In particular, it precedes India’s current military situation with China.
The blockade with China provides an excuse for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to reveal its real agenda only the alibi that Indian politics will need to transform Quad openly into an Asian NATO. It’s a deeply disturbing thought.
Not long ago, on June 1, 2018, Modi submitted a main address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, eloquently supporting India’s ABC policies in the Asia-Pacific region. It was a provocative speech, almost Nehruvian in its originality and vision. Let me quote some excerpts:
The Indo-Pacific is a natural region. It is also home to a range of global opportunities and challenges Today, we are called upon to rise above divisions and competition to work together The inclusion, openness and center of ASEAN and unity, therefore, lie at the heart of the new Indo-Pacific.
India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or as a limited membership club. Nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate. And by no means do we consider it directed against any country. A geographical definition, as such, cannot be.
India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific Region is, therefore, a positive vision. It represents a free, open, inclusive region that embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography, as well as others beyond who have an interest in it.
Southeast Asia is at its center. And ASEAN has been and will be essential to its future. This is the vision that will always guide India, as we seek to work together for an architecture for peace and security in this region. Rivalry Asia will hold us all back. Asia co-operation will shape this century.
We are the heirs of the Vedanta philosophy that believes in the essential unity of all and celebrates unity in diversity, (truth is one, the learned speak for it in many ways). This is the foundation of our civilized ethos of pluralism, coexistence, openness and dialogue.
It is impossibly impossible for Modi to refine his Shangri-La speech by supporting India’s vast inclusion of the worldview, the centrality it gives to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the values of pluralism and coexistence it values. For two years, however, that visionary speech has fallen into the dustbin. Was it an empty speech?
The great nations do not make such flip-flops on the world stage when it comes to anchoring their beliefs and ethics. Could it be that Modi is not happy knowing that his foreign minister is planning to host a Quad minister in Delhi this fall as a prelude to the creation of an Asian NATO?
The Modi government has stripped India of its chastity belt and is preparing for it to be another concubine in the harem of superpowers. Modern history tells us that Americans are quite incapable of having equal relations. How did it happen that the ruling elite has so quickly forgotten the colonial history of India?
The strangest part is that India’s ruling Party Bharatiya Janata, which wears nationalism up its sleeve, is eagerly stepping forward on a ground where ASEAN is afraid to tread.
MK Bhadrakumar is a former Indian diplomat.
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