Where does India stand with US in Asia?
“There are no permanent friends only permanent interests”. The mantra of all powerful nations. It portrays America’s attitude towards Indian PM Modi before & after 2014. All that was said against Modi were swept aside to embrace him as their QUAD partner & visa issuer to Asia. It sealed the US Pivot to Asia & all that was needed was to declare the Indian Ocean as Indo-Pacific with mumbo-jumbo of “free & open” “democratic values” “inclusive” “unconstrained by coercion” providing the icing. What friends in high-places can do! Let’s not be too hasty to open the champagne, as Modi has seen of late, the skeletons they kept under wraps are kept ready to be plucked out whenever Modi doesn’t tow their line. So US is ready with the whip & topics are the usually flogged themes of “rights of minorities” “religious freedoms” “media independence” etc. But India is also ready and recently denied visa to a US envoy wanting to look into religious freedom, India also ignored veiled threats not to buy fuel from Russia & India did not take side of US allies in voting on Ukraine. These acts are not going to be ignored by US whatever “friend” or “QUAD” partner India is. India is not naïve not to know the game.
Note that all of these new friendships emerged with the elimination of the LTTE in 2009. The witchhunt against those that defeated the LTTE was primarily due to having eliminated their investment over decades. The West & their agents the Church & NGOs naturally had to reset their Asian strategy. Thus, Pivot to Asia was recharted. Noticebly India & US began to be pally-pally & scores of LTTE fronts emerged & mushroomed in Western nations. They were used as props against the GoSL & Armed Forces in Geneva. That drama continues annually alongside resolutions backed by US & Allies to which India also discretely aligns to by abstaining from voting.
The Asian continent is geographically important. It includes Indian Ocean & Pacific Ocean (65% of world ocean) and is home to 3.5b people (including over 58% youth) & holds nearly 2/3 world economy & economic growth (60% of world GDP), 7 of the world’s largest military and key choke points. 3million Americans are said to be employed in the region. As its power grows – so too has US eagle eyes on Asia.
Every time a world power speaks about “security & prosperity” the embedded message is their desire to “acquire” – thus India’s constant reference to “security” and US reference to “security” entails acquiring that which they want to secure for their security as a means of security. Sri Lanka’s leaders have failed to decipher these hidden meanings. That US eyed Asia is clear from its slow but subtle maneuverings in South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Pakistan laying its plans towards India & South Asia.
If US is pivoting to Asia & has carved an Indo-Pacific strategy to strengthen its hand in the region, US is unlikely to strengthen the hands of its partners except to use its partners as a prop. India must understand this very clearly. US never grows together with anyone. US will only allow India to “strengthen” itself against nations that US targets or considers its enemy. India will not be allowed to “strengthen” itself & pose a threat to US. In other words, US will outsource its dirty work to India and other Quad nations and make them fear the enemy that US fears – China. US wishes not to face China alone & needs the 3 Quad props.
The constant references to “free & open” should worry India & the security of its own sovereignty. Imagine US having access to India’s seas, skies & other shared domains in particular even internal India. What happens when US has free & open access to India’s media, civil society, information/data, military, police, legal apparatus, judges etc? What happens when US gets access to information that can be used to blackmail India or Indian leaders/public servants? Technological assistance may turn out a technological nightmare once back office controls fall to US hands.
Noteworthy is how US is using its 5 regional alliance partners to penetrate into others – Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Taiwan etc. The plan is to build an interconnectivity network that is aligned against China. Empowering nations of Asia has nothing to do with helping these nations grow but to secure these nations & coopt them to work against China. There is no growth for the citizens of these nations, except to co-opt locals who wish to work with US against China.
Therefore, there’s quite a lot of fishing taking place for projects that will align parties for the connectivity alliance against China – humanitarian assistance, maritime security, water/food & pandemic issues are the most popular themes of late. Locals are also drawn into anti-cultural initiatives like LGBTQ, transgender, forsaking eastern values to embrace western values as a means of directly hitting the culture of nations which is as important as national security to keep a nation together.
What is the US Indo-Pacific Plan?
Regional investments – new embassies which means more US presence
New themes – climate, health, security, development
US military – increased Coast Guard presence
US-involvements – training, deployments, capacity-building, people-to-people exchange, Peace Corps, fisheries
Advanced initiatives – cyber security, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, undersea capabilities.
QUAD initiatives – green shipping network sharing satellite data, cyber capacity, graduate degrees in STEM fields, women’s leadership & empowerment, Open Government Partnership, foreign-assistance policies to root-out corruption, partnerships with civil society & journalists
“Our considerable strategic ambitions derive from the belief that no region will be of more consequence to the world and to everyday Americans than the Indo-Pacific” clearly explains why Asia is important to US strategy.
Where does India’s ambitions in Asia fit in with this US Indo-Pacific Plan. What India must realize is that all of America’s QUAD partners are only equal in statements but poodles in action. What is America’s view of Akhand Bharath https://fb.watch/l5Fv-t_XcR/ Will US allow such an Indian expansion to take place unless US will use it to get India to acquire what US will eventually grab from India? Is this why US is happy to watch the sudden chorus for 13A (subtly backed by India). Has it occurred to the Tamils in Sri Lanka demanding this that their utopian Eelam homeland will be laid to rest quicker by India than the lackluster Sri Lankan leaders who have been fumbling with the topic without decisive actions being taken to negate the claim. Surely, Sri Lankan Tamils should know that when India didn’t allow a separate Tamil Homeland in Tamil Nadu, it will not allow such in Sri Lanka’s North & India is happy to allow the demand, as it facilitates India’s greater dream of acquiring Sri Lanka’s North including East which is home to the world’s most strategic natural harbor – Trincomalee.
There is much for India, Sri Lankan Tamils & Sri Lanka’s own leaders to digest vis a vis this US Indo-Pacific strategic plan.
The trips by US envoys & the target individuals and groups they meet are clues to understand what the greater US plan is. Where India draws the line & when Sri Lanka’s leaders will wake up to see these ramifications is the most important question.
Shenali D Waduge