Syncing strategic stakes
The ambition to establish economic hegemony is the propeller of strategic pursuits. Military might is a means to further economic interests
Donald Trump's undemocratic antics threw diplomatic orders across the globe out of gear when he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Two more events followed thereafter: India expressed its disapproval for this announcement at the UN General Assembly, reiterating that India stands with the Palestinian cause and favours a mutual and peaceful resolution between the stakeholders; and unveiling USA's National Security Strategy that has some positives for India. Not withstanding Trump's bombastic ultimatum of snapping aid to countries in opposition to his declaration, this goes into deciding the possible geopolitical conditions which will eventually impact domestic economies.
In a move to assert the American dominance in the international arena, it comes clear that the USA acknowledges China as a challenge to its influence and hegemony. The dislike for North Korea is only too obvious but the dynamics propelling the open clash between the utterly unequal sovereign entities is something for India to be wary of. China's extraordinary belligerence to expand in and around Asia is very much a case in point. The South China Sea is a very critical angle for consideration for shipping routes that sustain the economy and for the estimated large reserves of oil and natural gas. The Philippines bears the brunt of China's aggressive ambition as Reed Bank, close to its coast, is a major untouched prize.
America's need to contain China goes beyond economic interest. The strategic necessity here is the containing menacing North Korea with its nuclear arsenal which is a potential global threat of unforeseeable magnitude. Given the situation when diplomatic solutions seem out of sight, deterrence with subtle power is the risky way out with North Korea. USA's sidelining Pakistan and reprimanding its state-facilitated terrorism does not come as a significant development for India because Pakistan continues to have China's tacit support. The pawn status of Pakistan for China is a particularly gnawing concern for India, now especially with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The USA supporting India in this context is significant for how matters will unfold along the lines of this strategic and economic bulwark.
The resurrection of the Quadrilateral alliance is an urgent diplomatic exercise to check and raise a counter to China's territorial dominion. This alliance of democracies (USA, Australia, Japan, and India) comes with renewed national interests of the participating states. Apart from strategic reasons, this time, economic considerations are paramount. The shift in perspective from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific region indicates the significant status accorded to India. However, the tricky aspect of this alignment is that it is not necessarily a positive undertaking aimed at constructive development; it is a counter-mechanism, the validity and relevance of which are determined by a non-participating entity.
China's signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Myanmar for its economic corridor (in the wake of stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar connectivity) also comes at a very peculiar juncture when the appalling, incessant persecution of Rohingyas is making headlines internationally. The fact that China does not offer asylum to Rohingyas despite having room to accommodate them in its ghost cities speaks of Chinese interest to secure and enrich its economy before everything else. Myanmar's agreement to this development also speaks of a similar understanding and accepting and whatever benefits available.
The clearest thing unfolding in the current situation is that economic interest is the propeller of strategic pursuits. Myanmar's massive humanitarian crisis does not keep it from turning its attention to lucrative and more substantial concerns in the larger interest of Myanmar. USA's invasion of Iraq for oil and the Middle-East isolating a prospering Qatar are some examples of statecraft at work driven by the ambition to establish economic hegemony. Military might is a means to further economic interests. The takeaway for India is that its foreign policy should be essentially socialist and economy-centric and all strategic moves ought to be directed for this aspiration. It is the economy that will sustain a state ultimately, not territory.
(The author is Editorial Consultant and Senior Copy Editor with Millennium Post. The views are strictly personal.)