Dr Muhammad Khan
On the day Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the 19th Communist Party Congress, Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, criticised Beijing’s role with a clear inclination towards New Delhi. Mr Tillerson was addressing a gathering at the US Center for Strategic and International Studies. In his entire speech, the total focus of Rex Tillerson was strategic partnership with India on long-term basis, ‘100-year Strategic Partnership.’ Comparing the two greatest democracies; US being the oldest democracy and India being the largest democracy, US feels China is trying to undermine a ‘rules-based international order.’
Therefore the focus of US relationship with India is for the continuation of current world order with US as a sole super power. This arrangement is most desirable at Washington and acceptable to India, since it needs US support for its greater power projection. Otherwise, there are serious reservations against a unipolar world order even at the western capitals, having a trans-Atlantic partnership since WW-II. China and Russia are overtly opposing this and have decided to work jointly towards a multi-polar world.
Analysing the salient aspects of Tillerson speech, the principal demurral is, whether there is a ‘rules-based international order’ in practice at the global level? The post-cold war world has indeed been exploited by few power centres and under the liber interventionism. Under this approach, causes have been (and are being) created for the attainment and implementation of strategic objectives of a single power with the ultimate aim of maintaining the status quo; a unipolar world order. Destabilization of Middle East through twice invasion of Iraq, destruction of Libya and Yemen, keeping Syria in a crisis situation, promoting ideological divide and even a fissure within GCC states is not a service to the region or Muslims but, all aiming to protect Israel and maintain domination of US in Middle. Then, keeping Afghanistan in a state of turmoil for the achievement of its strategic objectives in this region is not a service to Afghan masses. There is an exploitation of entire African continent and Turkey, a NATO member is being targeted for not toeing the US line in Middle East. Is this the rules-based international order, US along with India is struggling to maintain.
The most critical area, UShas chosen for the 100-years Indo-US strategic partnership is Asia-pacific. As stated by Secretary Tillerson, ‘US vowed to work with India in preference to China over the next century to promote a “free and open” Asia-Pacific region led by prosperous democracies.’ It is worth mentioning that, five major economies of the world are centred in or around Asia-Pacific region and these are Asian. These include; China, Japan, South Korea, ASAEN and India. US being an extra-regional power in Asia has already created a split among these economic giants, primarily for the maintenance of its supremacy and at the same time keeping a check on China. As yet, China has not posed a threat for the regional countries of Asia, the American alliance with Japan, South Korea and even some of the ASEAN countries is trying to create a conflicting situation in the region. At the broader level of Asian continent, US alignments are aims at creating conflicts, both at inter-state and intra-state level. In this way, the Asian Continent will keep boiling in conflicts; China will not be able to challenge the US at global level and countries like India would continue boosting their status strategically and economically.
At the South Asian level, US is promoting India, to play an enhanced role in Afghanistan as advocated by Rex Tillerson in his speech. He said, “We think we have wisely chosen a partner in India for a strategic relationship,” We’ll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society that we can have with a major democracy.” It was quite funny on his part once he said that, ‘he did not want the Indo-Pacific region to become hostage to disorder, conflict and “predatory economies”. After having stayed there for 16 years as an invading power, US better understands the dynamics of Afghanistan and implications of any enhanced Indian role. Indian presence in Afghanistan has been identified by many US officials as an irritant for Pakistan, China, Central Asian states and even Russia. Would this continued insistence for a bigger Indian role in Afghanistan promote peace and stability or further push this country towards instability with a larger regional turmoil?
Besides Afghanistan, US desire to assign a larger security role to India in entire Asia. For this purpose, US would like India to have a larger military like US and for that purpose; Pentagon is exploring the possibility of framing new security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region where India along with Japan and Australia will play a key role. “The Trump administration is determined to dramatically deepen ways for the United States and India to further this partnership”.
The Indo-US 100-year strategic partnership will be disastrous not only for Pakistan and China, but for entire Asian continent. This partnership is all about promotion of Indo-US agenda against any country, not acting in line with Washington and New Delhi. Through promotion of Indian role in Afghanistan, US would put the entire region into a conflicting situation. This will neutralise the Chinese OBOR, the CPEC and any Sino-Russian role for the stability of Afghanistan. Let’s understand the dynamics and long-term implications of this strategic alliance and prepare a response, suiting the Asian nations and South Asians in particular.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.
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Dr Muhammad Khan