Cold War 2.0: Security of India and Indians has now been pawned to the Americans
India is now a principal player in the new 21st century Cold War. The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) with the United States on October 28 signalled as much
Whether Indians like it or not, India is now a principal player in the new 21st century Cold War. The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) with the United States on October 28 signalled as much. The Americans issued a statement with the usual rhetorical flourish. “The battle in the world is between freedom and authoritarianism and India, like the US, has chosen democracy and freedom and sovereignty…”. The two largest democracies will now together fight for freedom. The language has remained the same from the Cold War era. In the 1970s and the 1980s too, the Americans went to various parts of the world to uphold democracy and freedom! India was then deemed to be in the Soviet Bloc of course.
The Americans talked of a free world and the Soviets were painted as the leader of a dark world of authoritarian order with no civic and human rights. The Cold War came to an end in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union crumbled under the weight of the war that it had launched in Afghanistan, which proved to be its Waterloo and consumed the global communist leadership that V.I. Lenin had established in October 1917.
Then followed a US-led unipolar era of globalisation, free trade and wars like Afghanistan and Iraq that led to the rise of jihadi terror politics across the globe. While only God and Time know what the consequences will be of the new Cold War for humanity, in the rivalry between the US and China, the US has ensured that India will be the principal theatre in containing Chinese ambition to emerge as the new world leader.
While political and geo-strategic reasons are being cited to justify India’s decision to embrace Uncle Sam, we seem to have virtually pawned our security to the Americans. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed much when he said: “The US is ready to do the things it can do to deliver safety and security to the Indian people…”. So, our safety and security are now in American hands. India is no longer just an American ally like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Even our security is primarily now an American job as Pompeo declared. Was it necessary for us to get sucked into the new Cold War to such an extent that we have embraced the Americans?
The RSS believes in a Hindu-Christian-Jewish global alliance to contain the rise of an Islamic power block. The Jewish state of Israel is already one of the key pivots of our foreign and strategic policies. India has never been so close to Israel as it has been in the past six years. Events like ‘Namaste Trump’ were clear indications that public opinion was being prepared to sign a formal treaty with the US to seal a Hindu-Christian-Jewish alliance. And the BECA has formalised that Sangh dream in foreign affairs.
Strategically speaking too, the Chinese incursion inside Ladakh and the PLA move to capture the Galwan valley limited Narendra Modi’s military options. Modi thrives on hard core nationalism. Losing Indian territory to the Chinese army will be a permanent blot on his political career. He would like to recover the lost territory and hard sell it for electoral gains as he did in 2019 with Pakistan.
All military experts agree that it is not feasible for the Indian Army alone to get even with the PLA. Besides, the threat of Pakistan joining China for a two-front war is a serious possibility. India may not officially declare that it is at a military disadvantage with China. But it is the grim reality. But how reliable is an American partnership? The history of American military partnershipsshow that they have not proved beneficial for many of its allies in the past. Pakistan, which from the 1950s till quite recently put all its eggs in the American basket, learnt the hard way that the Pentagon has no permanent use of its junior allies. Even NATO is not secure as President Trump keeps complaining that Europe does not pay enough for security safeguards.
Pakistan had CEATO and SENTO pacts with America and was America’s major ally in the war against terror. It fought the American proxy war against the Soviet Union inside Afghanistan. Yet neither democracy flourished in Pakistan nor did Pakistani people gain from the American alliance. Pakistan military did get a few crumbs. Yet America turned its back on it when the Indian Army split Pakistan into two in 1971.
American allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt too have not gainedmuch, except for spending a major chunk of their money on US arms purchases. India too will undoubtedly bleed itself white in buying toys that it has done without but which now appear necessary for existence.
Unfortunately, Narendra Modi is no great visionary. His politics is simplistic. First, he weighs political moves in electoral terms. Secondly, he weighs whether his electoral politics promotes the Hindutva agenda. The shattered Indian economy has weakened him. Bihar seems to be slipping away. A good fight with China at an opportune time may help Modi electorally and BECA is a premium he is willing to pay. It does not bother him much if the country loses in the long run or if India goes Pakistan’s way over time.
(The author is Editor-in-Chief, National Herald)