This century seems eerily reminiscent of the last one. Then too, at the beginning, there was an ascendant world superpower, Germany, and a declining one, England. The two came to a head in World War I. Their clash continued in World War II. Neither really won the conflict. Out of the embers of World War II emerged two new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union went into oblivion in the late eighties, and the US remained as the sole superpower, a hyperpower really.
But then China was rising stealthily. Today China is the ascendant power, the Germany of the last century, and the US is the declining power, the England of the last century. The US is desperate to contain China’s rise, so has roped India into the Quad military alliance comprising Japan and Australia as well.
India has resisted war since 1971, a clear half-century. Pakistan provoked India in 1999 with its Kargil intrusion, but a wise Vajpayee refrained to escalate the skirmish into all-out war. An Indo-Pak war might decimate Pakistan but it will give India a bruising nose as well, so Modi and the Pakistanis are smoking the peace pipe now.
With China, India has minor disputes along its long border. That is no reason for India to join the Quad and threaten China. The two countries keen to go to war with China are the US as well as China’s eternal enemy, Japan. Where does India fit in? War with China will perforce happen near China’s borders, for China has no intention of going near the US to fight a war.
The country that is closest to China’s borders amongst all four Quad members—the US, India, Japan, and Australia—is India. India’s navy is weak compared to China’s, but in the event of war, the US will send its strong fleet to China’s shores. Panicked, China will hit out. The country the most to suffer will be the one closest to China, and that is India.
Australia has already said that it does not want war with China. What is it doing then in the Quad, a military alliance? India has very little reason to go to war with China. Yet, willy-nilly, it has allowed the US to drag itself into the Quad.
The world is changing, and it is changing fast. Nobody can stop the rise of China. The US army has flopped against small countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. It is only fooling itself and others if it believes that it can contain a behemoth like China. White hegemony of the world is finally at an end. China is going to be the next world number one power. If India remains war-free and focused on growth, it will be the number three power (after the US) in the next 15 years.
Two countries, each of 1.5 billion, at the forefront of the world is unacceptable to the white world. The UN Security Council has five permanent members—the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. Despite lip service extending over decades, white countries who are permanent members of the Security Council refuse to allow India in. That is because they don’t want another “coloured” country encroaching on their territory.
India seems to think that it’s China that’s blocking its entry. That may be the case, but if you look from the Chinese side, India provokes it often, for example by becoming a member of the Quad. If India were to kiss and make up with China, perhaps China will drop its resistance to India’s entry. But I can bet you that the four white countries—the US, Russia, the UK and France—will not want India to be in there.
In the event of a war between China and the Quad, China will feel threatened by the immense power of the US navy and will hit India hard. The conflict is really between China and the US (and yes, between China and its eternal enemy, Japan). Where does India fit in? Actually it fits in nowhere.
India must forthwith leave the Quad. If the thinking is that through the Quad, India will put pressure on China to solve India’s land dispute with China to India’s benefit, India is entirely mistaken. Yes, China feels pressured by the Quad, but militarily it is so strong now that it can take it on. Remember, the battle will be fought near China’s shores. If any land battles occur, they will be entirely between India and China and not between the US and China or Japan and China for neither the US nor Japan shares a land border with China. So India is most exposed to China and stands to lose the most in case of a military conflict.
The way to manage India’s border dispute with China is through negotiations and give and take. China is too strong now—militarily and economically—to be forced into a corner by a scheme like the Quad. A scheme like the Quad has only been conjured up by the US because it knows that it cannot contain China all alone. If it doesn’t contain China by engaging in conflict with it, the way the relative trajectories of the two nations are going, China will soon leave the US far behind. It’s inevitable really. Assume that all Americans and Chinese are smart and hard-working. How then can one expect 330 million Americans to compete with 1.5 billion Chinese.
If India gets into a conflict with China, the white world would have achieved its nefarious aim, that of keeping the “coloured” world down by keeping it in conflict with one another. India must not fall into this trap and must walk out of the Quad at once. Policy makers in India must see the world for what it is and not put on foggy glasses before they set their country’s foreign policy. The future of 1.4 billion Indians is at stake.