Forming of AUKUS shows that India is now capable of asserting itself
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran
Whatever may be the failings of Nehru in geopolitics,he always guided the Indian foreign policy for gaining India’s strategic autonomy in order to safeguard sovereign rights and promote non alignment. However, weakening of India’s strategic autonomy began when in spite of 1974 nuclear test we did not go for nuclear weapons.
Realizing the above, Indira Gandhi rightly established the Integrated Guided Missile Project and within no time came up the Missile Technology Control Regime to deny concerned technology to India. Today India is a full fledged missile power. We are also a nuclear power.
In 1991 we had reached our economic Nadir. However Shri Narshimanh Rao the Prime Minister maneuvered things deftly and kept the ship moving In the right direction, even in the most darkest hours. It was because of Rao’s determination against all American pressures that in 1998, Atal Bihari was able to order the nuclear weapon tests. Today India is the third largest economy in the world ( PPP terms ). However we still have certain economic and strategic constrains because of the lost decade between 2004 to 2014.
In In July 2003, Atal Bihari had flatly refused when George Bush had pressurized India to send a an Indian Army Division to assist US troops in Iraq, though some In the Coliation Cabinet had advocated the same. Even in 2005 when PM Dr. Manmohan Singh had signed a strategic partnership agreement with the USA, without discussion in the Indian Parliament, it looked as if USA had prevailed. Today where is that Strategic Partnership agreement ? Similarly is the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), signed in 2016 as LEMOA.
The US had wrongly gauged India’s political determination even in that era. Today things have changed drastically. Since 2014, all international events are viewed and analyzed from Indian perspective and events. New Delhi is no more awed by any other Capital. So it is totally wrong on the part of Benjamin Schwartz, former India country director at the Pentagon, when he says : “What the signing of this [LEMOA] shows is that the Modi government is willing to take and suffer the short-term political criticism of signing these things for the longer-term benefit of building the defence relationship with the United States”. India has its own plans.
The US Government has totally capitulated to Taliban. They signed a peace treaty with Taliban at Doha in February 2020, to allow withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan but had failed to invite India for the talks. Now they are paying dearly for that deliberate mistake. The USA umbrella in Afghanistan just folded suddenly and with that over 20 years of effort, thousands of American lives wasted and $2-trillion-plus investment just evaporated.
A whisper has started that USA must try and gain the initiative by striking at terrorists in Afghanistan, and for this seek a base in India, from where to carry out the strikes.
Such a naïve and stupid idea for a staging area in India came up during a US Congressional hearing by Republican Mark Green asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “Considering rumours of ISI’s support for the Taliban, have you guys reached out to India as a possible staging area for the over-the-horizon forces? I’m talking about northwest India as a potential because we all know Qatar and Doha, the other places, are just a little bit too far… Kuwait, all of that. What about northwest India? And have you reached out — have you thought about that?”. Blinken cooly responded that he would “rather take that up in a different setting”, and that the US Administration is “deeply engaged” with New Delhi.
This shows that US Congressmen are not so Wise but Otherwise. They just assume that India, being USA’s signatory to LEMOA and CISMOA, cannot refuse Washington’s request for a military base. How ignorant of facts can they become? They think India is Panama ?
Today the USA is in no position to operationalize the 2016 Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA),for demanding a military base in India, for use as a staging area for beyond-the-horizon surveillance and launching attacks on terrorists in and around Afghanistan.They will just be ignored or told in the politest of the forms to just get lost.
India had known from the beginning that through LEMOA, the USA could demand India to hosting U.S. troops at its bases, or draw it into a military alliance with the United States. So right from day one, Indian Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar had told his counterpart US Defence Secretary Shri Ashton Carter in no uncertain terms that the agreement does not allow for US bases to be set up on Indian soil nor for troops to be stationed there.
So even with LEMOA and CISMOA signed, and BECA all but signed, USA should not even dream of a US base here. Any military operations launched by US troops from Indian soil can only feature in Hollywood Science Fiction movie. Even a US base in Sri Lanka or Maldives will not be permitted by India. The world has already seen how George Bush initiated a War in Iraq, based upon imaginary WMD. So any engineered attack on a US military base in India would be enough to start aerial attacks on the attackers in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
India as a Sovereign Power, a Regional Power and a Super Power in the making cannot act like Grenada or Haiti and permit USA to steer our Course and in the bargain cause Collateral damage on the geo political front, economical front and internal political front in the area under Indian influence.
In case Afghanistan and Pakistan are used as bases to carry out terrorism in Kashmir or other parts of India, then India will carry out its own deep strikes by various means. It has the capability, capacity and as demonstrated, the WILL to do it for safeguarding itself. We do not need any outsiders, no matter who.
The formation of AUKUS clearly shows that India has flatly refused to turn QUAD into a military bloc. India cannot be a partner in any military bloc, we charter our own non aligned policy and vote for multilateralism. Though PM Modi is joining the QUAD summit meeting in Washington on 24 September, and meeting with US president Biden separately, QUAD will be for economic and political cooperation only.
So any talk of India agreeing to provide a military base to USA is pure bunkum. This though in itself may not prevent USA seeking a military base in India for itself. Many naïve American Congressmen do not know that India is a sovereign democratic Republic, with complete power and authority over its territorial and material assets, independence and integrity of political and economic policy, and ownership, control & jurisdiction over all its national assets and properties. It also has the WILL POWER to defend itself from any type of direct or indirect aggression too.
A few Senator may feel that just because USA had both begged India, to cut oil imports from Iran “to zero” by a certain date and then even threatened sanctions without waivers and India had agreed, they can do so again. Then they are highly mistaken. Modi Government had stopped oil imports from both Iran and Venezuela due to its own reading of the situation and as per its own plan.
Any implementation of any Sanction by USA on India is going to boomerang heavily on USA itself. Yes, India may suffer some loss but it will have a devastating effect on US itself. They should not forget that India is an important partner in both BRICS and SCO and has its own SAARC, BIMSTEC and SAGARMALA initiatives.
Very soon a new partnership is likely to take off between India and France and India and Japan too.
Doklam, Galwan and the last Maldives crisis have demonstrated that India has the WILL to tackle China and now ready to contain China’s expansionist strategy. So American politicians should not even dream of asking India for a military base. We do not trade in our Sovereignty. Rather now everyone should become aware what Indian Ocean Region means.