Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region where independent nations could “thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules.” Without naming China as the target, Trump also used the phrase repeatedly at the start of a meeting Monday in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Bloomberg.    Trump also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila and called him a friend and a “great gentleman.”

Trump's Asia trip also saw the revival of a decade-old but short-lived partnership of four maritime nations (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) worried about China’s rising influence in the region now being described as "Indo-Pacific" rather than its usual moniker of Asia-Pacific.  Senior officials from the four countries met in Manila for the first such meeting since the George W. Bush administration, focused on regional issues including North Korea but topped with China-related concerns.

US-India Anti-China Military Alliance?

To some observers, the "Quad" appears to be a throwback to the Cold War era in which the United States wants to use Narendra Modi as a willing ally to check China's rise. They cite lack of confidence in the current American leadership under Trump to follow through on any international or bilateral commitments.

While the US seeks to use India against China, the Indians remain obsessed with Pakistan. They talk about the lack of American concern for India's interests in South Asia and the Middle East. Writing for The Wire, Indian analyst Manoj Joshi complains that "there is no reciprocal US commitment to issues of Indian concern relating to Pakistan and the dangers arising out of the highly volatile environment in the Persian Gulf area which the US has helped create".

India's Pakistan Obsession:

It seems to me that the US policymakers don't fully appreciate the Kautilya doctrine that says "your neighbor is your enemy and your neighbor's neighbor is your friend".

The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

Summary:

President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the "Indo-Pacific" region in an obvious attempt to sign up Delhi to counter Beijing in Asia.  However, the Indians remain obsessed with enlisting the Americans to hurt Pakistan. The Trump administration is willing to engage in anti-Pakistan rhetoric but it is not going to act against Pakistan as long as Afghanistan remains important to the US interests. This is where their interest diverge now and likely to remain so at least in the foreseeable future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Why is India Sponsoring Terrorism in Pakistan?

Ex-Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Post Cold War Line-up: Pakistan-Russia-China vs India-Japan-US

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat Blames Advani For Agra Summit Failure

Pakistan ISI: Afghanistan's Bogeyman

Trump's Anti-Pakistan Rhetoric

Counter-insurgencyOperation ZarbeAzb

India's Abiding Hostility Toward Pakistan 

India's Israel Envy: Will Modi Attack Pakistan?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
India has territorial disputes with:

- Pakistan
- China
- Myanmar
- Bangladesh
- Nepal

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/954760444941651969
Riaz Haq said…
#India Folds Under #Trump's Pressure, Halts #Iranian #Oil Imports | India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ imports of Iranian oil from November 2018 https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/India-Folds-Under-Pressure-Halts-Iranian-Oil-Imports.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tw_repost … #oilprice

In more dour news for Iran, India (the world’s fourth largest oil importer) is planning to cut oil imports from the embattled OPEC member. India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ imports of Iranian oil from November, Reuters said on Thursday, citing two industry sources.

The news comes as Tehran remains defiant over impending U.S. sanctions renewal and just days after India indicated it would push back against pressure from Washington to halt Iranian oil imports, stating that it did not recognize sanctions the U.S. has threatened to impose on countries that continue to buy Iranian oil after November 4.

"India does not recognize unilateral sanctions, but only sanctions by the United Nations," Sunjay Sudhir, joint secretary for international cooperation at India's petroleum ministry, told CNN earlier when asked whether India would reduce oil imports from Iran. After China, India is the largest buyer of Iranian crude oil.

President Trump said on Tuesday that the U.S. would level sanctions on countries that not did not cut Iranian oil imports.

Though India made an initial defiant stand, it simply can’t afford to alienate Washington since it has to safeguard its exposure to the U.S. financial system, a powerful tool that the U.S. can wield as it pleases since the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. This allows Washington to level crippling sanctions on a wide range of countries all the way from Russia to Venezuela to Iran and anybody else that any sitting U.S. president sees fit to punish.

This economic weapon is also why Beijing is working feverishly to supplement or replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. In September, John Hardy, the head of FX strategy at Saxo Bank said China was “eyeing the benefits of having its own currency play a larger role and to supplant the USD's role in global trade. The initial focus is on the global oil trade, where it has announced the intention of buying oil in yuan and allowing trade partners to settle that yuan in gold." He added that settling in gold is a clever move by Beijing as it provides oil-exporting countries with a greater degree of comfort.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s foreign policy is up a creek without a paddle, especially in its #SouthAsia neighborhood due to reckless adventurism. #Modi has abandoned non-aligned movement and antagonized #China and #Russia in its pursuit of alliance with #America, #Trump.

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/is-indias-foreign-policy-adrift/article24343945.ece

The BJP government’s denseness has ended up antagonising both Russia and China. Nothing typified this more than Russia holding antiterror exercises with Pakistan in DRUZBA-2017. Similarly, rather than taking a nuanced position, the ill-conceived boycott of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017 invited the wrath of China via the Doklam standoff. Notwithstanding government claims, the withdrawal from Doklam was sequential — India first, then China — rather than simultaneous. The sequel was that the Prime Minister had to travel to Wuhan and Sochi to effectively pay ‘court’ to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively.

The worst casualty has, however, been India’s neighbourhood. In the past four years, the BJP government has swung from the sublime to the ridiculous on Pakistan, blockaded Nepal for not declaring itself as a Hindu Rashtra, lost Sri Lanka to the Chinese, been belittled by the Maldives and even Seychelles. Europe, Africa, Latin and South America have fallen off the map.

The list is interminable. The BJP government’s denseness has ended up antagonising both Russia and China. Nothing typified this more than Russia holding antiterror exercises with Pakistan in DRUZBA-2017. Similarly, rather than taking a nuanced position, the ill-conceived boycott of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017 invited the wrath of China via the Doklam standoff. Notwithstanding government claims, the withdrawal from Doklam was sequential — India first, then China — rather than simultaneous. The sequel was that the Prime Minister had to travel to Wuhan and Sochi to effectively pay ‘court’ to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively.

The worst casualty has, however, been India’s neighbourhood. In the past four years, the BJP government has swung from the sublime to the ridiculous on Pakistan, blockaded Nepal for not declaring itself as a Hindu Rashtra, lost Sri Lanka to the Chinese, been belittled by the Maldives and even Seychelles. Europe, Africa, Latin and South America have fallen off the map.

The list is interminable. India’s foreign policy is up a creek without a paddle.

Riaz Haq said…
Here's Michael Lewis, author of "The Fifth Risk" on a potential threat that could destroy US credit and its economy:

"Assuming Donald Trump remains president for a while, I think there's at least the possibility of the risk that he will try to default on the American debt selectively. Like, he'll say, the Chinese are trying to sell their treasury bonds, and it's causing disruption in the treasury bond market; they stole all that money in the first place from us; we're not going to pay the Chinese back."


https://www.npr.org/2018/10/02/653607732/michael-lewis-trumps-approach-to-government-shows-neglect-and-misunderstanding

Michael Lewis, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Explain what "The Fifth Risk" is.

MICHAEL LEWIS: Short answer is it's the risk that you fail to imagine. It's while you're worried about what you're worried about, it's the thing that's actually going to come and kill you. And the longer answer is, when I'm working on this book about the federal government under Trump, I come to see the federal government as really a portfolio of risks that are being managed.

And as I'm wandering around the federal government trying to figure out what these risks are, over and over again when I'm asking people in the Energy Department or the Agriculture Department or even the White House to name kind of the top risks on the tip of their minds, they all come up with kind of three or four, and then they can't think of the fifth. So I thought that's the moment where the mind fails to imagine what it needs to imagine.

GROSS: Since your book is about the federal government under Trump, focusing on the energy, agriculture and commerce departments, why did you name it "The Fifth Risk" now that you've explained with "The Fifth Risk" means?

LEWIS: Well, it was a response to what I'd found about how the Trump administration had gone about taking over the federal government. What kind of lights a fire under me is when I discovered that the Obama administration had spent the better part of a year and thousands of people's lives preparing essentially the best course that had ever been created in how to run the federal government or what was going on inside the federal government and that this course was meant to be delivered to whoever won the election the day after the election - starting the day after the election.

And they were expecting hundreds of people to roll in to receive these briefings, and nobody showed up. Nobody - in many cases, when I go get these briefings, I'm the first person to have got them. And I thought, well, this enterprise that's managing all these risks it imagines but we as a society don't spend much time thinking about. It's being neglected, ignored and is operating on the basis of ignorance. So I thought, what happens when you do that across a big portfolio of risks like the federal government runs? And what happens is you amplify the risks. You increase the probability of these risks actually causing problems.

GROSS: So you write about three different departments - energy, agriculture and commerce. In all three or at least in two of the three, data has been removed, and the public can no longer access it. Can you give us some examples across the agencies of data that's been removed?

LEWIS: Yeah, so this is a theme. You know, trying to - wants to tease out some of the themes of the Trump administration. And one of the themes is it's going dark, or it's got a very loose or sometimes hostile attitude towards the data the government is supposed to collect and make available. Just a couple of the examples - in all three agencies, anything having to do with climate was removed. And then in several cases, it was kind of odd removal of data.

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