The US has declassified a confidential report highlighting the importance of India in the Indo-Pacific and how Washington plans to decimate China in the region amid the South China Sea tussle.
After the signing of BECA between India and the US, the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump has clearly laid the foundation for the upcoming tasks to be undertaken by his successor Joseph Biden, which is primarily to force China into submission, potentially with the Indian support.
A 10-page report prepared by Robert C O’Brien, Assistant to the President, for US National Security Affairs, on January 5, 2021, shows how the US plans to decimate China in the Indo-Pacific amid the continued tussle in the South China Sea from the recent past.
Robert C O’Brien has lauded India and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for the US interests. The report says,
“The United States is and always has been an Indo-Pacific nation. From our first trading ships that departed for China just eight years after the American Revolution, to establishing our first diplomatic presence in India in 1794, US engagement in the region has been built on trade, cooperation, and shared sacrifice, yielding peace and prosperity enjoyed across the region today.
The United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific has served, for the last three years, as the Trump Administration’s overarching strategic guidance for implementing the President’s 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) within the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.
“The NSS recognizes that the most consequential challenge to the interests of the United States, and those of our allies and partners (read India), is the growing rivalry between free and repressive visions (read China) of the future. To realize America’s positive vision for the region, and to address the unprecedented challenges that Indo-Pacific nations face to their sovereignty, prosperity, and peace, in February 2018, President Trump approved the Framework for implementation across executive branch departments and agencies.
The original document has been declassified and released, to communicate to the American people and to our allies and partners America’s enduring commitment to this vital region.”
This highly confidential report has now been released to the public, and perhaps, it proves clearly that the Kashmir imbroglio, towards which India is looking eye-to-eye for a joint war from China and Pakistan, had been well crafted for the US interests.
Before August 5, 2019, when Indian PM Narendra Modi scrapped Article 370, withdrawing special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, Trump had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan twice.
And later when India had lost 20 of its soldiers fighting China, he had again made the same offer, before India was assimilated into BECA, and hence, thereby becoming its military ally probably for the next 50 years.
With India now settled as a willing partner in the overall US game plan against China, Trump has declared as to how the former is to be utilized towards ‘specific issues of importance for the Indo-Pacific and beyond’, which would fulfill the prospects of “US Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. Strategic Framework for Countering China’s Economic Aggression, the U.S. Campaign Plan for Countering China’s Malign Influence in International Organizations, and others.”
Robert C O’Brien highlights how the US will try to foment sovereignty (read Taiwan) as he calls “Beijing (to be) increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party. The US approach is different. We seek to ensure that our allies and partners – all who share the values and aspirations of a free and open Indo-Pacific – can preserve and protect their sovereignty.”
He later makes it clear that the “United States has a long history of fighting back against repressive regimes on behalf of those who value freedom and openness.
As the world’s largest economy, with the strongest military and a vibrant democracy, it is incumbent on the United States to lead from the front”.
Therefore, the coming years will see the US supporting its partners’ ‘complementary approaches to regional engagement’ that include Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, Australia’s Indo-Pacific concept, and India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
This is precisely what QUAD is. All these initiatives were quite long on the cards to counter China, and even Russia, which has called out India’s motives. Very soon, QUAD is to enlarge its presence and align with its allies’ similar strategies, such as the “the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy, Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.”
Many of these concepts and approaches are resonating globally, with countries such as France and Germany publishing their own policy frameworks for the Indo-Pacific.
The confidential report still has certain parts blackened-out and on its Page 5 it specifically focuses on India and South Asia and defines its objective to “accelerate India’s rise and capacity to serve as a net provider of security and Major Defense Partners; solidity an enduring strategic partnership with India underpinned by a strong Indian military able to effectively collaborate with the United States and our partners in the region to address shared interests”.
It calls for actions to “build a stronger foundation for defense cooperation and interoperability; expand our defense trade and ability to transfer defense technology to enhance India’s status as a Major Defense Partners; increase our cooperation on shared regional security concerns and encourage India’s engagement beyond the Indian Ocean Region; support India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and work with India towards domestic economic reform and an increased Leadership role in the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ADMM.”
The report even mentions the “Offer of support to India – through diplomatic military, and intelligence channels – to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China and access to water, including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion to China.”
It says the US could extend support to “India’s Act East’ policy and its aspiration to be a leading global power, highlighting and its compatibility with the U.S, Japanese, and Australian vision of a free and open Indo-Specific”.
It also calls for building regional support for US-India Common Principles in the Indian Ocean, including unimpeded commerce, transparent infrastructure – debt practices, and peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.
The report doesn’t shy away from advocating for “partnering with India on cyber and space security and maritime domain awareness, expanding US-India intelligence sharing and analytic exchanges, creating a more robust intelligence partnership.”
The report puts its objective again which is to “strengthen the capacity of emerging partners in South Asia, including the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, to contribute to a free and open order.
It also calls for supporting the creation of a maritime information fusion center” in the Indian Ocean, establishing a regional forum to promote common principles and standards.
How China confronts this joint US game plan with Russia’s help will be interesting to see, and the policy would be the major challenge for Joseph Biden to undertake.