India and the United States have recently initiated an onslaught of a series of bilateral defense agreements to demonstrate that the two countries are ready to contain China’s peaceful rise.
The pro-U.S. lobbies within the BJP government have raised China Bogey to bargain for strong defense ties between the U.S. and India. Modi government is raising China bogey to strengthen its leverage with the United States. New Delhi will never follow the hard journey of taking an aggressive posture against China for Washington’s benefit.
The invisible Chinese threat is portrayed by India essentially to acquire as much economic, diplomatic and military support from the United States as possible. The recent Indo-China agreement to disengage in Eastern Ladakh shows that New Delhi has no desire to shoot itself in the foot just for the sake of Washington’s pleasure.
The Indian narrative
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always downplayed the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Ladakh crisis by saying, “nobody has intruded into our border, neither is anybody there now nor have our posts been captured.”
Modi struggled to reply with tough talk to appease the domestic audience of nationalists and hardliners because he understands that his country is not in a position to stand against China.
During the standoff, BJP’s leadership projected the narrative that China has to show restraint because “it is no longer the India of 1962.” The same goes for Beijing, and the power gap has indeed increased between the two countries.
Today, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China has more than three times the overall military budget compared to India. Notwithstanding, the allocation of Chinese military and strategic resources is not designed to consider India as a primary threat.
But New Delhi is gradually building a narrative of Chinese military coercion and projecting internationally that India is in a position to take on China militarily, if adequately resourced and assisted by the U.S. and the West.
Exploitations by the US
In the wake of the Ladakh standoff, the U.S. saw the opportunity and approved a plan to withdraw American troops from bases in Europe to counter the Chinese threat to India and others.
The United States has long planned to use India as a pawn in its China containment strategy and has been using Indian nationalists and hardliners in the recent standoff. India has a misconception that the U.S. is trying to repel Chinese troops in the South China Sea and provide India with resources to fight across the disputed border.
The U.S. can only allocate limited resources with respect to Indo-China relations but Washington will continue to exploit deteriorating Indo-China ties.
Despite the obvious inferiority of Indian armed forces compared to Chinese military might, the Western think tanks are analyzing that India is militarily stronger than China and capable of winning the war in the Himalayas.
A report by Howard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has claimed that the Indian Army is likely to give a befitting reply to the Chinese troops.
If the report has analyzed factually then why the most prominent arms exporting countries are still selling sensitive military hardware to India under the pretext of China’s containment?
India’s ambitious military purchase
India has manipulated the recent scuffle with China for strategic gains. India’s Ministry of Defense has already signed a deal in July 2020 for the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to 59 others worth $2.4bn, using the excuse of rising tensions with China.
To significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force amid the Ladakh standoff, India recently received 14 Rafale jets from France. India is also purchasing an Israeli air defence system that can be deployed in Ladakh.
Interestingly, India has been continuously procuring military hardware when not a single bullet was fired, or weapons were used in Ladakh. Would India fight with China with Russian jets, Rafale, and Israeli air defense system?
A rational mind can infer that India is not in a position to confront China with these technologies in an all-out war. India’s ambition behind this shopping spree is to suppress smaller neighbors with its hegemonic military posture.
On the other hand, India has its future military ambitions to secure a status of superpower. The Hindutva government in India has a special interest to expand its nationalist policies to gain geopolitical influence in the Asia Pacific region.
The Indian interests are not aligned with the American narrative and the recent New Delhi’s strategic enlargement – i.e. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Anti-satellite weapon (ASAT), Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) and Thermonuclear weapon – is a threat to the U.S. and European countries.
India’s unilateral action to export Brahmos missile to Chinese adversaries could potentially coerce China to arm Iran and this scenario can create a threat for the U.S. navy in the Middle East.
Above all, India is not following the U.S. moral approach of preserving human rights in Kashmir. On the contrary, the U.S. is offering a free ride to India to expand its Hindutva political goals by targeting minorities, especially Muslims living inside India.
Will India indulge in direct conflict with China?
For years, the United States and its partners have been seeking to convince India to join hands in countering China. But India will never opt for such kind of cooperation against China to avoid a fresh arms race.
India has operationally deployed more than eighty percent of conventional/unconventional resources against Pakistan and it will avoid every circumstance which leads to a split of its military might on two borders.
The Indian government will always use a policy of appeasement against China while exhausting its military strength against Pakistan.
India cannot risk conflict with China because of the vast amount of trade ties and military asymmetry. India and the U.S. are unreliable allies that are bound together by the U.S.-led China containment.
If you remove China from this unnatural partnership, there leaves no reason for much-touted Indo-U.S. strategic relations.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.