Doklam
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Enayat Zeb |

Ever since the beginning of the Doklam stand-off between China and India, one country has been conspicuously quiet: The United States of America. Too quiet, some would say. There might be several reasons and intentions, both positive and/or otherwise, but one thing is absolutely clear: The US will benefit from a conflict between China and India, be it a limited operation or a full blown out war.

The US silence could be an indication of the direction that the US would like this standoff to take. The military, the diplomatic and economic impact of such a conflict will be to the advantage of US, regardless of the devastating effect it will have on India. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages that the US can draw out of such a conflict.

With China constantly sounding warnings to India asking for the removal of its troops from Chinese territory, and India constantly refusing to budge down

The US has been at war, in one form or another, for the most part of modern history. There doesn’t seem to be a time or region where the US is not engaged militarily. This widespread and continuous usage of US military has given numerous opportunities to its adversaries to gather intelligence, gauge and ascertain the performance parameters and combat capabilities of the gargantuan US military and the equipment that it uses.

Read more: Where Doklam traverses regional politics

Russia and China, among others, are expected to have carefully examined the military engagements of the US (and its allies) throughout the world and prepared their own military capabilities on those lines. China, however, has hardly been engaged in any major conflict involving the use of its own mammoth military.

It is no secret that the US will hugely benefit from degraded Chinese military capabilities due to a protracted war between China and India

The world, including the US, is yet to see the true capabilities of a much modernized Chinese military. Of course, it would be absurd to think that the US would not have used its huge intelligence gathering network to estimate the capabilities of the Chinese military, but a conflict between China and India will give the US a unique opportunity to validate their intelligence estimates regarding true capabilities of Chinese military with facts on the ground.

Although the Indian military is in no way a match for the Chinese military, it still is a “worthy enough” adversary, defeating whom won’t be a walk in the park. Without a doubt, the Chinese military would win in a one-on-one fight, but not without a potentially tough fight from India.

Read more: Doklam is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

Of guns and money

This “tough fight” will benefit the US with arms exports too. As the war progresses, India will be in need of more arms & ammunition, and the US State department and Military Industrial Complex will step in to fill the gaps and claim the blank cheques from a desperate India fighting for its survival or honor, whichever comes first.

Russian/Soviet origin, and it would be interesting to see how India will respond to such a situation, that too in the middle of a military conflict

Indian establishment or US could also take this opportunity to modify the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) to cover broader and deeper aspects of US-India military-to-military engagements, or sign similar agreements such as Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), that India was previously reluctant to sign, yet again benefiting the US.

Interestingly, Russia might not be as “available” to India as before, not least because of Sino-Russian relations, but also due to the Indian “bear hugs” with the US in recent years (pun intended). Russia will find China to be a better market for its arms than India, both in economic and diplomatic terms.

Read more: India’s China war circa 2017?

In fact, Russia doesn’t necessarily have to decline to give a helping hand to India at a time when it needs it the most, but resistance from certain circles within Indian establishment coupled with constantly tightening US sanctions against Russia could restrict India’s options with regards to Russia.

The world, including the US, is yet to see the true capabilities of a much modernized Chinese military

Indian military depends heavily on arms and ammunition of Russian/Soviet origin, and it would be interesting to see how India will respond to such a situation, that too in the middle of a military conflict.

Additionally, it is no secret that the US will hugely benefit from degraded Chinese military capabilities due to a protracted war between China and India. There are several “hot spots” of potential conflict rising up between the US and China e.g North Korea, South China Sea, Cyber space etc., where the US sees China as a direct threat.

An engaged and potentially degraded Chinese military would most certainly be to the advantage of the US, which can then dictate the terms of engagement with China either on the military, diplomatic or economic front, or a combination of all three.

Read more: Chinese and Indian troops face off in Bhutan border dispute

The US has been at war, in one form or another, for the most part of modern history. There doesn’t seem to be a time or region where the US is not engaged militarily

While Chinese military is engaged in a conflict with India, the US could potentially take bolder steps in the South China Sea or North Korea, hence restricting China’s room to maneuver and exerting pressure on an already strained Chinese military. Although Mainland China might not be under threat from a direct US military intervention, its sphere of influence in the region could potentially be at risk in such a scenario.

With China constantly sounding warnings to India asking for the removal of its troops from Chinese territory, and India constantly refusing to budge down, the silence of the US in these circumstances is curious and ominous. If one were to be liberal with imagination, it won’t be too bold to fathom that the US would like India to engage China in a military conflict, with secret promises of US blessings and backing. This might explain the Indian stubbornness and US silence with regards to the Doklam issue.

Enayat Zeb is an Engineer by education with a deep interest in current affairs revolving around South Asia with a special interest in conflicts and military technology. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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