Recent high-level diplomacy between India with the United States and Israel reveals the extent of a changing balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
Indian diplomacy, in general, has therefore focused upon Western attempts to buttress the country with huge armaments sales in preparation for possible hostilities with China.
The rise of China has effectively countered US hegemonic positions: the traditional western position is beginning to crumble, their leaders and cronies have entered a state of panic.
One specific example of Chinese endeavour and the manner in which the West has responded reveals a heightening of diplomatic tensions across the Asia-Pacific region together with the likely outcome.
In late June, far-right Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited Washington to meet President Donald Trump. The high-level diplomacy was, in reality, a formality. A following visit by Modi to Israel less than a fortnight later, was, however, closely linked to US sponsored diplomatic initiatives.
Modi arrived in Israel in what was described as 'a ground-breaking first visit by an Indian PM with growing ties between the countries including billions of dollars in defence deals'. (1) An official media release about the Indian-Israeli diplomacy stated 'India is the world's biggest importer of defence equipment and Israel has become one of its major suppliers'. (2)
Many of the specific items of military technology remain hidden although those publicised include more than usual defence and security provision and form part of planning to modernise the Indian armed forces by 2025. (3) They are preparing for combat positions. Israel also has a huge defence sector as part of its national economy, much of which is based in high-tech military equipment. It is therefore no surprise that part of the Israel-India arms deals include 'satellite technology' and 'communications technology'. (4)
Military links between the two countries have also extended to the highest level of intelligence with what has been described as long-standing co-operation with 'counter-terrorism and exchanging information'. (5)
Behind the scenes of the military expenditure bean-feast, however, lie far deeper causes for the flood of money for weaponry to pursue aggressive diplomatic initiatives.
The rise of China has effectively changed the balance of forces in the wider Asia-Pacific region: traditional western hegemonic positions have been challenged. Countries associated with US-backed diplomatic positions have therefore concentrated their efforts upon India to become a buttress against China. India is about the only country with similar economic potential, while others flounder and have often been drawn into Chinese spheres of influence.
The emerging situation has been exacerbated by two developments: the Trump administration which has pursued a strange and contradictory approach to foreign affairs raising questions about its competence; and the success of Chinese diplomacy and their longer-term planning when dealing with countries of interest which include the Russian Federation.
In 2001, China became involved with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which had a focus upon 'economic ties between the nations and serves as a counter to American hegemony in Central Asia'. (6) Later, in October 2007, the SCO then led by China, 'signed an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)' which was headed by the Russian Federation. (7) A decade later the combined diplomatic entity of China and the Russian Federation has equalled the power of the US. And with it, the combined diplomatic entity has extended its influence over a vast area.
Within the Asia-Pacific region the altering balance of forces can be observed by countries such as the Philippines, traditionally very closely associated with US diplomatic positions. The present Duterte administration is now, however, openly pursing closer links with China and the Russian Federation.
In the wider area, Iran has been brought into the spheres of influence: traditionally possessing strong links with Russia, over a decade ago China also developed strong diplomatic contact with Iran. By 2004, China became the largest oil export market for Iran. It has also financed huge infrastructure projects through more than a hundred Chinese state organisations based in Iran. (8)
A recent announcement China Petroleum was entering into a partnership with Iran Petropars to develop the South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, thought to be one of the largest in the world, is further evidence of Chinese influence in the wider region. (9) How the development fits into a bigger picture of the present diplomatic rift between Qatar and other US-backed Sunni countries in the Middle East has yet to be established given Qatar made recent favourable diplomatic initiatives to strengthen links with Iran. It is likely, however, to be highly relevant given an official diplomatic statement from Qatar noted they intended to boost natural gas exports to become the 'world's biggest LNG exporter'. (10)
It is also significant to note recent diplomatic initiatives between the Russian Federation and Qatar which have included the signing of a military cooperation agreement in September, 2016, and investment in the energy sector. References have already been made about Russian involvement in natural gas-fields. (11)
The fact Iran is the centre of Shia Islam has provided the combined diplomatic entity of China and the Russian Federation with considerable influence with Muslims throughout the world, a position regarded as untenable with Israel.
It is, however, the role of China planning and beginning their massive One Belt, One Road infrastructure program has thrown US imperialist and other Western defence and security systems into panic mode. The program will assist with the economic development of China and those countries linked into the plan, some of which have strong allegiance with Islam such as Afghanistan. No wonder NATO have recently decided to boost their so-called 'Afghanistan commitment' following a directive from 'NATO commanders to provide about 3,000 troops'. (12) They have no wish to see the country fall from their grasp and the present Western circle of influence.
It is also significant to note a recent strengthening of diplomatic links between China and Syria, with plans to create a 'Syrian hub' in the One Belt, One Road program. (13) Likewise, no wonder NATO continue to offer support and arms for jihadists to destabilise the country and topple the Assad administration. The recent US bombing of Russian Federation military facilities, which was planned to damage infrastructure, might also be seen in this context. It had nothing to do with chemical weapons. (14)
Just one example of western behaviour toward the program, however, is worthy of considerable scrutiny to throw further light upon the relentless nature of Western attempts to encircle and contain China as a provocative military strategy.
In late June, coinciding with Modi visiting the US, an official media release from New Delhi announced India was beginning 'a new Asian space race' which was intended to tighten 'control of regional skies and alliances by leveraging its ability to send satellites into orbit'. (15) The statement also included information about India activating a global positioning system next year which it had 'offered to share with its neighbours', one of which was clarified as Afghanistan. (16)
The position of India within Western-based regional defence and security provision was clearly defined in the media release. It acknowledged, for example, while 'most of India's recent space diplomacy has been a rearguard action against China', the planning was intended for steering counties in the region 'away from Beijing's influence' and 'at stake in its contest is regional leadership'. (17)
The recent period has been marked by western diplomacy becoming more aggressive toward China. It is not difficult to establish the real nature of diplomatic behaviour. China has already complained that recent Indian diplomacy and provision of satellite ground stations in Brunei, Indonesia and Mauritius were intended for 'military purposes to monitor the South China Seas'. (18)
A further example of a more aggressive Western diplomatic stance in the region can also be seen with an announcement Indian-based Astrome Technologies plan to launch 150 satellites to provide coverage of areas including Bangladesh and the Indonesian archipelago. (19) The diplomatic statement 'given US-Israel friendship, working with Israel fits into Modi's plan to strengthen New Delhi's relations with the US', can also be clearly established from other defence and security considerations. (20)
Using a standard Peters Projection actual-size world map the arc from US military facilities based on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has a radius to other sensitive facilities in India, Bangladesh and Pine Gap in Central Australia which, in turn, reveals the nature of recent Indian diplomacy with the US and Israel. The fact the radius also encompasses a multitude of shipping-lanes in the wider region together with the Middle East and Persian Gulf is no coincidence. (21)
Just what proportion of the massive US $40 billion space budget is now being allocated for use with India and its large satellite program has yet to be established. Recent India diplomacy with the US and Israel would tend to indicate the allocation is considerable. And the space budget is not intended for usual internet access purposes, but war.
1. Defence deals unite Modi, Bibi, Australian, 6 July 2017.
3. Israel making waves in the Indian-Pacific, The Weekend Australian, 8-9 July 2017.
4. Ibid., and Australian, op.cit., 6 July 2017.
5. Weekend Australian, op.cit., 8-9 July 2017.
6. A New World War for a New World Order, Andrew Gavin Marshall, Nexus Magazine, February-March 2010, page 27.
9. Total's $1.3 bn kicks off Iran play, Australian, 4 July 2017.
10. We will be leader in LNG, says Qatar, Australian, 5 July 2017.
11. Russia and Qatar, Bulgaria Analytica, 12 July 2017.
12. NATO boosts Afghanistan commitment, Australian, 12 July 2017.
13. New Silk Road, Information Clearing House, 14 July 2017.
14. Trump ignored intel, 25 June 2017,
Website - http://www.rt.com/usa/393993 – trump – intel - syria - tomahawk – chemical/
Website - http://www.rt.com/usa/393993 – trump – intel - syria - tomahawk – chemical/
15. India takes on China in Asian space race, Australian, 30 June 2017.
18. China State Media, quoted, Ibid.
20. The Weekend Australian, op.cit., 8-9 July 2017.
21. Sites go silent as base gets supplies, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2001, which provides a detailed list of the range of the Diego Garcia facilities together with their links to Australia and other US military bases in Japan and Singapore.