Changing environment

Security Apparatus

Indo china

Professor A F K Organski, a distinguished scholar from Michigan University, postulated the Power Transition Theory in 1958. He postulated that equitable distribution of resources among the contending states increases the probability of war. The wars between Rome and Carthage, the Dutch and the Spaniards, the British and the French, and the two World Wars stand testimony to Organski’s theory.

The aftermath of World War II witnessed the rise of the Nato and Warsaw alliances leading to the Cold War between the US and the erstwhile USSR. The development of nuclear weapons and the subsequent arrival of the non-state actors changed the outlook of global security.

The Americans and the Soviets fought numerous wars, far away from their own soil, to maintain hegemony in resources. The changing dynamics have led to a fresh debate on the relevance of the Power Transition Theory.

The contours of the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s and other wars post World War II reveal that the global security dynamics of the 21st Century are majorly a function of the “economic power and leveraging of resources”.

The military power and the political/diplomatic power play are its sub-sets. Prior to World War II, the United Kingdom was the leading power with a strong military might and a vast political/diplomatic projection built on colonial resources. Post World War II, the leadership moved into the hands of the US.

By the 1950s, the US economy jumped from sub-trillion economies of the 1930s to over $ 2 trillion with a growth trajectory of 4% to 8%. It gave the US leverage to build its military might, project political/diplomatic influence through the Soft Power application in rebuilding Europe, Japan and gain control over energy-rich West Asia.

Post the Vietnam War, stagflation coupled with rising unemployment of over 6-7% posed a serious threat to the US economy. Its withdrawal from Vietnam, seen as a strategic victory for the USSR, added to its woes. Armed with the twin aims of getting its economy back on track and setting up China against the Soviets, the US extended an olive branch to China. The 1971 secret visit of Henry Kissinger, followed by President Nixon’s visit of 1972 was a step in that direction.

The Chinese leadership welcomed the US, as it needed investment and technology to propel its economy. From a sub-hundred million dollar economy of 1971, currently, China’s GDP is pegged at $ 12.2 trillion with a growth rate of 6.9%. It is expected to overtake the US economy by 2032.

Resolution of the long-pending boundary dispute between China, Russia and the breakaway states of USSR under the 1991 Sino-Soviet agreement was a strategic masterstroke. It gave China access to the Russian military hardware technology, providing a jump start to its arms industry. Now with its overarching economy, China is in an expansionist mode. It now stands with Russia, Iran and Pakistan - posing a serious challenge to the US and the Western nations.

The 99 years lease of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the recent developments in Mauritius are a part of the Chinese Policy of Economic Subjugation through the application of Soft Power. China’s Africa Development Fund, solely financed by the Chinese Government Policy Bank, is designed to finance infrastructure projects in Africa. The Chinese companies retain a direct lien on these projects for future takeover. China appears to have taken a leaf from the East India Company of British era for economic colonisation.

With the ongoing conflict in Syria, the developments in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, Russia and China are acting like two flanks pushing back the US and its allies. In between lies India, the largest democracy in the world and a fast growing economy, posing a challenge to the Chinese aggressive expansion plans.

The frequent Chinese intrusions into Indian territory, unconditional support to Pakistan, claim over Arunachal Pradesh and its attempt to occupy the Doklam Ridge are the tools to keep India at bay. The growing Chinese influence on Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh coupled with its policy of economic subjugation has compounded the global security scenario with added complexities for India. Antagonism between India and China is bound to hurt both.

Will the meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping help to get Beijing back off from its India hard-line policy? Only time will tell!

Upgrade defence equipment

To deter China from any misadventure, there is a need to strengthen our defence forces with state of the art equipment. The statement of the vice chief of the Indian Army on the inadequacy of the defence budget for new acquisitions needs to be viewed seriously when the two front wars are threatening national security.

The three services — the army, navy and the air force — are burdened with obsolete equipment. Besides, there are serious voids in equipment that need to be filled with speed and vigour. Our defence forces are well trained and possess tremendous fighting capabilities but they need modern equipment to defend our frontiers and impose a serious penalty on any aggressor. This has been neglected far too long.

Defence projections, procurement and manufacturing require advance planning and optimisation of financial allocations. The formation of the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) under the national security advisor, incorporating the three services chiefs, to prepare a roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem, priority capability and boost defence export appears a step in the right direction.

How different is the DPC from the Defence Acquisition Council of 2001 is to be seen. As a nation, we have become used to accepting sub-standard planning, projections and execution, especially when the defence ministers are changed at the drop of a hat. Ordinance Factories and Defence Research and Development Organisation continue to function inefficiently. Can DPC address this malaise?

(The writer is a New Delhi-based strategy and security analyst)

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Changing environment

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