29 November 2016

The Re-Alignment of India

India's geopolitical shift involves a complicated dance in order to maintain a network of relationships. On the one hand India has moved toward a military alliance with the United States and the establishment of closer economic ties with the West. At the same time India is still entangled in historic alliances with Russia which involve joint military projects as well as a commitment to BRICS, the international banking order meant to counter and check the dominance of Western organisations such as the World Bank and IMF.

BRICS was launched in 2009-10, as a joint economic venture on the part of the ascendant (one might say 2nd tier) economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In many respects China is certainly not 2nd tier, but at the same time Beijing is not fully integrated into the globally dominant Western system. BRICS was viewed as an opportunity for these nations to exert power and influence and by working jointly to escape Western domination.

That said, the goals and aspirations of these nations do not always coincide.

BRICS is by no means defunct and it would seem there is a commitment on the part of all factions to keep it afloat. Nevertheless Brazil's economic downturn, India's overt move toward a US alliance, China's internal troubles and growing tensions with India etc... have put the BRICS vision into jeopardy.

Since the Cold War, India has often (in a Non-Aligned capacity) tended to look toward Russia as an ally and a source of weapons and technology. Almost the only basis of strategic friendship with the United States was India's harbouring of the Dalai Lama in the late 1950's a period in which their mutual enmity with China brought New Delhi and Washington together. The Tibet paramilitary projects of the CIA were aided and facilitated by India but the alliance was weak and didn't last.

The West's alliance with Pakistan and as of the 1970s with China drove India further into the arms of Moscow. But the collapse of the USSR began to change this and the US move against China in recent years has driven New Delhi and Washington back together and it would now seem under Narendra Modi's embrace of Western style Capitalism and investment, the alliance is in the process of fortification.

Hence it is no surprise to read of growing tensions and frustrations between New Delhi and Moscow. Joint military projects are now in jeopardy. Those that are being completed have been significantly reduced in scale and scope. The friendship has by no means ended and India continues to purchase systems from Moscow, but it's clear the relationship has been downgraded.

There are reasons for India to maintain these tenuous ties. New Delhi knows it would be an error to rely too heavily on US armaments and thus enslave its military to US logistical controls and bureaucratic governance.  India will purchase weapons from the United States but they will also look to nations like France and Israel. This diversity is strategic as India doesn't want to become completely dependent on the United States. The Ayatollah Khomeini's regime had to deal with that reality, a leftover consequence of the Shah's policies during the 1980s war with Iraq.

In addition, a limited utilisation of Russian hardware might even be encouraged by Deep State elements within the United States. They afford opportunities for espionage and possible doorways (via Indian assets) into the Russian military apparatus.

What of India's commitment to BRICS? Will Washington demand New Delhi's withdrawal? Not necessarily and for many of the same reasons it might be in New Delhi's interest to maintain the relationship.

Membership in BRICS will afford autonomy and again Deep State elements in both Washington and New Delhi may wish for not only opportunities for espionage but sabotage.

Nevertheless it must be assumed that on Wall Street, a weak BRICS is to be preferred and that certainly seems to be the case at present.

These are stories to watch and consider as they will serves as indicators or bellwethers of geopolitical faultlines, shifts and potential conflicts.

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