August 21, 2022

Burgeoning Strategic Ties with the United States

THE Modi government is deepening strategic ties with the United States on all fronts.  Three events which took place in the last few weeks highlight this growing proximity to the geopolitical designs of the United States. 

India has joined a new grouping called the I2U2 in West Asia which consists of four countries – Israel and India (I2), the United States and  United Arab Emirates (U2).  Why India has done so is unfathomable, except to facilitate president Biden’s desperate attempts to assert US influence in the region. 

Biden is attempting to create an anti-Iran alliance in West Asia and reverse the weakening US hegemony in the region in the face of growing economic and political challenges from China and Russia.  Earlier, the Abraham Accords were initiated by President Trump to get Israel recognised by Arab states such as the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. 

The I2U2 virtual summit was held on July 14, 2022, during president Biden’s tour to West Asia.  Why should India join such an anti-Iran grouping and why it should endorse the Israel-Arab States' rapprochement, which would bury the Palestinian cause, is something which the government cannot satisfactorily answer. 

If India has to strengthen its relations with the UAE, it can do so on a bilateral track and could have got the investment for the integrated food parks, which have been promised by the UAE through the I2U2 forum.   The only reason India has joined this possible West Asia Quad is to buttress its strategic alliance with the US.

Soon after the I2U2 summit, India joined the US-led Combined Maritime Force based in Bahrain as an associate member.  This is a counter-terrorism grouping aimed at protecting international waters which has been created with the United States Naval Forces Central Command leading the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The 35-country maritime grouping consists mainly of allies of the United States including some of its NATO partners like France, Germany and the Netherlands. 

If the four-nation grouping of the Quad comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India has been formed for the Indo-Pacific region, efforts are being made by the United States to group its allies in West Asia and India has agreed to be a willing partner. 

The third event which has happened recently is the arrival of the first US navy ship for repairs at the Larsen & Toubro shipyard at Kattupalli near Chennai.  This follows a decision taken at the US-India 2+2 ministerial meeting that ships of the US Maritime Sealift Command could use Indian shipyards for the upkeep and repair of its naval ships in mid-voyage.  The US naval ship `Charles Drew’ is the first US ship to undergo repairs in an Indian shipyard.  This is the logical outcome of the logistic supply agreement signed between the US and India called the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). Under this agreement, US air force and naval ships could use Indian air bases and ports for re-fuelling, repair and maintenance.  Referring to the repair of the US ship, the vice chief of naval staff, S N Ghormade, stated that, it “shows the kind of mutual trust and also consolidates our role as a major defence partner of the US.”

The growing military cooperation, which is at the centre of the strategic alliance, was formalised by the Manmohan Singh government when it signed the Defence Framework Agreement with the United States in June 2005.  The framework provided for agreements like the logistic supply agreement.  The Modi government has gone forward to sign the so-called three foundational agreements which will be the basis for the interlocking and interoperability of the two armed forces.

Whether it is the Quad, the posting of liaison officers at the US Central and Indo-Pacific commands, or the expanding defence purchases from the US, India is on the way to becoming a military ally of the United States.  That this is being undertaken by a BJP regime shows the close ideological and political proximity of the Hindutva right-wing forces with US imperialism.

(August 17, 2022)