Following the Quad’s meeting in Tokyo which saw the formal colonists US, Australia and Japan sitting with the good old colony, India, Western and Indian media went into overdrive against China. Indian media reminded the foreign ministers gathered in Tokyo to make it a proper military alliance. An interesting comparison of the Quad’s combined military potential vis a vis China was discussed on one of the major Indian media platforms, the WION, with loud voices; that it must morph into a military alliance.

Although no joint communique of the Quad came out, India and the US resorted to the stereotyped but tongue-in-cheek slur against China, with an emphasis on ‘rule-based international order’ and respecting the sovereignty of the nations. It is quite funny to hear these words from India and the US who have waged relentless wars against other nations in the past five decades.

Japanese media highlighted the contours of the Quad by praising Shinzo Abe and appreciating the new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Nikkei Asia magazine stated that “India and Japan signed an agreement on September 9, allowing them to share military supplies and logistical support. Japan had inked a similar deal with Australia in September 2017, and Canberra and New Delhi signed one this past June. The three countries are on the same wavelength. The US, intent on countering China, looks to build an Asian NATO with the Quad at its core.”

In a recent interview with Japanese Nikkei magazine, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage discussed the inclusion of other players in the Quad. He stated that Japan needs to strengthen cooperation with the US and other partners as it digs deeper into the push for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Earlier, Indian think tanks and RAW-backed outlets like ORF had hinted at a ‘Quad plus’. In an article published by ORF in May 2020, the writers stated that “there are some early hints of how international partnerships might be shaped by the COVID crisis. Recently, senior officials of the four ‘Quad’ countries (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) teleconferenced about how to respond to the pandemic. Quad meetings are no longer unusual. But this one was special because it included three additional Indo-Pacific powers: New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam. The call, reportedly initiated by the US Deputy Secretary of State Steve Beigun, was intended to exchange notes on how these powers were tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, with the purpose of targeting China.

We had conducted an analysis of the Indo-Pacific alliance in a previous article published in a Russian magazine. We are covering some extracts of that article as it has become more relevant in the backdrop of the Quad meeting held in Tokyo:

It may be interesting to dissect the talk by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov delivered at Raisina Dialogue in Delhi on January 15 2020, as it gives us some insight into how Russia views the shaping of the new global order.

Lavrov deliberated that the powers against the more democratic and multipolar world are trying to hamper the process of a more open and fair world. Our western friends use language like International Law less and less and have coined a new word ‘Rule-based world order’; this may be dangerous as you are imposing upon others, this makes it harder to deal with global issues of transnational nature, like terrorism, water security, food security, organised crime, bringing weapons to outer space and even weaponising cyber space. The gist of Lavarov’s talk and questions raised by him are posted below:

He highlighted that nations are trying to make this region unite and competitive. President Putin, during discourse on the Russia ASEAN summit, talked about the Grand Eurasian Space expanding right up to Indonesia and integrating Eurasian Economic Union, ASEAN and SCO and should include all countries in grand Eurasian space.

While deliberating on the Indo Pacific, Lavrov criticised the jargon of ‘rule-based world order’, propagated by the West. When we asked about the difference between the Asia-Pacific strategy and Indo Pacific, the answer is that ‘Indo Pacific is more open and more democratic’. It is actually an attempt to reconfigure existing structures in the Eurasian continent and move from ASEAN centred structure to a divisive one.

While replying to a question from the moderator on Indo Pacific, Lavrov candidly replied that the Indo Pacific was mainly meant to contain China and was definitely based on exclusion rather than inclusion.

If you play with the rules of International Law, which is governed by the United Nations, you are actually twisting the existing structures. These terminologies are not benign but substantive and are used to hijack sovereignty of nations and states through a subtle use.

More ironically, this so-called Indo Pacific Alliance is represented by Western dominated militaries with one addition of India. Technically, in a more subtle way, France and the UK are already poised to join the so-called Quad, and India may be slipping into this new trap of Neo Colonialism and working against the interest of the region.

The Chinese stance is also clear, China regards it as a new great game to create a rim-land around the emerging block of Eurasia and targets Russian and Chinese interests.

The Global Times of China came up with a strong statement castigating the US and India with the title, ‘All US’ bark and no bite in Quad meeting’. It stated that the US, which has signed military alliance treaties with Japan and Australia, now wants to rope India in to boost not only the alliance and to gang up on China. India has been buttering its bread on both sides of major power games ever since the Cold War.

Global times goes on to state that India is a country that tends to have higher confidence than its actual strength. Also, New Delhi wishes to become a superpower itself with strong nationalism in its public opinion. If the US wants to count India in its “Asia NATO,” it would need to persuade India to give up its Russia-made weapons and substantially invest to change the standards of Indian firearms to the standards of the US. Substantial amounts of money and work will also be needed to create a modern Indian command system.

To conclude, the Quad plus is gradually becoming an Asian NATO with the aim of denting the Eurasian brotherhood and fomenting strategic divisions and chaos in the rather calm atmosphere of Pacific and Indian oceans and their littoral states. The Indo Pacific is a red herring being sold by the West to make an exclusive bloc in the region and extend its sphere across the oceans.

India—part of major Eurasian and Non-Eurasian forums like SCO and BRICS—is riding two boats which are moving in the opposite direction. The Indian choice to prod Quad into an Asian NATO and forge a military alliance has set the stage where the Eurasian nations may have to think about alternatives, may be, without India.

Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar

The writers are freelance columnists based in Zimbabwe. Email: yalla_umar@yahoo.com