Big-power military blocs appear to be back on the table in Asia. In a vast geographical exercise held with surprisingly little publicity earlier this month, the navies of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India took to the Bay of Bengal for war games stretching from Andhra Pradesh to the Andaman Islands. The first security exercise by the “Quadrilateral initiative,” as the group is known, it also included a small contingent from Singapore. It involved two US carriers, the Kitty Hawk and the Nimitz, plus 25 other surface ships and submarines.An explanation of the map here. Sea lines of communication...
This display of floating iron, one of the biggest exercises of its kind ever, is notable because it came just after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), comprised of China, Russia, and four Central Asian countries, held its group summit and military exercises. It remains to be seen if the SCO will become more than a symbolic talking shop, but it seems to have energized India into becoming involved in a way the previous Congress governments would have abhorred. In the past, they saw the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, particularly nuclear neutrality. Today, ships like the Nimitz, which are assumed to carry nuclear weapons as a matter of routine, are allowed to berth in Indian ports.
And, whatever the claims to the contrary, it is clear that the Quad initiative, as it has come to be called, was formed with the express aim of countering the Shanghai bloc, and in particular containing China. Defense papers published independently by all four countries have recently listed China as a potential “military threat.”
Landing the Big One
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Thoughts on the recent joint war games with India, the U.S., Australia and Japan and those of Russia, China and their Shanghai Cooperation Organization at Strategic Chess: