‘Pratham evam Dvitiya Vishwa Yudh’ used to be a chapter in our history books. In NDA we were taught finer details of military strategy used by warring nations to achieve victory during the two world wars. The most striking feature was the fact that both world wars were as a result of the desire of establishing regional and/or global supremacy by ‘WHITE SKINS’ only.
Asian and African nations were sucked into the melee because most nations were ruled by ‘WHITES’. Mention of Australia rarely featured except that it was used as a colony for rehabilitating ‘exceptional British citizens’, who were selected by the British judiciary.
Numerous causes viz militarism, ultra-nationalism and even assassination of prominent figures acted as a catalyst to ignite the war, however in case of both world wars a common denominator was formation of alliance/treaties between a group of nations aimed at opposing/containing influence of another nation/group of nations.
One of the most famous treaties was the Treaty of Versailles signed to end world war I in 1919. Many historians have opined that the treaty was not a peace treaty instead it was the root cause of the 2nd world war. Treaty imposed severe restrictions on Germany to the extent that Germans felt humiliated leading to birth of Nazi culture and rise of Hitler. Rest is history.
The 2nd world war ended due to the most inhuman act committed by the US in deciding to drop atom bombs over Japanese cities on 6th and 9th August, 1945. Most indiscreet military action in the history of mankind was resorted to by USA, then a component of allied power, to test the effects of ultimate weapon of mass destruction, as a technology demonstrator.
Why did the US decide to bomb Japan, which was nearly 3000 km from the US mainland? Why did the US not decide to bomb Germany, which was the leader of Axis powers? Was ‘colour of skin’ a factor in deciding between Japan and Germany?
Post 2nd world war three important international events took place. These were Creation of the United Nations and birth of two most prominent military alliances, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Warsaw Pact. 75 years later the UN exists sans any worthwhile influence in international affairs.
NATO is ‘Brain Dead’ as claimed by outgoing German Chancellor Ms Angela Merkel and the Warsaw Pact has been extinguished after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Numerous new treaties and alliances have taken birth all over the globe, mostly for economic development of the region by way of increased trading and sharing of surplus resources with friendly neighbours.
Two alliances of relatively recent origin are essentially military alliances aimed towards containing increasing Chinese influence. These are QUAD (USA, Japan, Australia and India as members) and a few days old AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and USA as members).
QUAD was dormant for over a decade with Japan and Australia no longer interested/disinterested in being a part of QUAD. Gradual increase in intensity of trade war between USA and China, which reached a crescendo during last few months of Trump presidency, forced USA to convince Japan and Australia to come on board and actively participate in QUAD activities along with India.
A stark reality has dawned on military strategists all over the world that China cannot be contained unless India is part of the alliance. India’s unique position on the globe is India’s strength. USA’s stated policy of alliances has been governed/continues to be governed by the paradox “if you are not with us, you are against us”.
So far Australia’s stand on nuclear proliferation has been that of containment. However, the sudden and overnight change in Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear powered submarines from the USA is indeed a matter of surprise and concern.
Cancelling the deal with France is merely a financial issue and has little or no strategic significance. French violent and volatile reaction on cancellation of deal will evaporate in thin air in due course. The USA has already applied the ‘balm’ by deciding to buy French Barracuda submarines and ‘donate’ it to Vietnam.
However Australia did not have to join a brand new military alliance to purchase US nuclear submarines. It is in that context that Australia surprised the whole world by joining AUKUS. In doing so it has not only invited the wrath of China but also its ‘trusted friend and ally’ France. Formation of AUKUS has sowed the seeds of the 3rd World War, maybe inadvertently.
Little digression at this stage is essential to highlight the ‘WHITE SKIN’ mentality wrt economic issues. Angst of France against Australia and USA emanates from loss of nearly USD 100 Billion contract for manufacturing 12 Diesel-electric submarines. In a deft move USA has snatched the contract from France by promising to supply nuclear powered submarines to Australia. France has retaliated violently in diplomatic parlance by recalling its ambassadors from Australia and USA.
Duplicitous behavior of France would be quite evident if we examined the reaction of France on a few international issues of global concern. Did China’s recent actions of crushing freedom in Hong Kong and declaring South China Sea as Chinese territory result in France recalling its ambassador from China? No. Did Russian invasion of UKRAINE ruffle diplomatic feathers in France? No. Hence diplomatic behavior of France indicates fragility of relations of ‘white skinned’ nations.
Would France have reacted in the same manner on formation of AUKUS, if the submarine contract had not been snatched away and/or France, too would have been part of AUKUS by renaming it as FAUKUS? Joe Biden’s decision has not only angered France but the entire European Union. What is, however, surprising is that the USA has termed AUKUS as a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance without India being a part of AUKUS. A look at the globe would prove the point if a triangle is drawn joining Australia, UK and USA.
Europe has always been concerned about American wars fought on European soil. Creation of AUKUS only helps to strengthen the lingering doubt. US diplomats must be trying to extinguish the flames of distrust but in the short term USA and France will not remain on the same page on international issues including growing Chinese power. The USA is trying to set right ruffled feathers by buying French Barracuda Submarines and supplying these to Vietnam.
Moving away from the European Union to the main player; China. As expected China has reacted violently, at least in diplomatic parlance. One of the statement made by Chinese Foreign Ministry representative reads;
“If Australia dares to provoke China more blatantly because of that, or even find fault militarily, China will certainly punish it with no mercy. Thus Australian troops are also most likely to be the first batch of western soldiers to waste their lives in the South China Sea.”
Supposedly the core issue of ownership of South China Sea (SCS) merits a look into. It was in 1940 that a Chinese geographer printed a map of South China Sea with a U-shaped line, which was called the ‘Nine Dash Line’. If authenticity of the line was to be accepted, China owns nearly 90% of South China Sea. Coupled with provisions of UNCLOS and newly created artificial islands in SCS, which China calls its sovereign territory, the entire SCS becomes Chinese territory.
Hardly any opposition to Chinese claims in SCS was ever heard in past 70 odd years (1940-2010). SCS issue became a ‘news’ only after PCA delivered the judgement in favour of Philippines few years back. Chinese activity of creating artificial islands is known to have commenced more than a decade ago. No country ever highlighted FONOPS related issues in SCS and Chinese opposition to the transit.
It is only in last few years (in particular after COVID 19 outbreak in December, 2019) that Australia, USA and other ‘White Skinned’ nations have raised the bogey of Chinese sovereignty in SCS. Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have disputes with China over Chinese claim of SCS. But even these nations did not raise the issue of NINE DASH line with same intensity as in past few years.
Issue came into prominence when in 2009 China included a map marking NINE DASH line along with documents submitted to UN during a dispute with Vietnam. Primary reason for dispute relates to ownership of Paracel and Spratly islands. For reference and better understanding of NINE DASH line, a map of area available on internet is placed below.
Originally the NINE DASH line was the ELEVEN DASH line as conceived by Chinese geographer Yang, who named each reef/rock and called it SCS. Time Magazine published a feature on SCS in 1947. However in 1952, 11 DASH line became NINE DASH line, when the then Chairman Mao-Tse-Tung (now Mao Zedong) accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin belonged to Vietnam.
However, the U-shape of the NINE DASH line remained. Each DASH is representative of the median line between islands in SCS and large land masses around it. Current flashpoints in addition to turmoil in SCS, which might, rather will, act as a catalyst to envelope entire globe into 3rd World War are listed below;
Russia-Ukraine standoff. Probable/possible Russian-USA standoff if Ukraine is admitted in NATO is nearly certain. Although in view of the EU being in turmoil, membership of Ukraine as a NATO nation is doubtful.
- Iran-Israel conflict over Iran’s nuclear capability. Fresh discussions on reviving JCPOA are currently in progress. Irrespective of the outcome Israel will no longer wait and take appropriate action to prevent Iran from producing weapon grade Uranium.
- Chinese threat to Taiwan. Repeated incursion in Taiwanese territory by large formations of PLAAF fighter/bombers is not only for show of force but also for collecting SIGINT for a possible strike. Taiwan Air Force strike elements are spread over four bases. An airborne assault by China to neutralize these four air bases cannot be ruled out in conjunction with amphibious assault on western shores.
- Russian and US military presence in the Middle East. The Middle East is still burning. US forces are still in Syria. Evacuation from Afghanistan and Iraq was due to public pressure within the USA.
Continued transit of US Naval ships from SCS, arming Australia with nuclear powered submarines as well as providing French submarines to Vietnam will almost certainly result in retaliation from China.
By taking such provocative actions USA has accomplished yet another unwanted and unwarranted military objective; Shifting the US battlefield from Europe (against the USSR, now Russia) to the Australian continent (against China).
In the event of an armed conflict USA would have little or nothing to lose because existential threat will be to Australia and smaller nations around SCS. Should Australia not realize this stark reality and conclude that ultimately Australia will have to take care of its security alone?
India’s active participation in QUAD merits a look into. From an Indian perspective QUAD is a military alliance with three other nations, who have consistently opposed India’s stand on two vital issues viz Jammu and Kashmir and India going nuclear.
Duplicitous approach of Australia is most prominent in this regard. The USA is a confirmed user of weapons of mass destruction. Japanese opposition to the nuclear option is understandable, being the only country to have suffered annihilation from a nuclear weapon.
The Indo-Pacific term has become the most talked about strategic issue. Geography enables India to not only protect its interest in the Indian Ocean but also control the traffic through the most important waterway on the globe. Threat, if any, will develop from ports in Pakistan.
Four important Pak ports Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara will pose a threat, if Pak allows Navies of Indian adversaries to operate. However all four ports are well within IAF range and can be neutralized, if need arises. The USA is attempting to use the ‘Indian Shoulder’ to contain China. Surely our decision makers are aware of this stark reality.
We will never know who was responsible for the crash of the airliner in which Dr Homi Bhabha was travelling! White Skin nations do not give a damn before launching a missile on an airliner, be it KAL OO7 by Russia or Iranian Airliner by US during gulf war.
There are bound to be few voices which will opine that QUAD and AUKUS will send a strong message to China. They need to rethink. Global cornering of China will result in retaliation by China sooner than later. Taiwan will be the first target. Chinese Hongkong experience has emboldened China to govern its territories as it deems fit.
US support for Taiwan is cosmetic in political terms. The US does not recognize Taiwan as a separate nation and has been categoric in its assertion about ‘ONE CHINA’ policy. Similarly comparison between ANZUS and AUKUS will be indicative of strategic infirmity in thinking. ANZUS signed in 1951 was under an entirely different set of global conditions.
AUKUS has been signed when the globe is in turmoil. Incidentally ANZUS is no longer valid, although not abrogated, because the USA and NewZealand no longer maintain a security relationship. NewZealand has commented adversely about the supply of nuclear submarines to Australia. Similarity of ANZUS and AUKUS is confined to both rhyming well.
India and China can, rather, resolve their differences amicably in near future because mutual animosity will be detrimental to both nations. The Galwan Valley standoff must be viewed as a blessing in disguise. It enabled India to flex its muscles to protect its territorial integrity.
China has received the message. China and India must reconcile their differences from a position of strength. Any attempt to prove primacy over each other will be counter productive. India must remain clear of ‘WHITE SKIN’ (read US and EU) intent to corner China by placing India in front as a QUAD member.
Unlike the 1st and 2nd World Wars, which were essentially fought for regional/global supremacy by ‘White Skins’, THIRD WORLD WAR will be fought based on maintaining supremacy of COLOUR OF SKIN.Formation of AUKUS and supply of nuclear submarines by USA to Australia is not only the most terrible strategic decision but also has sown the seeds of the 3rd World War.
About the Author
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'.
He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security'. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected]