India must appreciate the changed international milieu and its newly acquired power potential. It can no longer retreat into a shell of procrastination”¦
It is in this context that India must formulate and orchestrate its national security strategy without unbalancing equations with other regional players that feel threatened by its emergence as a global power. In the larger scheme of things, it would be prudent for her not to be seen to be aligning with an external power that aims to reshape the prevailing security matrix.
Keeping this in mind, India must appreciate the changed international milieu and its newly acquired power potential. It can no longer retreat into a shell of procrastination but needs to productively deploy its fast-growing economic power, potent military capacities and extraordinary human resources to exercise her prerogative to secure her sovereignty and national interests through gainful interaction with the full spectrum of global powers in keeping with internationally accepted norms.
NATO wants a deeper engagement with India in fields ranging from counterterrorism and antipiracy to cyber security and ballistic missile defence (BMD). A senior NATO official has suggested that India should shed its Cold War-non-aligned mind-set for greater international security. U.S. permanent representative to NATO Ivo H. Daalder suggests “The dialogue will establish how India and NATO can work together to promote security and tackle new emerging threats.”23 He goes on to advocate a deeper engagement with India in fields ranging from counterterrorism and antipiracy to cyber security and BMD.
Terrorism is essentially a domestic issue that exacerbates the internal security of an individual state.
This raises a number of questions. Terrorism is essentially a domestic issue that exacerbates the internal security of an individual state. Countering that is tantamount to ensuring good governance to mitigate the frustrations amongst disaffected citizens appropriately supported by stern law and order policies to make militancy an unattractive proposition. Failing this national military means are applied judiciously in keeping with the constitutional mandate. The concept of noninterference by outside powers is integral to resolving domestic problems—be it through military power or through intelligence acquisition.
There are certain exceptions. The more obvious is the glaring example of piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa and the Malacca Straits. India has provided unreserved support to deal with both by deploying its naval forces to defend ships and crew irrespective of their national affiliations. The other and far more treacherous manifestation is “state-sponsored” terrorism, which is a means of waging a “proxy war” against another state. This is a culpable act of war that opens itself to interstate military cooperation. India has been the target of blatant state-sponsored terrorism authored by Pakistan for the last two-plus decades.24 In the 1990s, NATO countries in particular and the world in general glossed over this heinous behaviour by Pakistan, 25 in which thousands of Indian lives were lost. It suited the West to continue castigating India’s counterterrorism strategy in Kashmir in deference to domestic constituents and to keep India on notice for future strategic intentions of their own. It was not until 2002 that George W. Bush declared war against states responsible for sponsoring terrorism—that too against an assortment of states while excluding Pakistan.26
The flexibility of the American function of “alliance” is highly unpredictable, so aptly demonstrated in its application vis-Ã -vis its “war on terror,” wherein it feels free to bomb Pakistan, which it forcibly co-opted as a partner and which has been granted a MNNA status.
How does New Delhi engage with NATO in counterterrorism when it differs fundamentally in its definition of “terrorism” and “concept of engagement” that are integral to its national interests and also the initiating state’s raison d’être for such operations? Engagement must, therefore, be limited to those issues where a common ground exists and excluding areas where such action may further destabilise regional security equilibrium.
Cyber security is a critical national vulnerability that exists in the realms of a pervasive “electromagnetic spectrum.” Computer dependency is a universal facet of all fields of governance, making these networks susceptible to crippling virus attacks. Binary access to a secure spectrum and codes increases risks of penetration and could compromises autonomy of action-generating new vulnerabilities in Delhi’s capacity to manage its national security strategy. Considering India falls into the category “existence of powerful nuclear forces outside the alliance,” which the new NATO mandate labels a threat, it continues to be a nonproliferation target under Article 5 of NATO’s current mandate. Combined with demonstrated capabilities to execute crippling cyber attacks to disable Iran’s nuclear programme, 27 New Delhi must be careful that cooperation in cyber security does not extend to hardware or software that may provide widows for access to external forces. Engagement must, therefore, be limited to policy issues without compromising national cyber security means.
The missile threat to Europe and that faced by India emanate from different sources and are of a different nature. NATO disclaimers notwithstanding, the alliance states have revived Russian animosity by their blatant attempts to induce former states of the erstwhile Soviet Union to join NATO. Furthermore, it plans to deploy elements of its BMD systems in ex–Warsaw Pact countries and Georgia, generating the perception that it is directed against Russia. The other threat is from conventionally armed missiles being fielded by Iran. India, on the other hand, has a direct threat from Pakistan (a designated MNNA) and China.
Can New Delhi bank on NATO to participate in an arrangement to secure India against missiles being launched against it during a conflict with Pakistan or China? Or, for that matter, in the event the U.S. initiates a counterproliferation strike against India in support of an ally? Would it be prudent for Delhi to be seen taking sides in the on-going NATO-Russian-American wrangle vis-à-vis BMD? The answer to all three is an emphatic NO.
Two excellent examples exist in Indias commitment to safeguard sea lines of communication through the Malacca Straits and its commitment to facilitate rebuilding Afghanistans infrastructure.
The efficacy of fielding BMDs is questionable and a waste of resources and effort, be it by the Americans, the Europeans or India. Reliance on satellites for detection and targeting of incoming missiles and precision guidance through radio make BMD systems susceptible to destruction, intrusion and blanketing by antisatellite systems and electronic countermeasure (ECM) operations and exclusion by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) blanketing. The last two are relatively cheap and easy to create.
The Indian strategic community needs to start looking out of the “American Box.” Does it have the resources to develop and deploy an autonomous Indian GPS navigation system to provide guaranteed support for our strategic and conventional weapons inventory, like Russia and China are in the process of doing? Can India guarantee successfully operating such a system during a conflict, which may directly or indirectly affect the national interests of one or more of the major powers? Why has the U.S. been pressuring India to share its BMD development? Those formulating India’s national strategies need to get answers to these and many more critical questions before following the paths marketed by foreign glossies.
In conclusion, I would like to state that for the last six years, India has been engaging Washington in the hope of establishing a strategic alliance between the two. The term “strategic alliance” is in itself an oxymoron. The flexibility of the American function of “alliance” is highly unpredictable, so aptly demonstrated in its application vis-à-vis its “war on terror,” wherein it feels free to bomb Pakistan, which it forcibly co-opted as a partner and which has been granted a MNNA status.
A strategic alliance is an arrangement between two or more countries to collectively achieve specific objectives that conform to defined parameters dictating resources, space and time and is directed to specific states. What then is the objective envisaged for the much-sought-after Indo-U.S. strategic alliance? Or is this to be governed carte blanche in keeping with the revised NATO mandate? In my view, it would be imprudent for India, whose foreign policy has been successfully hinged on the philosophy of neutrality, to stake its national interests on an all-encompassing strategic alliance. This, however, does not preclude it from entering into specific objective-based bilateral arrangements with the U.S. and its NATO allies to achieve legitimate goals in keeping with its nonaligned policy. Two excellent examples exist in India’s commitment to safeguard sea lines of communication through the Malacca Straits and its commitment to facilitate rebuilding Afghanistan’s infrastructure.
“¦in the evolving global economic milieu, it makes sense for India to establish some “mutually beneficial arrangements” with the U.S. and its NATO partners as it has with Russia.
In so far as the expansion of NATO is concerned, Delhi needs to take cognisance of possible attempts by the alliance to recreate the colonial regime that provided the wherewithal on which their existing power quotient rests. Peculiarly enough, the much-sought-after “engagement” is directed to strategically sensitive issues, the purpose of which lies exclusively in India having to make certain unnecessary compromises.
Nevertheless, in the evolving global economic milieu, it makes sense for India to establish some “mutually beneficial arrangements” with the U.S. and its NATO partners as it has with Russia. In doing so, South Block needs to ensure that other regional powers that have a direct bearing on India’s national interests, such as China, with whom we are in the process of resolving a major territorial dispute, and Iran, which is a major source for critical oil supplies, do not perceive these initiatives as inimical to their interests.
Notes and References
- Daniel Fried. “Press Roundtable with NATO Reporting Tour Journalists.” Department of State, Washington, DC, 17 April 2007. <http://prague.usembassy.gov/md704-fried.html>.
- Bill Bradley. “A Diplomatic Mystery.” Foreign Policy, September/October 2009. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/08/13/a_diplomatic_mystery>.
- Steven Kosiak, Andrew Krepinevich and Michael Vickers. “A Strategy for a Long Peace.” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, January 2001. <http://www.csbaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/2001.01.12-Alternative-Defense-Strategy.pdf>.
- NATO. “The North Atlantic Treaty.” 4 April 1949. <http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm>.
- Jefferson Chase. “Background: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).” Deutsche Welle, 14 May 2010. <http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5562889,00.html>.
- The Washington Summits. Federation of American Scientists, 22–23 April 1999. <http://www.fas.org/man/nato/natodocs/99042411.htm>.
- Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. “The Globalization of Military Power: NATO and the Broader Network of US Sponsored Military Alliances.” Global Research, 18 May 2007. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5677>.
- NATO. “Prague Summit Declaration.” Issued by the heads of state and government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Prague, 21 November 2002. <http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/2002/p02-127e.htm>.
- Op cit, n. 7 and n. 9.
- Op cit, n. 8.
- Vladimir Putin. “Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy” (Address, Munich Conference on Security Policy, Munich, Bavaria, 10 February 2007).
- Judy Dempsey. “U.S. Senator Urges Use of NATO Defense Clause for Energy.” International Herald Tribune, 28 November 2006.
- Op cit, n. 8.
- Christopher Boucek. “Terrorism out of Saudi Arabia.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 12 September 2011. <http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2011/09/12/terrorism-out-of-saudi-arabia/53pw>.
- James Petras. “NATO’s War Crimes in Libya: Who Grieves for the Fallen Heroes?” The People’s Voice.org, 12 September 2011. <http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2011/09/12/nato-s-war-crimes-in-libya-who-grieves-f>.
- Op cit, n. 8.
- Outlook India. “CISMOA, LSA Not on Table of Indo-US Strategic Dialogue.” 15 July 2011. <http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?727872>.
- U.S. Department of Defense. “Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement Between National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Ministry of Defence of the Kingdom of Norway.” <http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/143676.pdf>.
- South Asian Defense and Strategic Affairs. “US Navy Chief in India on Maiden Visit.” 9 April 2010. <http://www.stratpost.com/us-navy-chief-in-india>.
- Sameer Suryakant Patil. “Explaining the India-Us Logistics Support Agreement.” Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 28 February 2008. <http://www.ipcs.org/article/military/explaining-the-india-us-logistics-support-agreement-2500.html>.
- R. Shamasastry (translator). Kautilya’s Arthashastra: Book VI, ‘The Source of Sovereign States.’ Bangalore Government Press, 1915. <http://www.american-buddha.com/cult.kautilyaarthashastra6.htm>.
- Rajat Pandit. “NATO Seeks Greater Engagement with India.” Times of India, 2 September 2011. <http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-02/india/30105007_1_india-and-NATO-north-atlantic-treaty-organization-european-led>.
- B. Raman. “Pakistani Sponsorship of Terrorism.” South Asia Analysis Group, 25 February 2000. <http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers2%5Cpaper106.html>.
- US Department of State. “Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism.” Country Reports on Terrorism, 18 August 2011. <http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2010/170260.htm>.
- “Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2001.” Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, 21 May 2002. <http://www.cubanet.org/ref/dis/05210201.htm>.
- Tom Gjelten. “Security Expert: U.S. ‘Leading Force’ Behind Stuxnet.” NPR, 26 September 2011. <http://www.npr.org/2011/09/26/140789306/security-expert-u-s-leading-force-behind-stuxnet>