Biden administration is barely two weeks old. Eminently qualified and responsible intellectuals of USA have already published a document titled;
From Trump to Biden; The Way Forward for US National Security
Without contesting the contents and views expressed by the authors, it is an excellent effort on part of US intellectuals to apprise the new administration of the challenges it is likely to face during next few years. A fine example of how candidly these intellectuals express their views without fear or favour as mentioned in foreword of this document is pasted below;
“Yet there are foreign policy lessons to be learned from the Trump presidency. Whether challenging the Chinese Communist Party after years of accommodation and even obsequiousness, applying maximum pressure on the regime in Iran, or forging peace between Israel and no fewer than four Arab states, there are important wins to process. And even where Trump stumbled, such as by insulting NATO allies; flattering dictators such as Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin; pressuring Ukraine to advance his own re-election; attempting to help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoid accountability for a massive sanctions-busting scheme; making a bad “peace” deal with the Taliban; or suddenly withdrawing troops from Syria, there are lessons to be learned. We cannot simply dismiss four years of policymaking because Trump’s legacy is now indelibly stained.”
No wonder then that USA has occupied the numero uno status as a nation state in the world in post 2nd world war era. The mightiest power of the world UNITED STATES OF AMERICA has not achieved this status overnight. The nation has been home to some of the most brilliant minds, who do not hesitate to call a spade a spade as long as their utterances were in overall national interests. What is equally important is the fact that US state department views such opinions with compassion and conviction in the larger national interest.
They express their views unequivocally on every conceivable issue. They dwell in detail US relations with rest of the world clearly listing out the measures for way forward to not only keep friends of US SATISFIED AND SAFE but also give CLEAR WARNING to US adversaries. Such documents are essentially like models, which enable the government to make quick and rational decisions avoiding waste of time and delays in decision making.
In depth study by these intellectuals leads to minimizing inordinate delays due to exceptional uncertainties prevailing. Their document is a fine example of geopolitical commentary. As an
example listed below are the views of these intellectuals contained in the said document wrt to progression of Indo-US relations as well as China-US relations. Document clearly enunciates the measures that need to be adopted by US in respect of maintaining cordial relations with India and China. Incidentally similar specific proposals are contained in the document in respect of many other countries, both friends and adversaries of USA.
- Continue defense sales and cooperation. To rapidly increase India‟s capacity to defend itself and act as an effective partner in the Indo-Pacific, the Biden administration should pursue additional weapons sales to India and identify surplus U.S. military equipment and platforms that New Delhi can acquire at low cost or even for free, as occurred with the USS Trenton in 2006.63 This will show that the U.S.-India relationship is more than transactional.
- To bolster Indian opponents of buying Russian weapons, impose sanctions on all foreign buyers of prohibited Russian military hardware. The Trump administration hesitated to impose sanctions on Turkey for purchasing the S-400 but eventually did so in December 2020. The United States should be equally firm with all others, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, now considering an S-400 purchase. The prohibition and consequences must be clear to India.
- Work to formalize the Quad, ideally expanding it to include economic and trade components. Washington could join, or at least not impede, the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which currently consists of India, Japan, and Australia.
- Support Delhi should it desire to establish Quad operational bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and, ideally, in U.S. territories (possibly Guam), Australia, and Japan, too. This could dovetail with the U.S. secretary of the navy‟s call to establish a numbered fleet (the 1st Fleet) in the Indo-Pacific.64
- Continue the policy of publicly backing India against terrorist and Chinese aggression. The incoming administration should exhibit restraint with public comments about issues India considers domestic, unless they involve specific, incontrovertible cases of human rights abuses.
- Deepen existing cooperation on counterterrorism and intelligence sharing with Indian counterparts on issues that can affect strategic decision making. For example, the United States and India should cooperate to combat transnational corruption, such as market manipulation that undermines the Indian economy, and foreign influence operations targeting key Indian leaders.
- Facilitate trade policies that allow India to become a supply chain alternative to China in sectors in which on shoring to the United States is not viable. This includes not impeding Indian economic engagement with third countries, which often has the advantage of cutting out Beijing. For example, Washington should not push for trade barriers that block low-cost Indian pharmaceuticals from markets in Asia and Africa.
- Support India’s lead on diplomatic initiatives of mutual benefit. For example, some in the Indian strategic community are proposing an Indo-Pacific Charter – a version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941 incorporating 21st-century concerns – that would provide a cooperation and coordination framework for like-minded countries on issues such as governance of space, data, and protection of democracies.
- Compete to define emerging technical standards, especially in key information domains such as modern logistics and the regulation of cross-border data flows. China intends to set the rules for the future. The United States must respond with dedicated multilateral efforts in UN-linked bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization and the International Telecommunication Union and in industry associations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. U.S. government research and development (R&D) funding should shift from basic research and toward later-stage, applied technology efforts. R&D funding and government research institutes, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation, should be enlisted in the race to define technical standards globally.
- Defend or replace international organizations at risk of being co-opted by Beijing, while activating alternatives. Beijing has co-opted or inserted its own advocates into a wide range of international organizations. The challenges these organizations pose must be analyzed and prioritized. For example, an overhaul of the World Trade Organization should be a priority. Beijing’s 2001 accession to the body enabled its global offensive. An alternative or remodeled institution, formed with trusted allies and partners as well as the private sector, would not only reassert a rules-based global trade regime but also help create a system defined by multinational companies in a way that balances asymmetric exposures to, and dependencies on, the CCP.
- Fund trusted supply chains with allies and partners. Beijing’s military-civil fusion strategy seizes critical chokepoints within global supply chains. These positions offer direct economic returns and access to advanced technology. In times of crisis, as COVID-19 revealed, these positions also deliver coercive leverage. Washington should invest in physical infrastructure and production – with help from adjustments to the tax code and other incentives for public-private partnership – to protect against Beijing‟s manufacturing leverage. Washington should prioritize new infrastructure systems and relevant supply chains (such as 5G base stations, data centers, and critical raw materials such as rare earth elements).
- Highlight and respond to China’s human rights abuses. The CCP is conducting a genocide in Xinjiang. The CCP has stripped Hong Kong of its democracy and autonomy. The White House and Congress must respond to these abuses not just with clear statements of principle or threats of sanctions, but also with measures that impose a greater cost on the regime, including prosecution of criminal actions related to, and seizures of goods produced by, forced labor. The United States should also mobilize coordinated action with allies across the globe.
- Target China’s military and diplomatic sensitivities. U.S. military and diplomatic strategy should activate Beijing‟s sensitivities – both for tactical advantage and, strategically, to shape China’s resource allocations. For example, the United States should respond to Beijing’s violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in Hong Kong by recognizing Taiwan. The Department of Defense should develop new operational concepts that demonstrate, for example, a capacity to penetrate the Chinese military’s anti-access posture.33 Diplomatic and military positioning should be signaled in a consistent and competitive fashion to guarantee that China‟s Communist leaders understand the costs of their actions and the depth of U.S. resolve.
A great nation is not built overnight. A powerful nation is not defined by her military prowess, roaring economy, huge deposits of rare earths, gold or diamonds; A great nation is defined and made powerful by the collective intellectual wisdom of few members of the nation, who are capable of visualizing the future events accurately and most importantly placing their thoughts in words for perusal of the governing apparatus of the nation.
Indian intellectuals heading and occupying positions of authority are essentially post event specialists, whose expertise is on “cut and paste” job marked “Secret/Top Secret”. Rarely a futuristic outlook of any worthwhile relevance is ever placed in public domain. They avoid pointing out limitations/flaws in working of strategically important institutions vis DRDO, HAL, Ordnance Factories to name a few. Because their “bread and butter” is provided by these dysfunctional organizations, which have produced nothing of substance till date in form of state of art weapons platforms etc. They are near perfect “yes men/women”.
Our intellectual “THINK TANKS” avoid discussing „controversial‟ issues and have total disdain for diametrically opposite points of view. The journals published by these think tanks is a classic example of cut and paste job without ever condemning/criticizing performance/prevailing policies adopted either by the government or state sponsored institutions.
No wonder then that India holds the unique position among the comity of nations as the largest importer of weapons. As a proud Indian I am ashamed that we have the distinction of holding the largest “BEGGING BOWL” of weapons platforms. We produce nothing which can match world standards and are not likely to do so in near future in spite of sustained and continued exhortation by one of the ablest PM, the nation has had since independence. Our intellectual mercenaries support such institutions by supporting their “FUTURE TENSE‟ claims.
Their oft quoted defence for their continued non-performance and incompetence is that the world we are living in is extremely unpredictable. While it is right to be cautious but taking shelter behind the unpredictable nature of world is nothing short of intellectual cowardice. World will always remain unpredictable not only because of temperamental leaders of various nations but also due to natural calamities such as Tsunami, earthquakes, jungle fires, famine and floods etc.
The great philosopher Chanakya had postulated that a nation devoid of intellectual wisdom can never ever become a great nation. How true?
Hopefully some conscientious intellectual earning a second salary/career in our think tanks will follow the example of US intellectuals.