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Reasons for the QUAD failing to punch above its weight?
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VBN Ram | Date:11 Oct , 2020 1 Comment
Postgraduate in business management from XLRI Jamshedpur, is widely travelled and immensely interested in and concerned about contemporary geostrategic developments. He has been a China watcher and has researched extensively on Asia-Pacific affairs. He has also written on developments in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Maldives.

In theory a military combine of the US, Japan, Australia and India, the four members of the QUAD, is unassailable. If these formidable four, can foster an irretrievable resolve to take on a Chinese PLA head on –in the event of an attack on any one / a few , or , all of the four the destruction to PLA will be phenomenal, even if the forces of the QUAD also suffer sizable losses.

There are numerous examples when bilateral and multilateral military alliances have failed to come to the rescue of vulnerable members, and- on occasions, some “alliance friendly” non members, whose unguarded exposure, might wreck havoc to the alliance by adversaries. When Crimea was annexed by Russia, the US led NATO failed to come to the rescue of Ukraine ( because, the US believed that it could later manipulate the pro-Russian government led by Prime-Minister Sergey Aksyonov ( who succeeded Victor Yanukovych ) -merely to serve the US of its larger long term interests. Of course, Ukraine still remains un-admitted to NATO, precisely the US believes that the inclusion of Ukraine in NATO will expose its European members to attack(s) from Russia. Also, Germany and France were opposed to Ukraine’s admission to NATO.

Economic and other sanctions imposed by the US on Russia have not fully served their intended purpose.

John Bolton, the former US National Security adviser writing in his book The Room Where it Happened states “ this major Russian-American dispute proves that failing to act earlier to bring Ukraine into NATO left this large, critically important country vulnerable to Putin’s efforts to reestablish Russian hegemony …… “

Bolton further opines that Georgia, which was under a similar predicament, was forced to become a satellite of Russia and continues to be one

 When there are changes in individual governments forming a military alliance- the foreign policy of a successor government may be at complete variance with that of the predecessor.

QUAD meeting in Tokyo :

Pompeo said it was critical now for the US’ regional allies in the Indo-Pacific region to counter the Communist Party of China’s exploitation, coercion and corruption in the South and East China Seas, the Taiwan Straits and the Mekong delta.

Formalized Security framework on a mini-NATO pattern:

Mike Pompeo adds “once we have institutionalized what we’re doing, the four of us together –we can begin to build out a true security framework.” Perhaps Pompeo wishes to model this proposed security umbrella platform on the NATO model.

“ The notion of a mini-NATO is unlikely in the near future says “ Sebastian Maslow a geostrategic expert-with focus on East Asia and, in particular, Japan –connected to Sendai Shirayuri Women’s University “we’ve seen plenty of regional institutions over the course of the last three decades. The problem is never in the lack of institutions, but rather in their governance capabilities-since members were often embroiled in rivalries and had competing interests.”

There are competing claims and rivalries among nations bordering South and East China Seas, as well as the Indian Ocean region.

Japan signing up to unrestrained antagonism against Beijing would be hugely detrimental to Japan. As neighbours they have to work together and China is Japan’s largest export market.

While China was expressly specified as the security threat by the US naming it, none of the other three members of Quad named China.

Despite Pompeo’s hawkish stance –there was no joint statement following the QUAD summit.

Naval Bases of PLA threatening World Peace:

From Djibouti in the horn of Africa to Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Kyaukphyu in Myanmar- to now, the most threatening one at the Ream Naval Base in Cambodia –which endangers the security of the Indian Ocean rim nations and the South and East China Seas – a facility which could hinder a future US rescue mission to Taiwan, should the latter face an attack from the PRC- the Chinese have substantially fortified their presence in all these zones.

Of course, the PRC has craftily placated the insecurities of Philippines by an ostensible pretense of “cooperating with the Philippines Coast Guard.” It has made conditional sales of sophisticated arms to Malaysia, to grind its own axe.

In October 2019 Singapore and the PRC concluded a defence agreement which included establishing logistics and support systems. Thailand collaborates with the PRC in the production of defence items. Needless to say, the PRC gets involved in such ventures only when they serve its own interests.

Do all such activities not put roadblocks to nations which are vulnerable to an attack by the PRC, besides putting a spanner in QUAD’s well designed logistics and tactical strategies to counter China?

The US-Cambodia ties have plummeted to an abysmal depth, and now this nation is sold out to the PRC hook, line and sinker. After the Paris Peace Accords were signed, which put an end to the twenty-one year old civil war in Cambodia- the latter, has , from time to time been cold shouldering the US. Of course the US on its part has threatened to cut off aid to Phnom Penh, unless it initiates political reforms.

Following the recent QUAD summit- a statement was released on Oct 7, 2020 by China’s Foreign Ministry which states “Beijing has long maintained that multilateral cooperation should be open, tolerant and transparent rather than conducted in closed and exclusive small circles and should not be targeted at third parties.

The PRC by the standards has prescribed above is the very epitome of hypocrisy. What is worrying is that the nations it has hoodwinked continue to remain entrapped.

Reference :

•  QUAD meeting in Tokyo Prizes Symbolism over Substance

•  By Jesse Johnson and Satoshi Sujiyama: Japan Times

•  RT television : Oct 8, 2010

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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