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A Troika and Its Formation
Proposed U.S.-Indo-Japan alliance in the Indian Ocean invites concerns over regional stability
By Makhdoom Babar NO. 12 MARCH 23, 2017
According to reports appearing in international media, very recently (on March 3) the Hudson Institute, a U.S.-based American think tank, and New Delhi-based Indian think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), which is suspected to be funded and be run covertly by the Indian Army, held a day-long, closed door conference in Washington D.C. The conference, which was portrayed to be a session of Indian and American "scholars," was heavily represented by the Indian Army, including former Indian Army chiefs, who played active roles in the moot's deliberations.

Though the subject for discussion at the said conference was set as the "future of Indo-U.S. ties under the Trump Administration," the reported proceedings of the moot indicate that the event was held to counter China, and to some extent Pakistan, through joint and synchronized plans--not only by the U.S. and India, but also by engaging Japan in the game. This troika aims to counter Pakistan to a great extent, bracketing it with China. More importantly, in the said conference, the U.S.-led controversy over the South China Sea was brought to life again by terming China's lawful and historically proven claims as "Chinese assertiveness."

Nonaligned and neutral media commentators and relevant analysts are viewing this development as testament to the covert agenda of the United States to bring Japan and India on board in countering China's growing economic and strategic influence in the region.

The U.S. is clearly aware of the fact that it alone cannot halt China's rapidly growing economic, diplomatic and political stature across the world in general and in the Asia-Pacific in particular; thus, Washington appears to be turning increasingly to its alliances in order to fulfill its objective of maintaining U.S. hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. In continuation of this, India, on the other side, also seems disturbed by China's presence and the growing economic collaboration with its arch rivals, Pakistan. Hence, India is also using the U.S. as a counter strategy against China, which for now appears to be a win-win situation for them.

One needs to keep in mind here that the Philippines, the previous pawn of the U.S. in Washington's chess game over the South China Sea, has already decided to resolve its territory related issues with China on a bilateral level. This followed the souring of ties between China and the Philippines, which was actually a failed effort by the United States to create a proxy war in the region. The development in Manila, it appears, came as quite a blow for the speculated U.S.-Japan-India troika.

The chronology of events is reflective of desperate U.S. attempts to create anarchy in the region via building a counter force which amalgamates India and Japan. The so-called theory of "Chinese assertiveness" in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean is not only absurd but also proves to be completely unsubstantiated. In fact, the cooperation and collaboration between China and Pakistan will be profitable and proficient for the entire region and the international system. The "assertiveness" terminology, it appears, has been created to counter China's aim of peaceful rise.

In view of the Washington moot, one also needs to keep in mind that India has already embarked upon executing a U.S.-blessed project of militarily strengthening with another player in the South China Sea controversy: Viet Nam. International media reports have already suggested that India has started providing the Vietnamese Navy with anti-ship cruise missiles (BrahMos), a move that could immediately instigate an arms race in the Indian Ocean, bringing a new wave of hostility and instability to the region.

One has to deem the ongoing state of affairs as an American effort in creating a strategic bloc with Japan and India to counter China and Pakistan. The situation may well prompt China to form its own counter-alliances, which could lead to a repeat of another cold war, with the only difference being some of the players involved.

The international community is beginning to understand China's actual philosophy of peaceful rise, which is primarily focused on extending benefits to other economies as well as its own, hence elevating the financial status of partnering countries.

China's Belt and Road Initiative, which includes China Pakistan Economic Corridor, is not only a Chinese endeavor, but rather an integrating force that will bind and serve the accumulated populations of China and South Asia (approximately one-third of the world population).

This offer of partnership is open to all. The situation calls for a serious reaction by world leaders to halt the move to form a U.S.-India-Japan troika, as it will destabilize the international system and further divide the world into different blocs.

The author is president and editor-in-chief of The Daily Mail in Pakistan and senior research fellow at Centre for Global and Strategic Studies

Copyedited by Dominic James Madar

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