Indien firar idag

Mats Björkenfeldt

Indien firar idag sin 75 självständighetsdag, till minne av befrielsen från Storbritannien 1947. Samtidigt som den indiske diplomaten Rajiv Dogra publicerat boken War Time: The World in Danger (2022).

Här två längre citat, som målar upp en mörk framtid:

” Instead, many clashes may take place within Europe. After the failure, or near failure, of communism, capitalism and liberalism, the world’s new mantra of ‘ism’ will be authoritarianism and nationalism. The big wars of the future are more likely to have roots in ‘clash of egos’ rather than in ‘clash of civilizations’. The future conflicts will also be fought over bread-and-butter issues like climate change, transnational rivers, freedom of seas, trade and epidemics. China will fight one or possibly two major wars before 2035. The first of these could involve either Taiwan or India. If the result of the first war favours China, the second could soon follow. A prolonged conflict may see other countries joining in. A major US–China war may take place before 2035.


’There are three gates to this hell…the gate of lust, the gate of wrath, and the gate of greed’. —Bhagavad Gita (16:21)

The challenge of the coming age will be the next big war, only the timing of it remains uncertain. But why are we assuming there will be a war, that too a big war? Wasn’t there ‘long peace’ after the Second World War? Alas, it was not so, and this claim is flawed on many counts. First, it assumes that if the West was conflict-free, all was well with the world. One has to ask people in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria if they agree with this assessment. Second, peace even in the western world was not the result of a liberal order but a consequence of precarious balance of power between the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War. More than anything else, this peace was the result of a society that was content. This contentment may not continue to last. Another notion popular in the 1990s celebrated democracy as the age of peace. But, in practice, it was largely an aspirational notion. The US, the greatest democracy of our times, has been responsible for initiating most of the wars in recent decades. What we are witnessing now is a new episode of the old truism, that of conflict between a rising challenger and a declining hegemon. This is just as true of the animal kingdom in a jungle as it is in the affairs of men and states. As an ascendant power, China chafes at the rules of the existing order. This, again, is typical in an evolving contest, and it invariably happens when a rising power gains ground on an established power. Consequently, their tensions multiply, leading eventually to conflict. As Thucydides wrote, ‘The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable.’ But the assumption that there will be just one huge, big-bang war is flawed. In fact, there might be variations of this theme with smaller, localized flare-ups before the big one. But in tracing that path, we are venturing into uncharted territory. Experts give great attention to the prediction of extraordinary, black-swan events such as the next financial crises or another earthquake. […]

It needs to move away from its traditionally defensive approach because it is physically impossible for it to guard every inch of the over 6,800-km stretch of borders it shares with China and Pakistan. It must invest in grey zone operations in the enemy areas. It must adopt a whole of government approach in countering threats to its security. Increasingly, India will have to find responses to the ‘cognitive war’ tactics of its enemies. Add to this the possibility of ‘No contact’ warfare and the use of ‘unmanned platforms’ in war. There is no reason to expect that, in any future war with China and/or Pakistan, India will understand their nuclear Rubicon or that the Indian armed forces will not inadvertently cross one or more. India must lessen its economic dependence on China in critical sectors. The US has become an increasingly critical partner for India. But this dependence raises serious questions as to whether it actually enhances India’s strategic imperatives or if it opens up new vulnerabilities. India’s effort should be to create issue-based coalitions. It will have to work with other countries who feel threatened by the overwhelming preponderance of the two great powers and who fear their marginalization in a world of contention and strife.  To add to its list of hurdles, the strategic setting around India does not present a comforting picture. Despite the affinities of culture, ethnicity and history, the modern processes of nation-building have created sharply etched national identities in South Asia. In a thus divided subcontinent, the commonalities have progressively lessened. Against this setting, should India compete with China for dominance of Asia or should it stay focused on its own rise till it is strong enough to compete with it globally? Advisedly, an emerging power should stay focused on building its capacities while cultivating good ties with immediate neighbours, deep engagement with extended neighbours and balancing between great powers. Chinese Dream A major reason why America won the Cold War against the Soviet Union was that the causes it championed enjoyed broad support of people of the world. A US-sponsored resolution against the Soviet interests would invariably win close to two-thirds support of the UN members. Accordingly, in the East–West confrontation, the dice was loaded in America’s favour.

President Reagan captured well the American sentiments when he described the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire’. In contrast, the US still needs to credibly caricature China as a villain. Moreover, most countries want to remain neutral in the geopolitical contest between the US and China. As a result, the US finds itself in an uncomfortable position, where its advantages against China do not appear overwhelming. And by positioning China as its greatest strategic competitor, the US has prematurely ensured an almost equal status to China. Sadly, the American apprehension of losing its hegemony is combined with its fear of China. While there has been a growing sense of catastrophe in the West, what China seeks is a two-step approach. It does not want subordination to the US, but it expects a central role in global leadership. Even if Beijing cannot establish an exclusive Sino-centric world, it will be a relentless and ruthless competitor in its efforts to maximize its wealth, power and influence relative to the US. But China’s goal of ‘displacing’ the US as the world’s leading state is flawed in its ambition and objective. ‘Displace’ does not necessarily mean ‘replace’. […]

There is no guarantee that the US will be able to quickly overwhelm the Chinese army, and the Americans do not relish counting body bags. But it might happen differently because China may not want to start a war over Taiwan, at least not immediately. It is conscious that invading Taiwan may not mean easy victory. On the contrary, its forces might face severe and prolonged resistance. China will also be conscious of the fact that a war over Taiwan is likely to draw in the US, Japan and Australia. That will be a formidable challenge for China because despite its recently acquired military swagger, it knows that they are no pushovers. Therefore, however much Xi is urged by the PLA to sort out early the Taiwan problem, he knows that an invasion would immediately trigger an all-out Taiwanese response. More than half of any Chinese invasion fleet could be sunk by concentrations of shore-based Harpoon cruise missiles supported by a host of Taiwanese air- and sea-launched land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles. China will suffer huge losses in war and spend years trying to pacify Taiwan, militarily and politically. Clearly then, the forcible seizure of Taiwan would impede, not advance China’s goal of regional hegemony. Taiwan, therefore, is not the key that unlocks China’s regional ambitions as the hegemon in Asia. Instead, an invasion of Taiwan could hamper and delay it. Rather than suffer a bloody nose, and the consequent loss of reputation, China is unlikely to start a war over Taiwan unless it is sure it can win. It would then want this war to be a swift operation, leaving America with the least possible time to react. Otherwise, and if the US and other countries get involved, the war will have far more serious dimensions than China may have catered for. Given the uncertainties involved, it is unlikely to launch a Taiwan operation immediately. America’s Indo-Pacific Command optimistically gives a six-year timeline for such an attack: ‘The Taiwanese assess perhaps a three-year time frame before an attack, while US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu considers a military assault in six years to be possible.

So, even as Taiwan remains the prize it covets, China might first opt for a swift victory elsewhere. It need not look far for such a war, one that firmly establishes it as the Asian hegemon. And unlike its multiple contacts with Taiwan, China and India can best be described as distant neighbours. It is a pity that as two great contiguous civilizations, they should know so little about each other. […]

Its presumed role as a counterbalance to China is exaggerated. India’s growth capabilities lack sustained vigour. Its recent diplomacy has made it even less compatible with Chinese interests. China–India relations will need to be so managed that India’s ambitions do not pose a threat to Chinese objectives. To add to these negatives, India’s military relations with China remain delicately poised. The border issue has defied solution for the last 70 years. Their competing ambitions have periodically introduced a sore point. Both aspire for the peak position on a mountain called Asia, but China is in no mood to share that space with India. Rather, China loses no opportunity to pull India down, irritating it further. On its part, if ever India had a strategy of dealing with China, it was one of stalling for time and hoping for the best. China played along but on its terms. India was aware of this steady accretion at its cost, but it preferred to squeeze shut its eyes, expecting thereby that no one in or outside India would discover the loss. […]

According to most experts, there is a serious and growing asymmetrical relationship between China and India. If effective diplomacy is the art of optimizing resources to one’s benefit, then India has miles to go before it can come anywhere close to what China has achieved already. It leads India in all respects—from military to economic; from efficacy of governance to social discipline; from assertive self-confidence to amoral pursuit of goals. India faces negative asymmetries on all these issues. Ideally speaking, both China and India will benefit from cooperation rather than a confrontational relationship (min kursiv). Just one example illustrates the point. It is the expectation of some economists that the middle-class markets in China and India, in 2030, will account for annual expenditures of $14.1 trillion and $12.3 trillion, respectively. The free flow of a part of this large trade between them will benefit not just their people but the wider Asian region as well. However, that seems unlikely as long as their troops remain locked in confrontation at the LAC. [Wikimedia; ”The Line of Actual Control (LAC), in the context of the Sino-Indian border dispute, is a notional demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory”]

”They place India at a disadvantage both in a conventional war and during an escalation to nuclear war. However, this is an unduly pessimistic view. A war with China may be poised more evenly than many think. But if the situation turns really grim for India, it, as a nuclear power, has that final card to play. So far, China’s territorial faits accomplis have been imposing gains at the expense of India without getting into a war. They are limited land grabs on the assumption that India will not risk a larger fight. But the growing friction between India and China could trigger either a major conflict involving potentially destructive escalation or a manageable ‘new normal’ with some small-scale conflicts. […]

Both these possibilities are in the negative category because even a small conflict can quickly escalate into a full-fledged war. Given their stark strategic asymmetries, India has to play a much more cautious and much less risky hand. Yet, India has some cards up its sleeve: In a war, China will not be an automatic winner nor is India a pushover. China might engage in pugnacious behaviour, but it also has its own stakes to protect. By antagonizing India beyond a point, it risks instigating reactions from India that affect China’s interests. A conflict with a large country like India will have consequences even in its relations with other countries. Any willingness on India’s part to respond forcefully to China would be welcomed in the US, where successive administrations have sought to integrate India into America’s Indo-Pacific strategy. This does not mean the US will promptly jump into the fray. A president like Biden is more likely to mull over the issue till it is late. India will do well to note what a former American Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote about him, ‘(Biden) has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.’(min kursiv) Moreover, there are practical issues to contend with. The logistics of moving American troops and equipment to the Himalayan mountains, and acclimatizing the troops to those heights, would be a time-consuming affair. On the other hand, the idea of pre-positioning them, in anticipation, would be political dynamite in India. Therefore, when this war breaks out, India could well be reminded that the US has 47 treaty allies, and it is not one of them. It is more likely to be given moral encouragement through strong diplomacy, and it may even be transferred defence equipment as per its needs, but American military force is unlikely to be readily deployed to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Indian Army against China. […]

Worse still are the allegations that the US pushed Ukraine into an unnecessary war with Russia, where it watched from the sidelines. The war will cripple Ukraine and damage Russia. But it will also send scarring ripples across the world, including wheat shortages, food inflation and rising oil prices. Moreover, the barrage of Western sanctions against Russia is unprecedented in its scope and severity against a permanent member of the UNSC [FN:s säkerhetsråd]. These economic measures, wielded savagely, aim to cut Russia off from the world’s financial arteries. They are powerful, but they also signal that the West is unwilling to meet a nuclear adversary on the battlefield. It is against the background of multiple doubts that new questions are being asked about the US’s strategic intentions. US’s miscalculations in its recent wars, and a string of presidents ranging from pacifist Obama to unpredictable but war-risk-averse Trump to vacillating Biden, have not helped either […]

Biden declared from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that henceforth diplomacy will replace war in America’s global engagements. He may have said so to paper over his Afghan blunder, but he forgets that ideological contests between countries are zero-sum in nature. If your rival is evil, compromise becomes appeasement. This is particularly the case when diplomacy aims to manage competition through compromise, conciliation and the search for common ground. The Lonely Gun Even if war is not inevitable in international affairs, preparation for war is necessary to avoid it. If India appears ill-prepared for war, the awareness of its purpose will be marked by a big doubt. Given this background, and the US’s current vacillation in readily joining other peoples’ war, India may find itself wielding a lonely gun in its next big confrontation. That major flare-up could start with Pakistan and may draw in China, or it could be the other way round. Unlike a single-front war, many unknowns lurk here: Pakistan and China are building capabilities that give them the benefit of surprise to impose their will. With cyber weapons and long-range conventional strike capabilities, they have the option of controlling escalation. Pakistan is more likely to choose nuclear escalation if it perceives that India can significantly degrade its conventional operations. In a war with Pakistan, India may not anticipate correctly Pakistan’s nuclear ‘red lines’. It could also happen the other way round, where Pakistan makes the misjudgment, Pakistan could employ chemical weapons and/or tactical weapons against the Indian Army in a future war. But the Indian Army may not be fully prepared to absorb their shock use. India needs capabilities that can blunt this aggression. It also needs to device credible options for threatening retaliation and escalation to deter the adversary and its escalatory options.

Just as Pakistan assumes that China will be at its side, Xi can confidently factor in that Pakistan will be its military aide in a battle with India. As for Russia, it may be China’s current brother, but it has been India’s friend over decades. In war, it might steer clear of taking sides. Therefore, it may pass on a few critical items to India and intelligence information to China. Whatever the ultimate alliances and partnerships, the consequences of an Indo-China war will be bad enough, but with Pakistan joining in, it will be the stuff of nightmares for India. Pakistani generals are aggressive by training and impulsive by nature. The fact that they are not constrained by a political leadership, which could raise a restraining finger, makes it likely that they would be quick to nuclear rage. The question that follows is: will they use tactical nuclear weapons first or will they decide to drop the nuclear bomb? Regardless of what they choose, once a nuclear weapon has been used, its devastation could either stun the three sides to a pause or it may lead to the larger war, with Russia and the US joining in. Will that signal the beginning of a much larger conflagration that will also draw in Japan, Australia, some European countries and Taiwan to fight on India’s side? It could also mean others like Iran, North Korea and Turkey lining up to be with the China–Pakistan combine. Hopefully, this scary scenario will not happen because it is incendiary combinations like this that can lead to an inferno, a step short of the feared apocalypse. It is either that or the rest could decide to play it safe and watch India fight a two-front war, while they counsel restraint. Mercifully for the world, and despite the war in Ukraine, other regions do not present an alarming picture on a global scale.