Indo-Pacific enters Asian Security Affairs Lexicon, Officially!

Exercise Malabar 2014 (Pic Courtesy: Thanh Nien News)

In his 2007 speech to the august house of Indian parliamentarians, Japanese President Shinzo Abe was first to moot the idea of “Confluence of Two Oceans” taking a leaf from the book “The confluence of two Oceans” (Majma-ul-Bahrayn) compiled by the Mughal Prince Dara Shukoh in 1655. The confluence continued its momentum, incubating the minds of strategists and the officials of both countries with its re-emergence in 2012, with Mr. Abe ascendance to Japan’s helm of affairs. Since then a lot has been done to rethink the Asian security equation with India at one end of the pole and the U.S at the other, while Japan continues to be the part of the security fulcrum. But officially, it is on 18th December 2017, the confluence of two oceans modified as Indo-Pacific entered the lexicon of Asian security affairs with its debut in the U.S national security strategy 2018.

National Security Strategy 2018 unveiled by the U.S President Donald Trump envisaged and acknowledged India’s growing role in the Asia-Pacific, its emergence as a leading global power, and the net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region as the gradual confluence of two oceans i.e Indian Ocean and Pacific Sea takes place in policy-making circles. This is the continuation of the trend set by former President Barack Obama and his team, especially by the former Secy. of Def. Ashton Carter who was instrumental in setting up Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) and acceptance of India as America’s Major Defense Partner.

The document affirms the revival of Quadrilateral Dialogue (India, Australia, Japan, United States), subtly support rearmament of Japan, categorical in reprimanding Pakistan’s Deep State and is surprisingly pointing at China and her aggressive politico-military-economic aid programs and military manoeuvres in the South China Sea. Also, it expresses concern over the potentially destabilizing effect the Chinese investments and foreign policy have unleashed and would continue to do so across various sovereign governments in the region and the soft coercion capability they bear.

Interesting enough, that in the recently concluded Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, naval chiefs from the QUAD countries together pulled up the show by alluding to the aggressive military manoeuvres by Chinese navy (PLAN) in South and East China sea as well their increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region. So much so that, the US PACOM Commander Adm. Harris B Jr. referred to China as a “disruptive transitional force” in the region. Separately, in his speech to the august gathering, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Chief Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano called for convergence between the navies of quad countries to protect sea lanes of communication and prevent any unilateral change to status quo taking place in south and east china sea. Moreover, the Australian naval Chief Tim Barrett, urged to provide a framework for cooperation among the like-minded countries to better synergize the resources towards a common objective. This is a welcome tone for Indian policymakers. The broad strategy is in place making of Indo-Pacific enter the lexicon of Asian security affairs and set the stage for diplomatic, economic and military manoeuvres in Asia.

(Written on 19/12/2017)

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