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Sunday, December 29, 2013

India and Japan: Natural Allies

Vivek Sengupta has an article detailing the increasing economic and political ties between Japan and India.  The two are natural allies as they have a common enemy (China) and increasingly a common ally and superpower patron (the United States). They are also both rising naval powers with New Delhi and Tokyo both expanding their navies in order to better safeguard the sea lanes of communication and counter Beijing's expansionist claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea. India has a common land border with China, but as it is along the high-altitude Tibet plateau, it is not something that India can really use as a pressure point against China. But otherwise the Indian-Japanese partnership has much in common with the Entente Cordiale between France and Russia before World War I. And today Washington plays the same role that London played a century ago.

In the article Sengupta talks about a strategic quadrangle of Canberra, New Delhi, Tokyo and Washington. In this quadrangle Australia can be compared to the British overseas Empire in World War I: Canada, Australia and South Africa. That is Australia is the natural junior partner of the United States in keeping the balance of power between China on one hand and the countries of South East Asia and East Asia that have territorial disputes with Beijing. The quadrangle is a concept of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Here is an article, which establishes the many limitations on Indian power.  Because of its large relatively-poor rural population, its urban working-class population, and its lack of a sophisticated domestic arms industry India today resembles Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is why India needs an Asian France to help counter the rise of an Asian Germany. 

As with the Soviet Union in Europe during the Cold War, China today has few willing local allies. China's main source of potential allies are countries, like North Korea and Burma, that are economically dependent on it. Do not expect another great war to break out tomorrow, but do expect New Delhi and Tokyo to tighten their linkages and expect India to improve its ties to the United States. This will occur naturally as Washington's ties to Islamabad sour over Pakistan's activities in Afghanistan. As the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of Pakistan continues to act in a way that make it a de facto enemy of the United States rather than an ally in the "global war on terror," Washington will see its way to increase its ties with India. Kashmir will lessen in importance.

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