The formation of AUKUS and India’s Quad Conundrum have become a heated discussion in the international forums lately.
The Quad concept was first floated in 2007 by Japanese ex-prime minister Shinzo Abe, possibly out of China fear. During the first decade of the 21st century, the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) members (Australia, Japan, India, and the USA) were mesmerised to make economic connectivity with China, as such, the Quad idea went into hibernation despite some progress.
But after a decade, none but all Quad members turned into adversaries to China. When the USA started to realize that rising China posed a credible challenge to the USA’s global hegemony, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, the Quad idea again got started to reinvigorate after 2017. China remained at loggerheads with all the Quad countries which became more evident during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was too late to understand the Communist Party of China played the strategy so successfully that the Quad countries remained preoccupied to fight their respective old enemies, and at the same time, China, covertly, brought a chasm among the Quad countries.
India remained obsessed with Pakistan’s terrorist threats, and the USA remained engaged with North Korea and Iran over the nuclear threat. Moreover, the West saw the rise of some despotic leaders in the Middle East as their main threat that led AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) to persuade the USA and its allies to attack Iraq in an unjust war in 2003. Even India didn’t allow Australia to participate in the Malabar Naval Exercise, which is considered as part of the Quad activity.
The USA was late to appreciate who the real enemy was. When Joe Biden came to power, he called in the first-ever Quad leaders’ level virtual summit in March 2021 that drew the world’s attention to Quad. Regrettably, the meeting outcome couldn’t give a clear direction of Quad’s purpose. Quad members and strategic thinkers have shown mixed reactions over the success of Quad.
India was very happy to see the revitalization of Quad as it became a moral support for India to counter China. However, India’s continued relation with Russia and buying S-400 missile system from Russia despite the US’s warning, and also rise of extremism degrading the human rights within India, the USA, possibly, remained skeptical over the consensus action of Quad. China knew it well and planned her strategy accordingly to counter Quad.
Amidst these heightened uncertainties, on 15 September 2021, the USA announced a new alliance called AUKUS (Australia, the UK, the USA) that reverberated the whole world. It aroused huge discussion among the strategists where India appeared forlorn and desolate. The USA aimed to create credible deterrence that became evident as China has slammed AUKUS as “highly irresponsible” and said it could trigger a nuclear arms race.
The AUKUS members are all-weather-tested friends being the same family of Anglo-Saxon like Five-Eyes countries of intelligence alliance. The AUKUS countries will now have more confidence in sharing hi-tech equipment which the USA would not share with India. Till now the USA shared nuclear-powered technology with the UK only. India is likely to watch the perplexing development of AUKUS from the sideline where the importance of Quad would be debilitating as a consequential result of the rise of AUKUS.
The USA’s grand strategy is to control and maintain its hegemony over the entire region of Indo-Pacific through Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) which has been challenged by rising China. China’s continued assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region mainly in the South China Sea would likely compel the USA to act as a bellwether of AUKUS at the same time maintaining the ties with allied littoral countries of the Indo-Pacific region, where India would have insignificant opportunity to contribute.