Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Friends With Benefits to Be Defined Later

While America and India will draw closer together militarily, I think this author is right that India will never be a full ally of America in an openly anti-China alliance, preferring to hedge their bets. Unless India's situation deteriorates a whole lot.


My contention is that India is likely to form both a soft-balancing coalition, relying on diplomacy and institutional cooperation, and a limited hard-balancing coalition, that is, strategic partnerships short of formal alliances. But an outright alliance with the United States is very improbable. The recently concluded U.S.-India “two-plus-two” meeting of foreign and defense ministers and secretaries suggests that the path toward a limited hard-balancing coalition may be opening despite many remaining hurdles. Whether a limited U.S.-India hard-balancing coalition progresses toward an outright hard-balancing alliance will depend heavily on China’s behavior, especially the threat level it poses to India in the years to come.

Part of this hedging, I think, is because the Himalaya Mountains are a wall that reduces the threat from China of actually conquering India. Without that kind of existential threat, India has reason to look to America just in case, but to try to improve relations with China, too, to avoid automatically suffering collateral damage if America and China fight.

Indeed, India very recently scaled back plans to build a new mountain strike corps for their northeast to oppose China. If India doesn't think the land threat justifies that effort, they surely don't think they need America to hold off China short of major conquests, eh?