In the event of any hostility with China, India will have to fight two-front war because Pakistan also has assembled a sizeable number of troops and military assets in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, writes Susmit Kumar for South Asia Monitor
During the first half of the last century, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler wanted to create the Third Reich, a super colonial power, which would rule over the world for a thousand years. But it lasted only for thirteen years because Hitler was trying to turn back the clock as colonialism was in its last phase. Instead of creating a super colonial power, Hitler destroyed colonialism as within a few decades of World War II, nearly all the colonies in Asia and Africa obtained independence. After World War II and ensuing Cold War, both US-led Western countries and the Soviet Union did not occupy landmass to rule over, but instead opted to install local puppets, sometimes by military means, as rulers.
China and its expansionist tendencies
Chinese President Xi Jinping is both a Joseph Stalin (Soviet leader) and Hitler in the making. In China, the repression in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country can be said to be Stalin-like behavior. Under Xi, China has already committed Hitler's Nazi Germany-like crimes (annexation of Czechoslovakia and then Poland) by the annexation of the entire South China Sea. And now they have landed in Ladakh. Like Hitler, Xi is also trying to turn back the clock. China is the only nation in the world which has a border dispute with nearly all its neighbors - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Hence, the world powers will be in their right to declare war against it. In 2016, the Philippines had won a case against China against Nine-Dash-Line in an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Winter is fast approaching in Ladakh where the Chinese army has said to have annexed several mountain peaks, which belonged to India since 1962, and constructed the fortification there. These peaks overlook the newly constructed important all-weather Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road which connects India’s remote military camp to the capital of Ladakh. Although India has already assembled a nearly similar number of army troops and military assets, including a significant number of aircraft, as China has in the same sector, it is futile for New Delhi to wait because the ball is in its court, i.e. India has to take the next step. In the event of any hostility with China, India will have to fight two-front war because Pakistan also has assembled a sizeable number of troops and military assets in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Before the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi went to attack Pakistan in December 1971 to stop the genocide of Bengali-speaking Muslims at the hands of Urdu-speaking West Pakistani army in East Pakistan, she opted to sign the 20-year Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, a treaty signed between India and the Soviet Union in August 1971. She did it mainly to thwart any Chinese attack on India to make it a two-front war for India and also against any US intervention. When the then US President Richard Nixon ordered the US Seventh Fleet led by the USS Enterprise, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier into the Bay of Bengal to threaten India to withdraw its offensive against East Pakistan, the Soviet Navy dispatched nuclear submarines and other surface ships to trail the Seventh Fleet. But the Indian army was able to force inept Pakistan’s army to surrender in just 13 days before the US Seventh Fleet could even arrive anywhere near the Bay of Bengal.
India must shed neutral image
India, under Narendra Modi administration, needs to shed its neutral image and sign a defense treaty with the US. Right now the US will not like to directly intervene in India’s effort in evicting China from the land it has occupied in Ladakh. But it is in the interests of the US that China should be stopped as it will be a step towards the eviction of China from its occupation of the South China Sea. On its own India may or may not be able to evict China from the occupied land. Hence the US needs to help India because failure is not an option. It will be in the interest of the US and other Western countries to not let India down against China because if India goes down, Beijing will be an unstoppable military power not only in Asia but in the entire world, and the US will not be able to confront China on its own. The US was in the same predicament before the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II and hence it supplied arms and ammunition to its allies, UK and even to the Soviet Union, under Lend-Lease Policy.
Other than the Indo-US Defense Treaty, there is a need for a new Lend-Lease Policy which will allow India to lease military assets, like aircraft from the US, for a few months for use. The US can start training the Indian Air Force personnel on stealth aircraft and say after a month, they can use it against China to drop precision-guided bombs on mountain peaks in Ladakh.
Apart from this, the US needs to provide Patriot missile batteries and THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to India only for the duration of the dispute, in the same way, as the US provided Patriot missile batteries to Saudi Arabia after series of attack on Saudi oil facilities. After signing the defense treaty with the US, the Indian Navy needs to join alongside the US and UK naval forces to patrol the South China Sea. They should extend the treaty to include countries like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam to create an Asian NATO having an important goal to liberate the South China Sea from China.
(The writer is an author and strategic analyst based in Washington DC. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)