To strengthen a trilateral alliance amid rising tensions with China, Russia and North Korea in the Indo-Pacific region, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin received his Australian and Japanese counterparts at the US Indo-Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii on Saturday. Notably absent from this arrangement is a key member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) alliance – India.
Washington has long positioned New Delhi as a key member of the democratic QUAD alliance, a partner in containing Beijing’s growth and aggression in the Asia-Pacific region. However, India’s independent foreign policy position has led to growing unease between Washington and New Delhi, despite Western pressure following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
At the start of his trilateral meeting with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles and Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Saturday, Austin said: “For decades, our three democracies have worked side by side as anchors for stability and prosperity in and around the Indo-Pacific Globe.”
The three countries share common values and common goals, the US Secretary of Defense said, noting that “this vision is threatened by autocratic countries that peddle disinformation and defy international rules and rely on coercion and intimidation.”
“We are deeply concerned by China’s increasingly aggressive and bullying behavior in the Taiwan Strait and elsewhere in the region,” he added.
The defense ministers of Australia and Japan expressed similar sentiments, speaking about the strategic alignment and deep affection between the three countries in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine, China’s attempts to change the status quo in the Asia-Pacific region and developments in North Korea .
Interestingly, the meeting came just a day after India, along with China, Gabon and Brazil, abstained on a draft resolution tabled by the US and Albania at the UN Security Council. The resolution condemned Russia’s “illegal” referendum and annexation of four Ukrainian territories and called for an immediate cessation of violence.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the US has been trying to pressure India to reduce its dependence on Russian military equipment and convince it that the Russia-China axis is not good for India. Although the US-India partnership has grown in recent years, New Delhi remains suspicious of Washington as a long-term reliable and trustworthy partner.
Despite pressure from the West, India has attempted to take an independent position on both the war in Ukraine and Chinese maneuvers in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on a context-specific approach to dealing with Russia and China and the expectations of New Delhi would be a strong US ally in the region.
Washington has failed to dissuade New Delhi from Moscow, which is a key defense partner and from which India continues to source oil despite Western sanctions efforts. Similarly, India has attempted to pursue a diplomatic course with China, amid all its baiting over Taiwan, to resolve its own border differences with Beijing.
Although QUAD is not an Asian alternative to NATO, India is a very important part of any democratic partnership the US wants to build in the region. Without New Delhi, such an alliance would immediately lose the “Indo” in the “Indo-Pacific” and thus lose weight and credibility in Asia.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/us-australia-japan-push-democratic-defense-alliance-india-missing-1839044?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution US, Australia and Japan push for democratic defense alliance; India is absent