In its national security strategy, the Biden administration said that China was the only power that wanted to change the international order and had the power to do so. This made it clear that beating China and stopping Russia were the top priorities.
Released Wednesday, the first national security strategy released by the Biden administration since taking office, mentions the centrality of the Indo-Pacific as the world’s most important region and highlights the need to connect America’s allies and partners in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. , and refers to India as a key partner.
“As India is the world’s largest democracy and an important defense partner, the United States, and India will work together, bilaterally and multilaterally, to support our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the strategy says. It also talks about the different multilateral and plurilateral groups that India and the US are both members of.
Decisive decade, fundamental pillars
In a conversation with reporters ahead of the document’s release, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said this was a “decisive decade” for the world.
In this period, the strategy says, “The terms of geopolitical competition between the main powers will be established.” The window of opportunity to deal with shared threats like climate change will shrink dramatically. The actions we take now will determine whether this period is known as an era of conflict and discord or the beginning of a more stable and prosperous future. “
The document says that “the post-Cold War era is definitely over” and that competition is underway among the major powers to shape what comes next, even as people around the world struggle to cope. the effects of shared challenges, be it climate, food insecurity, disease, terrorism, energy, or inflation.
“The core elements of what the United States needs to do in both are the same.” Invest in the underlying sources and tools of American power and influence. We need to put together the strongest possible group of countries to increase our ability to shape the global strategic environment and solve problems we all face. “Set the rules of the game so that the international order continues to reflect our values and is better designed,” Sullivan said.
The US national security strategy has six key pillars.
One of these includes one: breaking down the dividing line between foreign and domestic policy by investing in innovation and industrial strength at home; two, prioritizing alliances and partnerships as the US’s “most important strategic asset” and connecting allies and democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific and Europe as “mutually reinforcing” and the fate of two regions cannot be divorced; three, recognizing China as America’s “most important geopolitical challenger”; four, engaging with countries on their own terms rather than seeing them solely through the prism of strategic competition; five, adjusting the old patterns of globalization and charting new economic arrangements; and six, building a community of nations that share America’s vision for the future of the international order, from Quad and AUKUS (The USA) in western Asia and the European Union.
The strategy distinguishes between the challenges posed by China and Russia. The US said that Russia was an “immediate threat to the free and open international system” because it broke the basic rules of the current international order with no regard for the consequences. This was shown by Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.
But it didn’t have China’s full range of abilities. According to the national security strategy document, “China is the only competitor that wants to change the international order and is getting more and more of the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”
The strategy said that Beijing had “the ambition to create an enhanced sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and become the world’s leading power.”
The US then lays out the various ways in which it sees Beijing as a challenge. It is using its technological capacity and its growing influence over international institutions to create more permissive conditions for its own authoritarian model and shape the use and norms of global technology to privilege its interests and values. Beijing frequently uses its economic power to coerce countries. It benefits from the opening of the international economy while limiting access to its domestic market, and seeks to make the world more dependent on the PRC while reducing its own dependence on the world. “
China, the US noted, was also investing in a rapidly modernizing military that was increasingly capable in the Indo-Pacific and growing in strength and reach globally, while seeking to erode US alliances. in the US in the region and around the world. She added that countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe had “clear eyes” on the threat posed by China.
He added that the United States will hold Beijing accountable for abuses: “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, human rights violations in Tibet, and the dismantling of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms,” while reiterating his traditional opposition. to any unilateral change in Taiwan. straits.
Reiterating China’s strategy laid out by Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this year, the document says the US will seek to invest in the foundation of the force at home, align efforts with the network of allies and partners, and “compete responsibly”.
The Indo-Pacific and India
In this context, the US has said that its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific continue to be on the “front line of the core of the PRC soon and are rightly determined to try to ensure their own autonomy, security, and prosperity”. The United States will support its ability to make “sovereign decisions” in line with its interests and values, “free from external pressure,” and will work to provide investment, development assistance, and markets at a high level and scale.
The United States said it had a vital interest in the realization of an Indo-Pacific region that is “open, interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient.” It will work to ensure that countries are free to make their own decisions. “We will stand up for the freedom of the seas and build regional support for open access to the South China Sea, which is a route for about a quarter of all world trade and two-thirds of all trade that takes place by the sea.”
The strategy talks about the treaty alliances that the US has with Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. It also says that ASEAN is the most important group. He agrees that the US will have to be in the Indo-Pacific during this time more than at any other time since World War II. “No region will be more important to the world and to ordinary Americans than the Indo-Pacific.”
In this context, the document refers to South Asia. “As we work with regional partners in South Asia to address climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the coercive behavior of the People’s Republic of China, we will promote prosperity and economic connectivity throughout the Indian Ocean region.” The Quad and AUKUS will be instrumental in addressing regional challenges, and we will further bolster our collective strength by uniting our allies and partners, including fostering closer ties between like-minded European and Indo-Pacific countries.” This is also where the document speaks of India as the world’s largest democracy and America’s leading defense partner.
India also figures into other parts of the national security strategy, either directly or indirectly.
Referring to the G7 as the “steering committee of the world’s advanced industrial democracies”, the strategy says that the G7 is stronger when it also formally engages “other countries with aligned goals” in this context, it refers to the 2022 summit where Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa, and Ukraine participated.
The strategy uses the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as an example of an “inclusive coalition” and says that it will set the rules for an “economically vital region and, by extension, the global economy.” India has joined three of the four pillars under the framework
The “revitalized Quad,” the strategy says, has helped address regional challenges and “demonstrated its ability to meet the Indo-Pacific, combat COVID-19 and climate change to deepen cybersecurity partnerships and promote high standards for infrastructure and health security”.
It’s not a cold war
The document acknowledges that parts of the world are “uneasy” with competition between the United States and the world’s largest autocracies.
“We understand these concerns. We also want to avoid a world where competition becomes a world of rigid blocks. We are not looking for a conflict or a new Cold War. Rather, we are trying to support all countries, regardless of size or strength, to exercise the freedom to make decisions that serve their interests.”
It adds that the United States will seek to manage the competition responsibly seeking greater strategic stability to reduce the risk of unwanted military escalation. It also identifies climate, pandemic threats, nonproliferation, combating illicit and illegal narcotics, the global food crisis, and macroeconomic issues as potential areas for collaboration.
AUTHOR: Prashant Jha.