Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 532

Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 532

Another grouping: On AUKUS

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In its first reaction to AUKUS, the new partnership between Australia, the U.S. and the U.K., India has made it clear that it does not welcome the announcement, nor does it wish to link AUKUS to Indian interests. Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said that AUKUS, which was launched a week before the first in-person summit of leaders of the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Quadrilateral, will not affect plans to strengthen ( make or become stronger ) the Quad. He called them two very different groupings, describing AUKUS as a security alliance ( a union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations ), and indicating that security is not the Quad’s main focus.

Brushing aside criticism ( the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes ) from China and Iran on the plans within the partnership for the U.S. and the U.K. to develop nuclear-propelled ( drive or push something forwards ) submarines for Australia, he said that India does not see AUKUS as nuclear proliferation ( rapid increase in the number or amount of something ). But New Delhi has noticed the protests from others, especially France, that has lost a lucrative ( producing a great deal of profit ) submarine deal in the bargain, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to reach out to their French counterparts.

France has recalled its Ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia, accusing them of betrayal ( the action of betraying one’s country, a group, or a person; treachery ; disloyalty ) by negotiating their defence partnership with the U.K., and without informing European allies. The EU and ASEAN countries have been reserved in their reactions. U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have now spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron, but it remains to be seen whether the damage to ties can be reversed.

Given the different reactions and widespread impact of the AUKUS partnership, India’s non-committal note is not surprising. There are two sides to it. The promising possibilities of the alliance include strengthening the Quad’s agenda to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive. The alliance could also extend itself to bolstering ( support or strengthen ) the Quad’s efforts on maritime exercises, security and efforts in countering COVID-19, climate change, cooperating on critical technologies, and building resilient ( able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions ) supply chains.

More broadly, the U.S.’s three-fold messaging on AUKUS seems to be in line with India’s hopes: that “America is back” after four years of retrenchment ( the reduction of costs or spending in response to economic difficulty ) from global issues; is as engaged with its Indo-Pacific flank ( be on each or on one side of ) as it is with its Transatlantic ( crossing the Atlantic ) flank, and is focused on partnerships with fellow democracies in particular. But the concerns over AUKUS are considerable too: that the timing of the announcement of the deal just before the Quad leaders meet could overshadow the latter, and also signal that the U.S. is relegating ( assign an inferior rank or position to ) the Quad to less substantive ( having a firm basis in reality and so important, meaningful, or considerable ) issues in the Indo-Pacific.

With the sudden announcement of AUKUS, a worry for New Delhi is that the U.S. is now promoting a security partnership with its “Anglo-Saxon” treaty allies ( combine or unite a resource or commodity with (another) for mutual benefit ) that it is excluded from, possibly upsetting the balance of power in the region, and setting off new tensions to India’s east, adding to the substantial ( of considerable importance, size, or worth ) turbulence ( a state of conflict or confusion ) in India’s west caused by the developments in Afghanistan.

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