FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Great Game in the Asia-Pacific

by DEEPAK TRIPATHI

On April 19, India tested its first inter-continental ballistic missile, named Agni-V, and joined the select group of nations possessing both nuclear weapons and a delivery system capable of hitting targets across continents. Only a few days before, nuclear capable North Korea had test fired a rocket, supposedly to place a satellite in the orbit, but it failed.

Within days, India’s long-time adversary, Pakistan, tested a more advance version of its Shaheen-1 missile. Named Shaheen-1A, it is capable of hitting targets between 2000 and 3000 miles––a substantially upgraded intermediate-range ballistic missile. Before the latest launch, Pakistan’s longest-range missile, Shaheen II, was thought to have a range of less than 1500 miles.

The North Korean attempt brought strong condemnation from the United States and its allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama administration announced a ban on food aid to Communist North Korea, an ally of China. Pyongyang immediately said that it was no longer bound by the agreement to refrain from its nuclear program. The expectation in Washington is that North Korea will now conduct another rocket or even a nuclear test, its third since October 2006.

Reaction to India’s first ICBM test was different from that after North Korea’s unsuccessful rocket launch. The Indian missile is not something China can ignore. The Chinese are ahead of the Indians in the nuclear and space race by a decisive
margin. Beijing has the capability of hitting targets anywhere in the world. It has had the atomic bomb since 1964 and the hydrogen bomb since 1967. It tested its first inter-continental ballistic missile four years later.

Today, China’s Dong Feng-41 missile has a range almost three times greater than the 3500 mile range of India’s latest missile. In all important respects, India is still in the Second Division of the nuclear league. Delhi hopes that further tests of Agni-V will enable the country to implement its nuclear deterrence in two years. Once the latest missiles are in operation, they will launch India into the First Division.

Notwithstanding the celebratory mood in India over the success of its missile test, the recent overall trend will be seen as an intensification of the arms race in the Asia-Pacific region. Whereas the North Korean nuclear and missile programs have caused upset in South Korea, Japan and Washington, India’s Agni-V is unwelcome to China and Pakistan. It is hardly surprising that the Chinese response was filled with warning and ridicule.

Pointing at its superior firepower, the Chinese media called Agni-V a “political missile” and mocked it as being “dwarf.” Beijing warned that “India should not overestimate its strength.” And the Global Times accused “vested interests” of promoting an arms race between neighbors.

The United States reacted with an unusual degree of calm and understanding on India’s entry into the league of nations possessing inter-continental ballistic missiles. President Obama had recently proclaimed Asia-Pacific as the new focus of American strategy, indicating it to be a logical necessity to depart from the grinding wars of the Bush administration and counter China and North Korea in the future. Reacting to the Agni-V’s launch, a State Department spokesman called for “restrain” and, at the same time, praised India’s solid “non-proliferation record.”

With China continuing to build its naval and air presence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and others striving to stay in the game, the race for influence among Asian powers is a reality. The West, led by the United States, eyes India as its long-term ally with a view to countering China. As the American administration continues its attempts to lure India into an ever closer alliance, Delhi is not wholly willing to oblige. Washington’s offer to help India develop a “missile shield” is one significant issue between them. Then there are diverging views on relations with Iran causing tension between Delhi and Washington.

The arena of the new Great Game is Asia-Pacific. The race is complicated in a unipolar world, but the trend is clear. India’s intention to close the gap with China is welcomed by the West in general and the United States in particular. Pakistan is determined to stay close to India’s military might whereas China will want to maintain its supremacy.

Deepak Tripathi was the BBC Afghanistan correspondent in the early 1990s. His works can be found at http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com and he can be reached at: dandatripathi@gmail.com.




Deepak Tripathi is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. His works can be found at: http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com and he can be reached at deepak.tripathi.writer@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail