CRACKS IN THE BRICS?August 22, 2013
Mr. S.D. has been sending me some interesting articles, and some of them concern a quiet and little-noticed arms buildup going on in Asia, the western Pacific, and Indian oceans, and part of that buildup concerns Japan, and the other, India. The latter of course is one of the nations that is part of the BRICSA coalition, the lose arrangement of countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - that has grown out of the Shanghai accords. You won't have noticed this arms race, because the western lamestream media are too busy talking about....well, next to nothing.
Before we get to the arms race, however, it's worth noting some basic geopolitical and historical realities, both bearing on the ad hoc nature of the BRICSA coalition. India's history within the orbit of the Anglosphere, and more specifically, within the British Empire, is well known. Historical ties die hard, and India's occasional brushes with China are well known and a matter of recent history. India is, as the cliche has it, the "world's largest democracy," and China and Russia of course are two old cultures with equally long memories and habits, those having little direct experience with democracy or the fictions of "limited government" that have informed civics textbooks. India's presence within the BRICSA coalition, like Brazil's and South Africa's, is a presence that should indicate that the geopolitical realities of the world have changed profoundly since the end of the Cold War; India's presence within that coalition would seem to signal more a fear of run-amok American or Anglosphere corruption and unipolarity than anything else. If recent military expeditions, Middle East uprisings, financial corruption, and unprecedented electronic snooping are any indicator, those suspicions and fears would appear to be well-founded. India is in the delicate position of having to balance its cordial relations with Russia - a legacy of Mrs. Ghandi's era to some extent - and its frequent clashes with China on the one hand, and its relationship to the Anglosphere and the west via its key role in the British Empire on the other.
Japan is the other country involved in what I am perhaps misnaming "the new arms race," but misnomers or no, the role of Japan in recent western geopolitics is a murky one. Opened to the west by the USA, Japan quickly industrialized, or perhaps it is better to say, was quickly industrialized. British naval expertise from Vickers and Armstrong was quickly imported, and after one or two battleships built in British shipyards and careful copying of British technology and naval tradition, Japan was soon building her own battleships and skilled naval officer corps and admiralty, which proved its lethal effectiveness during the Russo-Japanese War. Similarly, seeking the best of the best, Japan mimicked and adopted the best in land tactics of the day through skillful liaisons with the USA, UK, and Imperial Germany. In short, Japan was intended to be the catspaw for the west, keeping in check the real "yellow horde" of concern to Anglosphere geopoliticians: the looming juggernaut of China, which was drugged and fragmented into competing warlords, while Japan grew. As we have often conjectured here, steps were being made in Asia to bury the hatchet between China and Japan... until that "warning" from then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Fukushima.
All this is background to these intriguing articles:
What this suggests is first, that India's position within the BRICSA coalition is wobbly at best, and that Japan continues to function as a satrapy for the Anglosphere.
But it also suggests something else may be afoot for the long term, especially as these events and launches occur within the timeframe of the USA's tilt to the Pacific, and reorientation of its strategic posture to Asia and into a more confrontational role with China and Russia. Chinese and Russian naval power are confronted by the colossus of American naval power... but with a buildup by India, and a full scale naval rearmament by Japan, which has yet to flex anything near its capability in this respect, and these two countries become the countries able to tip the balance of power in the Pacific and Indian oceans one way or another, and I suspect the planners in New Delhi and Tokyo know it.
Thus, watch as the fun begins, as more and more strange combinations of "joint naval and military exercises" occur...Russia and China are givens, but watch for Japan-USA, or Japan-India, or India-Russia, or (my personal favorite), Japan-Russia-South Korea, and watch for all sorts of creative explanations for these exercises: "regional security arrangements", "joint anti-piracy exercises" and all sorts of nonsense. The real goings-on will be demonstrations and assessments of each other's capabilities.
The other significant thing to watch, in the next few years - particularly in Japan's case - is how these new ships are named: this particular carrier is the second ship within Imperial Japan's history since World War II to bear that name, the first being a WW2 heavy cruiser(and if one goes back to the Russo-Japanese War, there was a cruiser Izumo in the IJN during that conflict). If Japan starts naming its new carriers things like Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu or Soryu, then that's a message folks...
In short, watch this one carefully folks, for we're watching new geopolitical realities unfold before our eyes.
See you on the flip side.