SPEAKING OF QUADRUPLE ENTENTE… JAPAN’S PIVOTAL ROLESeptember 9, 2020
Yesterday I blogged about Israel's recent decision not to sell its AWACs system to Communist China, and to sell it to India, as a bit of confirmation about my hypothesis that we're watching the emergence of the formation of a quadruple entente in Asia and the Western Pacific. I've been entertaining this idea of a "quadruple entente" ever since the unsuccessful Chinese border incursion into India. Not surprisingly, this incursion provoked a rather "firm" response from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mohdi, and it looks like whatever good will China managed to build with that, and other, countries in the Shanghai accords or "BRICS" nations is all but squandered now. India is putting on hold its own component of China's silk road project, and to put the whole matter country simple, the BRICS nations of the 2010s are a thing of the past. They're "so yesterday."
With that context in mind, it looks like others are seeing the emergence of this "quadruple entente" as well, according to this article shared by K.M.:
What's of note here is that my hypothesis of a "quadruple entente" could become an actual formal agreement, rather than merely an understanding that "China is the problem", but, there is a twist, and it's a big one, and its a profound hint at the key and pivotal role Japan plays in all of this:
Australia, America, Japan, and India could formalise their quadrilateral strategic security ties at an in-person ministerial meeting in Delhi in the coming weeks.
Attending an online seminar at the annual U.S.—India Strategic Partnership Forum on Aug. 31, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. State Department Stephen Biegun said the Indo-Pacific was lacking strong multilateral structures.
Known colloquially as the Quad, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) was first formed in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It has since met on a semi-regular basis to discuss regional economic issues and hold joint military drills like the Malabar Exercises in India.
Predominantly an informal strategic forum for the four liberal democracies over the past 13 years, Abe’s goal of establishing the dialogue was to create an Asian arc of democracy—one that could be extended to include virtually all countries that sit on the periphery of China, including the states in Central Asia, Mongolia, the Korean peninsula, and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Rand senior defence analyst Derek Grossman noted in July: “For the first time in the Quad’s history, the stars are aligning for a harder line on China, and the implications going forward could be significant.”
The Quad now has a concrete resolve to deter China, as all members have recently been on the receiving end of Beijing’s wolf warrior diplomacy, Grossman believes.
But he noted that the recent strengthening of the QUAD would be viewed unfavourably by Beijing as the regime sees the Quad as a military alliance meant to “contain” and threaten China.
Note several things in this article tends to confirm my own speculations: (1) Shinzo Abe, and Japan, were the lynch pin in putting forward the idea, and (2) China's own aggressiveness has helped pave the way for what could become a more formal arrangement. This has some immediate repercussions. With Prime Minister Abe's recent announcement of his intention to resign the premiership of Japan, the way is open to new leadership of the Japanese Liberal Democrats. As I've blogged about previously, one should not expect any major shift of long-term Japanese policy, especially in this regard. In fact, if anything, my own speculation is that we'll see Abe's line of diplomacy being pursued with even more vigor, including his push to amend the Japanese constitution to allow for greater defense spending, all but a foregone conclusion if a "quadruple entente" is to become a more formal arrangement.
However, the reader will immediately spot a difference between this formalization as outlined in the article, and my idea of a "quadruple entente." In my thinking, the fourth member of that entente was, and is, Russia. In the article, that fourth member is Australia. So why the difference?
Well, frankly, I don't see much of a difference, and in fact, should the article's version of a quadruple entente become formalized, then this would put both Japan and Russia into an even more decisive role in that arrangement. This requires a little explanation. The article reference's Japan's long term diplomatic objective to create an "arc of democracy" inclusive of "virtually all countries that sit on the periphery of China, including the states in Central Asia, Mongolia, the Korean peninsula, and other countries in southeast Asia." Russia certainly qualifies at least in so far as it shares a long common border with Chinese Manchuria. But the mention of Mongolia here is also significant, given that country's long association with Soviet Russia. In other words, while Russia may not become an actual formal partner in any formal arrangement (now doubt due to US intransigence on the matter of anything Russian), it nonetheless will be kept "in the loop", if for no other reason than that Japan wants and needs Russia, as Russia wants and needs Japan. Not being a component of any formal arrangement allows Russia to be the middle man between such a bloc, and Bejing, giving Russia considerable leverage diplomatically. Thus far Russia, which wants to build out its Siberian infrastructure, expand its rail trunk lines in the vast region to serve its expanding agriculture, and to open up more Siberian resources, and which eventually wants to develop high speed rail along the Trans-Siberian, has been turning to China for the capital and technology to do that. But Japan has capital, and similar technology to offer in return for those Russian energy resources, resources which currently come from the Middle East along routes easily interdictable by China. In other words, geopolitical and financial reasons are forcing the two countries - Japan and Russia - into mutual diplomacy, and no amount of foot-stomping and finger-wagging in Swamptington, DC or Beijing are going to change that. The only thing that might put a temporary damper on that is if that "formal arrangement" between India, the USA, Australia, and Japan were to include some protocol that no agreements with Russia could be made bitlaterally between the signatory powers, without the approval of all, an unlikely event, but even if it were to happen, the geopolitical reality on the ground will still force Russia and Japan together in their own northern version of a Silk Road. And as far as Russia goes, even Germany is reconsidering its economic ties with China right now, and German businesses have for years been advocating a relaxation of Washington's sanctions on Russia. From the German and European point of view, it would be much better to do significant trade with Asia along both Chinese, and Russian, overland routes, than be completely dependent on China.
THe only other thing that might prevent it is a sudden Chinese offer of high speed rail tech, with the added provision that Russia can "copy and paste" and make it in Russian factories, with extremely low licensing fees, or in return for a "technology swap": we'll give you the high speed rail tech, you give us your missile defense tech." But Beijing is in such a mess that something tells me Moscow might think twice about hitching its wagon permanently to China so long as Japan is a surer, and much more stable, bet.
Then there's India, the other major player in the Asian branch of this version of the quadruple entente. India, besides being the third major nuclear power in the region besides China and Pakistan, is also the other major Asian power besides China to maintain friendly relations with Russia, a policy that hearkens all the way back to the premiership of Indira Ghandi during her long tenure in office. India, like Japan, is perfectly positioned by this long relationship to be the other major "go-between" between Canberra and Swampington DC, and Moscow. In fact, the reader might recall that in the midst of the chill in relationships between Moscow and Beijing, that Mr. Mohdi's government extended over a billion dollar line of credit to Moscow. And as I first mentioned this in a blog a few days ago, I wondered then, and wonder now, just how much of this money is actually coming from New Delhi. I wonder how much actually came initially from Swampington and how much India turned around and shunted to Moscow, perhaps even with a nod and a wink from Swampington. In other words, India could be perfectly positioned, in a way Japan is not nor can afford to be, to be a back-channel source of credit to Moscow, all the while Swampington pretends to keep the sanctions regime in place...
Or to put it country simple once again: BRICS is over, and there's a massive geopolitical realignment going on in Asia, and as much as the USA is behind a large part of it, it's not behind all of it. India, and Japan, are driving a great deal of it.
See you on the flip side...