What is BRICS member India really up to?



Pepe Escober, Russia Today, Moscow, 15 September 2016


You may have never heard of LEMOA. In Global South terms, LEMOA (Logistics
Exchange Memorandum Agreement) is quite a big thing, signed in late August
by Indian Defense Minister Mohan Parrikar and Pentagon supremo Ash Carter.


As Carter spun it <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyPriSgWGyM>  four months
before the signing, LEMOA rules that US forces "may" be deployed to India
under special circumstances. Essentially, Delhi will allow Washington to
refuel and keep contingents and equipment in Indian bases - but only in case
of war.


In theory, India is not offering the US any permanent military base. Yet
considering the Pentagon's track record that may of course change in a


No wonder Indian nationalists were outraged - insisting there is no
strategic gain out of this gambit, especially for a nation that is very
proud of being one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).




The cozying up to the Pentagon happens just a few months after Prime
Minister Narendra Modi - who had been denied a US visa for nearly a decade -
addressed a joint meeting of Congress in a blaze of glory, declaring
9b37-42985f6a265c_story.html>  that India and the US are 
natural allies" and calling for a closer partnership.


Modi went no holds barred, even referring to Gandhi's influence on Rev.
Martin Luther King's nonviolent civil disobedience strategy - something that
could not but earn him a standing ovation in Capitol Hill.


The "closer" partnership does involve military and nuclear issues. As Modi
reminded Congress - which needed no reminding - the industrial-military
complex sold weapons to India "from almost zero to $10 billion in less than
a decade."


Then there's the US-India nuclear cooperation deal, which opens a window for
US corporations to build and supply Indian nuclear power reactors. And
eventually Washington is bent to share "some" - and the operative concept is
"some" - military technology with Delhi.


Geopolitically, this all boils down to what happened recently in the
Philippine Sea, as the US, Japan and India practiced anti-submarine warfare
and air defense maneuvers; practical evidence of the "pivot to Asia", as in
re-tweaking Asia's naval-security "order" to counteract - who else - China.


Modi performs geopolitical yoga


Yet things are not as black and white - from the Indian point of view. It's
no secret that key sectors of the Indian diaspora in the US are quite
integrated with the Washington consensus and usual suspect hegemony
mechanisms such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rand
Corporation. But Modi's game is way more sophisticated.


Modi's priority is to solidify India as the top South Asian power. So he
cannot afford to antagonize Washington. On the contrary; he's getting the US
on board his vastly ambitious Make in India strategy
<http://www.makeinindia.com/home>  ("a major national initiative designed to
facilitate investment; foster innovation; enhance skill development; protect
intellectual property; and build best-in-class manufacturing




Naturally, US corporations - heavy supporters of TPP - are salivating at the
lucrative prospects. The drive is similar to what China did decades ago, but
now with emphasis on "protection of intellectual property" to attract the
TPP-obsessed crowd.

Another geopolitical Modi goal is to forcefully present India - not Pakistan
- to Washington as the ideal reliable/rational partner in South Asia. That's
dicey, because for the Pentagon the multiple declinations of the war on
terra in AfPak are de facto being configured as something like Operation
Enduring Freedom Forever.


And then there's once again the military angle: India diversifying its
weapons suppliers - mostly it buys from Russia - towards the US, but not
that much, establishing a careful balance.


This is a balance between the US and BRICS, in itself is the hardest nut to
crack. As Beijing admits
<http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2016-09/08/content_26733205.htm>  in
no uncertain terms, "BRICS faces the risk of retrogressive, rather than
progressive, cooperation because of new, intricate circumstances."


Talk about a diplomatic euphemism for the ages. And this as Washington will
go no holds barred to contain China
pines-taiwan-sea/79493736/>  behind the First Island Chain in the South
China Sea while there's not much Delhi can do to contain Myanmar providing
Beijing with total access to the Indian Ocean via Pipelineistan, ports and
high-speed rail.




At the next BRICS summit in Goa next month, some of these geopolitical
intricacies will be quietly discussed behind closed doors. BRICS may be in
disarray, with Brazil under regime change, Russia under sanctions and India
flirting with the US. But BRICS remains committed to serious institutional
moves, such as the New Development Bank (NDB), the push towards trading in
their own currencies and a multi-pronged politico/economic drive towards a
multipolar world.


This drive is graphically in effect when we examine one of the key -
unreported - Eurasian integration stories; the symbiosis between India and
Iran. Delhi counts on Tehran to up its game as an economy propelled by
natural gas as well as profiting in the long run from the perfect - Persian
- gateway to Central Asian markets.


The key hub of course is the port of Chabahar. The highlight of a Modi visit
to Tehran four months ago was a Chabahar contract
OUs+signed+during+the+visit+of+Prime+Minister+to+Iran+May+23+2016>  between
India Ports Global Private Limited and Arya Banader of Iran. That's about
"development and operation for 10 years of two terminals and 5 berths with
cargo handling".


There's way more; development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and essential
road/rail links from Iran to Afghanistan and further into Central Asia.
India will then have direct access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. It
does not hurt that Delhi and Kabul are already strategic partners.


Chabahar is only 500 km east of the ultra-strategic Strait of Hormuz.


Indian Ocean


In the near future, we might as well see a configuration where the Indian
Navy has the right to use Chabahar while the Chinese Navy has the right to
use Gwadar, in Pakistan, only 150 km by sea east of Chabahar. Nothing that
BRICS dialogue - or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - could not
keep on smooth sailing mode.


For Iran, this is a certified "win-win" game. Iran not only will be
connected to the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR); but it will also
solidify <http://www.instc-org.ir/Pages/Home_Page.aspx>  yet another
trade/transportation corridor in Eurasia; the International North-South
Transportation Corridor (INSTC) between the Indian Ocean and Central Asia.
Key INSTC members happen to be Iran, India and. Russia. Talk about, once
again, the interpenetration of BRICS and the SCO.


The Big Picture ahead under Modi's long term planning does not look like
Delhi subjected to the role of flagrant vassal of Washington. India needs
certified stability with all key players - from the US to China, considering
the master plan is to lift 1.3 billion Indians close to the living standards
of middle-class Chinese.


China had a head start. India may take up to 2050 to do it. Meanwhile, it's
not to India's interests to actively join any US policy of China containment
or encirclement, be it "pivot" or "rebalance". It's more like India, in a
Gandhian way, will be practicing the fine art of nonviolent, forceful



From: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/359428-brics-member-india-escobar/
























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