Diplomacy Fails, Guns Talk!: International Military Stand-off

Diplomacy Fails, Guns Talk!: International Military Stand-off

The military stand-off is a pressure building or counterbalance or outnumbers the national military on the border against the enemy. If the following countries were friends on Facebook and were asked to update their relationship status, the short answer would surely be: It’s Complicated.

UNRAVELED: INDO-CHINA MILITARY STANDOFF

On 5 May 2020, Chinese and India troops engaged in aggressive face-offs at locations across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the disputed Pangong Lake. In late May, Chinese troops objected to Indian road construction near the Galwan Valley. An escalated discussion and hand to hand combat between the forces led to an unfortunate event which resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers from 16 Bihar regiment of the Indian Army and 43 Chinese soldiers from the People Liberation Army. For the first time in 45 years, situations got heated up across the LAC and continuous firing was witnessed from both the sides of the border till late August. 

Amid the standoff, India deployed additional troops and reinforced the area with 12000 workers who would then assist Border Road Organisation (BRO) in completing the infrastructural developments along the Sino-India border. Analysts and veterans have claimed that the standoff was a pre-emptive measure from China in response to DBO Road infrastructure project in Ladakh, However, both the countries had several bilateral talks chaired by high ranking officers from the armies to resolve the situation. On July 2021, with a final discussion, ceasefire was signed and both the troops withdrew to their original posts. 

ANCIENT TIES

The current stand-off in the Doklam Plateau area, the site of the trijunction between India, China, and Bhutan, has raised tensions between the two countries. While troops from both sides stand eyeball to eyeball, a full-scale war has broken out between the respective national media of the two countries. A great deal of this patriot intensity from both sides is likewise being communicated across online media. If only disputes between two giant neighbours could be settled so quickly.  

DECADES OF MISTRUST

There is no question that to the extent numbers go, purely in terms of economic heft and military might, China has pulled well in front of India over in the last forty years. In 1979, when China began its economic modernization, both the countries had abysmally low per capita GDP, around $ 250 per capita. They lagged behind the rest of the world in other human development indicators. Now China is estimated to be an 11 trillion dollar economy while India is around 2.25 trillion dollars. In per capita terms, our GDP in 2016 was assessed to be 6,700 dollars, while China is at approximately 14,600 dollars. On most different proportions of economic strength like trade, banking, and the stock market, China is plainly in front of India by quite some distance. Coming to the military arena, here again, China is a more significant and more considerable power. Annually it spends around three times as much as India on defence, approximately 150 billion dollars to our 50 billion. China’s army is 2.3 million to India’s 1.2 million, its Navy has more than 700 ships, though our own has under 300, and its Air Force has around 3000 aircraft, while India has about 2100. China’s nuclear arsenal is much older and more prominent in number than India’s. In the emerging areas of space-based military systems and cyber-warfare technology, China has demonstrated capabilities that are far superior to India’s.

Given the above comparison, one would be curious to ask – "How might India face China? Wouldn’t China’s overwhelming economic advantage and military superiority make it a one-sided scenario? Why is India even attempting to take them on? Doesn’t India run the risk of repeating the debacle of 1962? Such sensations of fear are both natural and considering strong reasoning. Yet, they dismiss various parts of the circumstance between these two giants that make war inconceivable, and on the off chance that it happens, its result would not be an inevitable end product.

Firstly, the conflict between two nuclear-armed states is unlikely to be an all-out confrontation that will destroy both sides. The kind of logic that creates a stand-off between India and Pakistan also applies to India and China. In this way, despite speaking, the two sides will think very cautiously before utilizing the tactical alternative instead of using the military option. Being the greater economic power, China additionally has significantly more to lose. It is the biggest exporter globally, and nearly 70% of its trade passes through the Indian Ocean. War would disrupt that trade and cripple its economy. The gains of the past four decades would be frittered away for a few square kilometres of a barren, desolate cold desert. Almost certainly, the Chinese are ruthless and formidable enemies, yet they are additionally levelheaded. A conflict with India would likewise devastatingly affect China's image abroad. Already they are facing worldwide criticism over covid-19 and their policies in the South China Sea, where they have refused to abide by international law. Their policy concerning North Korea is also under considerable strain. If war breaks out in the Korean peninsula, China will have a significant humanitarian disaster at its doorstep. Coping with it will require a vast mobilization of national resources. Can it afford to divert its attention towards India?

COOPERATION TO CONFLICT

THE WAR-GAMERS

A set of war-gamers acting individually have struck out a conventional war on the Korean Peninsula.

The gamers' experiences stress some crucial truths. Discussions would be incomplete without mentioning the powerful South Korean ally United States and cunning North Korean ally China. Even though South Korea and the United States could defeat North Korea in the battle, allied losses likely would be staggeringly expensive and an Allied counterattack could endanger drawing China into the conflict, at which point a regional war might become a world war.

HISTORY

The separation of Korea by the United States and the Soviet Union occurred in 1945. Both superpowers formulated a government in their perception. Tensions vented into the Korean War, which persisted from 1950 to 1953. When the war settled, both the countries were ravaged, with the utter destruction of many countries, but the division remained. North and South Korea maintained a military standoff, with intermittent clashes. The conflict sustained the end of the Cold War and continues to this day.

 

A CONTRAST- NORTH vs SOUTH

The South Korean government and the United States authorities have maintained that the U.S. troops in Korea should remain for a long time to come since North Korea's capacities far surpass that of South Korea. They regularly refer to how the tactical harmony between the two Koreas is supportive of 2:1, and North Korea has been pouring around 20% of its Gross National Product (GNP) into military consumption, while South Korea has been spending just 6% of its GNP.

CRITIQUE ZONE

North Korea's military strategy may be challenging to decipher, but it mustn't be considered irrational or insignificant. Over the past decade, the North Korean regime has taken deliberate steps to extend its asymmetric military capabilities, crediting North Korea’s argument is engaging in offensive posturing, not simply defensive buildup. Common man would believe that North Korea's desires aren't realistic. North Korea's priority is to accelerate ahead aggressively with testing its missiles and its nuclear weapons in a shot to solidify its deterrent capabilities. For Kim Jong Un, this is smart as means of boosting his political authority and legitimacy reception. He can take support from China's self-evident qualm to impose severe crippling economic restrictions on the North, despite its support for tougher UN sanctions.

This ‘supremacy’ by North Korea is ironic because every time there is a war-like situation, the almighty missile country starts taking an interest in 'peace talks.' After the case cools down a little, it again starts with the missile tests and power games. It seems like North Korea does not want a war. They can't afford one, and Kim Jong Un understands that his regime and life would be over if he attacks first.

"In a war between the Koreas, even the winners are losers."

ASYMMETRY IN RELATIONSHIPS: "NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT"

Recently, a 30-year-old unresolved dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh erupted again. The conflict is between two relatively small countries and is local. However, many regional and international players, especially Russia, Europe, Turkey, and Iran, are also involved in strategic, security, and economic development. As electricity transmission determines the region's strategic importance, regional stability is essential for regional growth and oil-producing countries such as India. In addition, the conflict could lead to national unrest in the region, which is already plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, regional powers should strive to find a political solution and prevent conflict from escalating into an all-out war act.

DISPUTE DISCLOSURE

Ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh territory is strongly contested between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The current conflict is based on events following World War I, and today the region is part of Azerbaijan law. However, most of it is owned by the world-famous republic of Artsakh, backed by Armenia.

The conflict dates back to pre-Soviet times when the region was at the junction of the Ottoman, Russian, and Persian empires. When Azerbaijan and Armenia became Soviet republics in 1921, Russia (then the Soviet Union) granted Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan but granted independence to the polar region. In the 1980s, when the Soviet regime collapsed, a wave of separatism swept across Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1988, a national convention voted to abolish the regional sovereignty and join Armenia. Azerbaijan, however, suppressed such calls, which led to the war.

FLASHPOINT OF ARGUMENT

The declaration of Nagorno-Karabakh independence in September 1991 after the imminent collapse of the USSR led to a war between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh - backed by Armenia. The conflict continued until a ceasefire was reached in 1994, mainly by Russia. Since then, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, in conjunction with the all-out USA, Russian, and France chairs, have played a key role in Azerbaijan and Armenia resolving the general conflict. At that time, Armenia had occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and had supplied Armenian rebels.

The current state of affairs is that the rebels proclaimed freedom but did not recognize any country. The international community still considers the region part of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan wants to bring it back.

STAND OF INDIA: INTERESTS AND CHALLENGES

Through Armenia, India has a friendship and cooperation agreement (signed in 1995), which would prevent India from providing troops or other aid to Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan, ONGC / OVL has invested in an oil project in Azerbaijan, while GAIL is looking at opportunities to partner in LNG. Azerbaijan also crosses the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) route, connecting India and Russia via Central Asia. It can also connect India and Turkey and beyond the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars commuter link and the freight train.

TACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REGION

The energy-rich Azerbaijan has assembled a few gas and oil pipelines across the Caucasus (the district between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) to Turkey and Europe. A portion of these pipelines passes near the contention zone (inside 16 km of the border).In an open conflict between the two nations, the pipelines could be designated, which would affect energy supplies and may even prompt higher oil costs universally.

THE ROLE OF REGIONAL PLAYERS

Turkey: The conflict between the two previous Soviet republics has sweeping public ramifications as Turkey, which shares borders with Armenia, upholds Azerbaijan. Given the deep cultural ties between the two countries, Turkey strongly supports Azerbaijan. Moreover, this is in line with Turkey's violent foreign policy, which seeks to increase Turkish interests in the former Ottoman territories.

Russia: Russia enjoys good relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia and supplies weapons to both of them. Armenia relies heavily on Russia than its richest Azerbaijan, and Russia also has a military base in Armenia. Russia, therefore, is trying to balance the two by mediating a ceasefire between the warring parties. Nevertheless, a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani political or military leaders is yet to be convened.

Israel: The conflict marks the strange alliance of Turkey and Israel, which are enemies of one another in cooperation and security.

But both provinces, dominated by their Sunni and Jewish communities respectively, support and support Azerbaijan. Also, Israel's leading military and security firms want to take advantage of Azerbaijan's eagerness to arm itself.

Armenia extends its full support to India in the Kashmir issue, while Azerbaijan opposes and promotes Pakistani. India does not have a publicly defined policy for the South Caucasus - unlike "Neighborhood First," "Act East," or "Central Asia Connect." The region is sitting on the edge of its foreign policy radar.

BALANCE BETWEEN TWO EXTRAS

Conflict is between two world systems—the Azerbaijan policy of national integrity and the self-determination policy adopted by Nagorno-Karabakh and supported by Armenia. India has every reason not to maintain the integrity of the territory of Azerbaijan as Azerbaijan has shown disregard for the integrity of the region of India violated by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.

At the same time, it is difficult for India to publicly acknowledge Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, given the adverse effects of India's results. Its adversaries, such as Pakistan, can exploit it by making false connections with Kashmir and burning up a separatist movement in certain parts of India.

EPILOGUE

In conclusion, a war with India would also have a devastating impact on China's image abroad. They are now confronting overall criticism over their policies in the South China Sea, where they have would not maintain global law. Their strategy as to North Korea is likewise under significant strain. On the off chance that war breaks out in the Korean landmass, China will have a significant philanthropic catastrophe to manage at its doorstep. Coping with it will require a huge mobilization of national resources. The contention among Armenia and Azerbaijan mirrors the disappointment of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In the absence of a peacekeeping force and a peaceful political will, low-level conflicts have continued over the years. Under these circumstances, India has done the right thing by adopting a balanced and neutral stance and a political solution outlined in the principles of Madrid. These countries can choose to coexist peacefully and mutually prosper or they can choose to ruin each other. Either way, none of them are prepared.

Designs by – Saksham Devkota and Tejaswini Sahu

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