This morning Via Meadia commented on China’s buildup of naval power. Anxious not to be left behind, India has just taken possession of a Russian nuclear submarine. According to the BBC, a second, Indian-built nuclear sub will be ocean-ready later this year.An important lesson for Asia-watchers in this new historical period: Despite warm relations with Washington and closely aligned security priorities in Asia, India has no intention of becoming an American poodle. Russia supplies 70 percent of India’s military hardware and while India can be expected to up its purchases of top level US equipment over time, it will want to avoid depending too much on one supplier.Delhi has other interests that don’t mesh with the DC agenda. For one thing, it has its own view of Iran. India is seeking ways around American and European sanctions on Iran. The previous method of routing payments through Turkey is no longer viable, says Voice of America.
Other [payment] options are being explored…Oil Minister [Jaipal] Reddy has reiterated that India will only follow sanctions imposed by the United Nations and not those by individual countries… “we have traditional relationships with Iran which goes beyond oil, so to that extent government cannot cut off its entire dependence on Iran.”
The Asian political scene is a lot more free wheeling than Europe during the Cold War. India, China, the US, Japan, Vietnam and many others have their own very distinct interests and priorities. The broad alignment of countries concerned about China’s rise is nothing like the formal, treaty-based NATO alliance, and managing an Asia-centered foreign policy is going to involve a lot of cat-herding.The Asian Game of Thrones is shaping up to be a complicated game of brinkmanship and diplomacy, power and influence. Expect intrigues, sudden plot twists, shifts of allegiance and plenty of drama. Following the Cold War was sometimes like watching paint dry; there were long, stable periods in which very little changed in the European face-off between the US and the USSR. The Pacific Century will be many things; dull isn’t likely to be one of them.