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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS :  India should refuse America’s ‘NATO Plus’ bait

 

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, NATO, EU etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India and affecting India’s interests etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • United States Permanent Representative to NATO, Julianne Smith quoted: The NATO alliance is open to more engagement, should India seek that”.
  • S. House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP): It recommended strengthening the ‘NATO-Plus’ framework by including India in the grouping

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

 

  • Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.
  • It is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April, 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
  • There are currently 30 member states(Finland 31st).
  • NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.
  • NATO has an integrated military command structure but very few forces or assets are exclusively its own.

 

Other Countries who recently Joined NATO before

  • Norway (1949)
  • Latvia (2004)
  • Estonia (2004)
  • Poland (1999)
  • Lithuania (2004)
  • Finland(2023)

 

NATO Plus:

  • It refers to a security arrangement of NATO and the five treaty allies of the U.S. — Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea as members.
  • Aim: To enhance “global defense cooperation” and win the “strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party”.
  • NATO Plus’ is not an officially recognised or established concept within NATO itself
    • It has been used in discussions and debates regarding the potential expansion of the alliance.
  • The inclusion of these countries as members would require a complex process of negotiation and assessment of their compatibility with NATO’s principles, obligations, and defense commitments.
  • The focus of NATO Plus is on containing China.
    • Therefore, considering its disputes with China, India remains a missing link in the framework.

 

Advantages for India in joining NATO Plus:

  • In light of increasing regional security challenges, India joining the NATO Plus framework could provide it with a security umbrella
    • With protection and deterrence against potential threats.
  • India could also gain access to advanced military technologies, intelligence-sharing platforms, and interoperability with other member-states.
  • This could potentially strengthen India’s defense capabilities and modernisation efforts.

 

Issues with Joining NATO for India:

  • Getting into any NATO framework will annoy Russia and China.
    • Apart from the robust strategic partnership, Russia has been useful to India in dealing with regional security challenges
    • Russia has helped in moderating the stance of China.
  • Even though Russia is getting over-dependent on China, post the war in Ukraine, Russia remains a valuable partner for India.
    • India’s solidified strategic partnership with Russia will crumble.
  • While aligning with the U.S.-led alliance system may be tempting due to the threats posed by China
  • It could ultimately prove counterproductive and detrimental.
  • Having a military framework will limit India’s freedom of action and prevent it from pursuing an independent policy towards China.
  • At a time when India has its own bilateral issues with China and a strategy for the Indo-Pacific, hopping into the Taiwan strategy of the U.S. under NATO Plus will complicate India’s security
  • It will pave the way for the possibility of Chinese justification for further military build-up along the India-China border and frequent intrusion.
  • India has traditionally maintained a policy of strategic autonomy, allowing it to engage with various nations and blocs based on its own interests.
  • Joining a NATO framework would require India to align its defense and security policies with the objectives and strategies of the alliance
    • thereby potentially undermining India’s autonomy.
  • The non-aligned policy will become irrelevant.
  • It could strain relationships with countries, especially neighbors and regional organizations that value India’s independent stance
  • It could limit its flexibility in engaging with other regional powers.

 

Way Forward

  • India’s priorities lie in addressing its own regional dynamics that includes a unique set of security challenges such as border disputes, terrorism, and regional conflicts.
  • NATO has certain competencies to deal with such issues, its larger geopolitical agenda starting from Eurasia to the Indo-Pacific may divert resources and attention away from these pressing issues and, therefore, will not be of much help to India.
  • India’s posturing through the Quad-the Asian NATO as per China: It looks more promising than the NATO Plus bait, though China remains an elephant in the room during its summits.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s National self- esteem and ambitions” Explain with suitable examples.(UPSC 2019)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)