India in China's gunsights

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by neo29, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

    Dec 1, 2009
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    Pakistani terrorists may attack an Indian city to provoke a war with Chinese complicity, analyses Gautam Sen.

    An Indian city is likely to suffer a major terrorist assault in the foreseeable future. The most obvious target is Mumbai because a second terror attack against it would constitute spectacular provocation. Other cities which are potential targets for Pakistani terrorism include Bangalore and Delhi: the former because it obsesses Pakistanis, while an assault against Delhi would make a mockery of the constant refrain that India is rising and dramatically highlight its pathetic vulnerability to a Pakistan on the verge of collapse. Any such terror outrage would constitute a casus belli that Pakistan could not engage in without prior clearance from Beijing. China would need to guarantee intervention to protect Pakistan against Indian ire by at least moving troops towards its border with India. The Anglo-American view of such a situation cannot be confidently anticipated. The British foreign office remains a bastion of unrelenting advocacy for Pakistan and powerful elements within the US, especially within the Pentagon and the US state department, are unwilling to abandon their faithful long-term ally.

    China itself now earnestly wishes to precipitate an Indo-Pak war that would derail India's contemporary economic trajectory and its growing international political influence. An India potentially defanged would hardly seem a credible candidate for permanent UN Security Council membership. However, a direct military assault against India by China would be potentially costly, because of the likely Indian response, and it would galvanize opposition to China across Asia as well as alarm other countries beyond it. It cannot be stressed too strongly that Pakistan is entirely a Chinese instrument that has no strategic autonomy and only limited operational freedom. It does, of course, wish to harm India, but the decision to do so, and the modus operandi, will be decided by Beijing. Only cupidity and wishful thinking prevents Indians and their supposedly astute decision-makers from accepting that 26/11 could not have occurred without prior clearance from China since it could have led to a war that Pakistan would not have been keen to fight without full Chinese assistance. Perhaps deep down Indian decision- makers are also fearful of the very thought of such an enormous act of duplicity, though China has given India plenty of reasons to regard it as pernicious and totally untrustworthy.

    There are now ample grounds for believing, as I argued in December 2008, that sections of the US administration had more than an inkling that a terrorist outrage would be launched against Mumbai, though even they might have been somewhat taken aback by its scale and impact. It is quite clear that the Americans did not share enough information with India on the looming calamity in order to protect their asset, David Coleman Headley. His US handlers had evidently hoped his credibility would be enhanced with the Pakistani terror organizations he had infiltrated on their behalf once his endeavours facilitated mass murder in Mumbai. Yet such is the extent of American influence in Delhi today that neither the media nor the Indian government are willing to entertain thoughts about US propensity for profound cynicism and bad faith. The imperative to compartmentalize as a one-off the brilliant Indian diplomatic coup of the Indo-US nuclear accord from the long history of compulsive US hostility towards India has not sunk in. The instincts of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom exasperated the US with their determination to preserve India's decision-making autonomy, have been supplanted by lazy thinking and barely credible confidence in an alleged US need for India in a confrontation with China. Indians may have trouble attaining self-knowledge, but the US is perfectly aware that India will likely refuse US requests for any significant help in such an eventuality.

    Indians also need to grasp that it would not serve US interests if Indo-Pak hostility ceased. The harsh truth is that the end of Indo-Pak tensions would quickly truncate US influence in India and persuade Delhi to pursue mutual forbearance with China, rightly in my view if such an option were feasible. In this context, their constant pleading for US chastisement of Pakistan, its major non-NATO ally, is comic. Modern Pakistan is virtually the creation of a US strategic calculus once the British had played the role of midwife in establishing it. Like the Saudis, the Pakistanis, who are both so extraordinarily close in their mutual embrace too, are joined at the hip with the US and destined, for better for worse, to remain so. The Anglo-American problem with India has always been deep racially-fuelled resentment at India's historic determination to preserve its decision-making autonomy, unlike virtually any other developing country. Is this what India will compromise for an outwardly tranquil life of self-abnegation and a US embrace that no other postcolonial country since World War II survived intact? Nehru made his fair share of foreign-policy errors, but preventing India from joining the US dispensation is one of his enduring achievements, something for which his fearless daughter, one of India's great historic leaders, paid for with her life.

    A terrorist outrage against India is almost certainly guaranteed especially after the success of the murderous assault of 26/11 and almost no negative consequences for Pakistan except the suspension of dialogue with India. While India remains active in Afghanistan, from where it will certainly unceremoniously shortly be ejected and without Anglo-American demur (judging by S. M. Krishna's shocking humiliation recently at the hands of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office at Lancaster House), Pakistan will continue to extract a price in blood and reputation. Why India regards a presence in Afghanistan as vital is not clear since it is beyond India's capacity to enforce its interests there by force of arms where the rest of the world has failed to do so. Paradoxically, the restoration of Afghanistan as a Pakistani neo-colony will dilute though not end its belligerence towards India, since India's perceived expansion of influence in Afghanistan was the real cause of the Mumbai assault. Of course China's antagonism towards India has reached fever pitch in recent years and would be the instigator of renewed Indo-Pak clashes. It should be noted that talk of combined Indo-Russian and, possibly, Iranian intervention in Afghanistan needs to assume concrete shape, with a clearly enumerated list of political goals, specific tasks and who will be responsible for what. Until then, it is only talk.

    India needs to avoid war at this critical juncture in its history even if it means suffering political humiliation and absorbing the human and economic costs of terrorist assaults against its cities. However, that should not mean hoping for the best and tolerating the kind of disgraceful failings that have hitherto characterized official preparedness for the most devastating warfare against India and its people. Clearly, domestic intelligence-gathering and the capacity to respond to terror inside India require a significant augmentation of resources. It also requires the political will to interdict and extinguish terror overcoming narrow and self-serving votebank considerations. The material costs of such purposes are rather less than an aircraft carrier or a couple of squadrons of fighter aircraft. And their necessity is immediate compared to any requirements for an unlikely wholesale military encounter, for which preparation is undoubtedly a legitimate imperative as well. India is not short of resources, but hard-headed decisions and the requisite political will are an urgent obligation.

    Gautam Sen taught for more than twenty years at the London School of Economics and recently co-authored Analyzing the Global Political Economy. The views expressed here are those of the author.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  3. chex3009

    chex3009 Regular Member

    Oct 13, 2010
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    India firmly in China’s crosshairs!

    I have always found it fascinating how utterly impossible it is, and has always been, for the Indian political class to even begin to comprehend China’s actions and motives towards us. They almost seem to be naively asking, “Why doesn’t China like us?”

    We have done “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai” with them! We signed the Panchsheel agreement with them, and then smiled as they broke it and attacked us. We didn’t say anything when they gobbled up Tibet (with whom we had treaty rights as well as responsibilities to defend) and Xinjiang using moronic justifications (India can claim suzerainty over the US using the same logic, as both were ruled by Britain at the same point in time, and frankly even over Xinjiang, as apparently during the Mahabharat, Sahadeva had conquered “Uttara Kuru” (now known East Turkestan / Xinjiang); the race of “Chinas” have been mentioned in the Mahabharat, fighting on behalf of the Pandavas, and used to pay tribute to the Chakravarti king Yudhishthira; and Kashmiri king Lalitaditya Muktipeeda in 8th century AD had attacked and captured parts of Tibet!).

    We laughed off Mao’s ominous statement on Tibet being the palm of a hand and Aksai Chin, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachal being the five fingers into the heart of India! We gifted them the permanent seat on the UNSC which was offered to us, over Formosa! We didn’t go to Chiang Kai Shek’s aid when he was fighting off Mao, and literally “ditched” him, after having promised him support! We have almost forgotten even to mention that China is sitting on Aksai China and the Shaksgam Valley (both part of the undivided state of J&K and legally a part of India – funnily both kept by China to facilitate roads, one to connect Tibet with Xinjiang, and the other as “payment” for building the Korakoran highway!). We are acting blissfully unaware of the flagrant and open encirclement of India done by China, through its string of pearls strategy over the last 30 years. We are desperately hiding from the Indian public their active border transgressions, and creeping acquisition of additional land in Ladakh!

    And for having done all of this, China still hates us! Wow!

    In a nutshell, it hates us because of all the above reasons, and not despite them; but this deserves a slightly deeper appreciation and a more detailed answer!

    Napoleon had once said, that the world must let China sleep, for once it wakes up, it will shall shake the world! China apologists view this as a compliment and limit its scope to the economic domain, but I view this as an ominous warning by a great leader with remarkable vision.

    The world has not really understood the characteristics of this fast-rising power that keeps on pleading (and reassuring frayed nerves) that it will “rise peacefully”, but no one believes them.

    The Chinese state has the following attributes:

    Like we in India “tongue-in-cheek” comment that Pakistan is an Army that has a country attached (and not the other way round), China is a political party that has a country of its own. The way we experience China is the way the Communist Party of China wants us to experience China! Never before in modern history has such a small cabal of people had so much power, over such a large area, and not been accountable to anyone for it.
    China is one of the oldest, largest, unitary (Han Chinese), exclusivist cultures in the world, with the possible exception of Japan (though not the largest).
    China has this deeply internalized superiority complex about itself, its culture, intellect, its place in the world (the middle kingdom, i.e. the centre of the world).
    It has a very very long memory and does not forget slights to its honour (both real and perceived), whether individual or collective (i.e. by a country)
    It has a very deep seated anger against the western world and Japan, that for the past 200 years, it has been denied its place in history (as the de facto leader of the world) by a combination of factors (be it the forced opium wars by Britain, or the brief but violent colonization by Japan).
    Even its “short-term” strategic thinking is probably over a timeframe of 50 years, and therefore thinks and acts consistently on a very long term basis (Mao’s “Palm-and-fingers” strategy is being played out in Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh now)
    China is a “hyper-expansionist” power, that has an insatiable lust for land, and extremely dismissive about the people that may just happen to be on that land – example the “breed-them-out” programme in Tibet and Xinjiang
    China currently only fears the US’ military power, which is holding it back from unleashing a campaign of violence against (at the very least – Taiwan, Vietnam, India, and even some Japanese and Russian interests). It is waiting for the day that it feels that it has caught up with the US in terms of military power and/or the US has lost its gumption for a fight (both of which seem to be scheduled to happen sooner rather than later)
    The one-child policy and gender-bias in favour of the boy-child has distorted the gender ratio very adversely, with millions of Chinese men unable to find partners. Historically, such ‘testosterone-crazed’ populations have only led their nations towards war and destruction (the Huns and Mongols of the past, and some analysts’ point to the “need for Jihad” in Pakistan to be caused by this very same reason).
    China’s secretive and relentless drive for building up its military muscle (given that no nation in its right mind would attack China today), only raises concerns within its neighbours about its intentions, and this can cause the “law of unintended consequences” to go haywire (many analysts expect Japan to soon give up its policy of “defensive restraint” of more than 60 years and go in for major arms up-gradation, only due to apprehensions about China’s intentions).
    So what does this all mean for India? Like mentioned earlier, Indian politicos, even if they grant all of the above, are still unable to understand “Why China doesn’t like us”. So let’s understand what exactly China’s problem with India is.

    China’s disgust, disdain, and visceral hatred of India stems from the following causes:

    Although a statement to this effect was made by a Chinese scholar (that “India conquered China many centuries ago without ever having to send a single soldier over the Himalayas”), it is extremely difficult for the proud Chinese to accept that anything about their culture could have come from anywhere else (remember “middle kingdom”). The fact that most Chinese martial arts have descended from ancient Indian knowledge (there are pictures of dark-skinned Rishis teaching Chinese pupils in a Shaolin temple, but largely ignored and denied by the Chinese). A lot of “ancient Chinese knowledge” actually came from ancient Indian manuscripts, held in Tibet over centuries, or spirited out of China by its inveterate “travellers” (like a lot of modern Chinese IP comes from stolen western knowledge)!
    Even a casual look at the geography of Asia (in the 1950s) would have made it obvious that from a strategic rivalry perspective, only two nations stand out, India and China. For a nation that covets “global dominance”, having a strategic rival in Asia is anathema (please remember the official paper by a Chinese think-tank that China should split asunder India into 20-25 statelets!). The Chinese have very seriously offered to the US that they split their “zones of dominance” over the Pacific at the Hawaiian islands, west of Hawaii for China and east of it for the US, Atlantic for the US, and Indian ocean for China (the other thing that irritates the Chinese no end is that an ocean is named after India, therefore their statement that “the Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean” – although they see nothing wrong in saying South China Sea is a “core” interest for China, and thereby obviously being “China’s Sea”).
    The India-China hyphenation (Chindia), which China has assiduously worked to jettison for the last 50 years, is becoming popular once again. The reason why they have cultivated Pakistan as a client state to do their bidding, the risk of Pakistani Jihad overflowing into Xinjiang notwithstanding, is only to ensure that the world continue to hyphenate India with Pakistan, and hence not with China. China can’t stand the thought of an India-China hyphenation.
    China only respects might, and hence the respect for the US, and grudgingly even Israel and to some extent Russia. China also loves “defiant spoilt brats”, and thereby the love for Pakistan, Burma, North Korea, Sudan, and recently even Iran (they do keep some very “august” company). They have studied and understood the Indian obsession with peace, which they see as a weakness, and do not respect anything about India. Hence the utter disdain with which they treat Indian sensitivities (be it stapled visas for Kashmiris, blocking loans for projects in Arunachal, etc.). India does not even have the guts to ask China that if they have accepted the McMohan line as border with Burma (Myanmar), then why is the same principle not applicable for India?
    India’s chaotic democracy, despite its obvious shortcomings, is still not preventing our economy from growing fast, and threatening to rival and potentially even overtake the Chinese growth rates (despite their fudged numbers). The world then sees India as a beacon for smaller countries and offering a better development template than what China can. The Chinese cringe at this thought (if only they could make India disappear)! The handsome support received by India for the non-permanent membership of the UNSC, and the embarrassingly desperate attempts made by China to block the NSG vote, bear testimony to this (so much for China claiming that it doesn’t care much for India).
    India’s humanistic offer of asylum to the Dalai Lama is seen as a direct affront to China, and they would actually want us to hand over this “splittist” to them so they could torture him in one of their “gulags”, or frankly just bump him off! India has not only kept him and the Tibetan culture alive, with respect and dignity, but this has also allowed the Dalai Lama to build up his global profile, including getting the Nobel Peace Prize! This does not allow China to pretend that it does not have a “Tibet” problem. They forget, that there is no precedent of this kind of benign support given by any nation to its strategic rival, and India has never ever used Tibet to create trouble for China (although that is a shortcoming of India and not a strength).
    India’s obviously superior entrepreneurial culture, accentuated by the freedom its people enjoy, has allowed for the creation of world-class companies that are respected all over the world. China, in contrast, and although it is able to show much bigger financial muscle, is only able to showcase its “state-funded” and protected public enterprises (SOEs). It notices the welcome say the Tatas get when they takeover a western company (JLR) as compared to the fear and protectionism they meet when Chinese companies try to takeover an entity (e.g. Rio Tinto). They just don’t get it that the world doesn’t trust them with its IP!
    One of the biggest issues the world is facing today, in light of Huntington’s infamous “clash of civilizations” theory, is the ability of different people to live together in peace and harmony. Modern India is one of the largest and most important “social experiments” taking place on the planet today, where such a large and diversified set of people are living together, largely in peace, despite the periodic problems that crop up. Again, China’s inability to peacefully integrate the restive populations of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, despite being more than 95% Han Chinese, stands out in absolute contrast. It can pretend that the world cannot see the horrific persecution going on, but the world can see, but keeping quiet out of fear! While the world applauds China’s sparkling infrastructure, its abject failure on the social side, is once again an area where India makes China look small, and the Chinese don’t like it!
    It is too much for the Chinese egotistical sensibility to accept that anyone anywhere can do anything better than them. They have historically made some allowances for western powers, essentially because China itself acknowledges that it went through a period of weakness due to these western powers, over the past 250 years, and is now re-emerging from it. The Indian success in the area of software, services and even a few areas of “design-intensive” manufacturing (e.g. automobile components), is not easy for the Chinese to swallow. While they have been very comfortable with the thought of “stealing” intellectual property from the west (which they have almost turned into an art form), the idea of having to do the same thing from “Indian” companies (IT, Telecom and automobile components) is particularly abhorrent, but is being done nonetheless.
    Lastly, and definitely not the least, the Chinese need a “case study” to demonstrate its power to the world, and what it can do to a country that may hold “illusions” of being able to stand up to China. This is so that no other country should have the guts to stand up against them, in this “Chinese century”, where it plans to be the “sole superpower”. They believe that this time round, the sun will never set on the Chinese empire (sound familiar)! There is no better candidate than India, from a perspective of size, potential, and brittleness, for China to demonstrate this power.
    Unfortunately for us, we are their neighbours, and China is out to teach us a lesson of a lifetime.

    So now let’s take a look at what China has already done, from an India-specific perspective, over the last 60 years. Let’s start with the 1962 war. The Indian public has not been able to figure out why exactly China attacked us in 1962, apparently for a piece of land where not even a “blade of grass grows” (as Nehru had tried to justify our loss).

    Some of the reasons why China attacked us in 1962 are as follows:

    Demonstrate to the Soviet Union (which was a regional hegemonic power in those days, and had got India into its orbit of influence) that it can attack India with disdain, and despite them moving their forces to the Chinese border (near Inner Mongolia), give India a bloody nose! It was also a message to the other littoral states of China, that if India can be attacked, despite its size and the protective umbrella of the Soviet Union, they stood no chance against China (a message well received by say Vietnam and South Korea!).
    Grab Aksai Chin, yes, remember for the road project from Xinjiang to Tibet, (and as well all know, roads require land)!
    Test out their battle doctrine of successfully attacking India’s north-east over the Himalayas from the north of Arunachal, and the pincer movement from the south-west (across the territory of Burma – something very few Indians know about), and then tactically withdraw, to take the new knowledge into their “war games” drawing rooms. Their long term aim is to definitively detach India’s north-east, and either incorporate into China, or create independent “statelets” beholden to China (the Naga separatists please note). Sorry for not mentioning before and being hugely politically incorrect, in the Chinese framework, any region consisting of people with mongoloid features is fair game, and yes of course, they historically always “belonged” to China.
    Get a sense of how India goes to war. Is it able to fight? Is it able to call upon its allies? Is it able to use all its resources? Can they successfully leverage their fifth columnists (the left parties) within India to disrupt and cause confusion (and yes, this was a resounding success).
    The only one fear that the Chinese had was if India used its air force and navy (which were vastly superior in those days) to disrupt the Chinese supply lines, which were dangerously over-stretched and vulnerable, as there were no railway lines to the border (like they are putting in place now). As expected, India in all its wisdom did not use its air force, and what could have been an evenly-matched battle (despite the shortage of arms and ammunition), turned out to be totally one-sided, and a national humiliation (please read the book “Himalayan Blunder” for more).
    The Chinese wanted to know whether India could or would disrupt Chinese fuel-supply lines in the straits of Malacca (which we could have but didn’t), a stratagem we later so brilliantly executed, and blocked Karachi harbour in 1971!
    They wanted to test our leadership, which came out to be truly wanting, and validated the Chinese assumption, that a pacifist India, does not have the gumption to defend itself with full vigour, even when attacked (this was proven once again in the Kargil war, the battle plans for which I am sure were whetted by Chinese Generals also – Proof: Parvez Musharraf visited China immediately before and again during the Kargil War).
    So what else has China been doing since 1962, which has been obvious to even casual observers, but not to India’s ostrich-like and corrupt political leadership? Some of their actions have been as follows:

    They have dramatically upgraded the infrastructure on their side of the Himalayas in the form of rail, road, airstrips, missile silos, etc. Even the recent activities in Gilgit, which although have an economic rational also (access to Gwadar port) but have a pure military angle behind it (they are less than 100 kms from Ladakh from there and with good roads; if Pakistan could create such severe problems for us during Kargil on NH 1A just by more accurate shelling, wait till you have the Chinese crawling all over Ladakh).
    They have fully effected their “string of pearls” strategy around India, a few pointers being Gwadar, Coco Islands, Hanamkonda, Trincomallee, another port in Burma, Cox’s Bazaar, rail lines to Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, etc.
    They have reactivated their support to the north-east rebels (evidence is that their leadership is now based more in Burma than Bangladesh).
    The dominance over Pakistan is complete, especially now with the US tiring of its duplicity, the new nuclear reactors (in defiance of NSG), control over Gilgit (where they have set up missile silos), transfer of missile technology, almost directly conducting Pakistan’s nuclear explosions (in response to India’s tests), transfer of latest fighter aircrafts (based on stolen Russian designs anyway), etc.
    The support to the Indian Naxals, through the Nepali Marxists and Communist apologists within India, which can be activated to create chaos, during a war situation.
    So what are China’s objectives against India now?

    On a maximalist basis, to split India into multiple statelets, so that the potential strategic rival is eliminated permanently.
    Definitely detach India’s entire northeast, by exploiting the Chicken’s neck vulnerability (what a strategic disaster this is, and India has been sleeping on it, rather than trying to set it right, or frankly should not have accepted it all in the first place, by exchanging territory with East Pakistan / Bangladesh, when Jessore and CHT were needlessly handed over to them, for nothing in return).
    Give another “bloody nose” to India as to nip in the bud, the India-China hyphenation that has started happening once again.
    Undo India’s already severely limited hegemony over South Asia also, so that even its neighbours are not convinced that India will come to its aid in times of need, and that they don’t need to do its bidding, hence keeping India bogged down in the quagmire that South Asia has anyway become.
    Have total dominance over the Indian Ocean, so that China’s energy security is never threatened, and that it can in turn threaten India’s energy security. Even an idiot can see that India’s geographic location makes it imperative that it should strategically dominate the Indian Ocean; and if it doesn’t, then the ocean itself can become the most vulnerable point of attack against India. In any case, India has never cultivated the strategic foresight of say the Cholas who had realized and exploited the importance of sea power. Its “north India” dominated political culture has always had a “Khyber Pass” mentality, that as in the past, all security threats will only come to the Indo-gangetic plains, and from the north-west (which too we have not been able to protect – for example the loss of the strategic Haji Pir Pass in Kashmir, but that’s another story).
    Capture Tawang, as in the post Dalai Lama battle for controlling the fallout on Tibet, China would want to present the next Dalai Lama as having been born in China (this was the reason to test out the attack on Tawang in 1962). Ideally it would also want to annexe another one of the holiest monasteries in Ladakh, and the one in Sikkim. The post Dalai Lama phase of the Tibetan struggle is something that China has been planning over at least 50 years, and mark my words, they will not get it wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Dalai Lama refuses to die, and has threatened to live for a hundred years (i.e. another 20 years), but China has a lot of patience, and the “breeding-them-out” programme in any case continues in Tibet, uninterrupted.
    China also realizes that it probably has only five more years to achieve its objectives against India. India’s rising global stature, its GDP growth rates potentially surpassing that of China, the rise of a new, younger, right-wing and more risk-taking political leadership, its own greying population, the potent convergence of India’s security objectives with countries like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, etc., will increasingly make it more difficult for them, if delayed beyond 2015.

    The gut-feel of many analysts is that 2012 is likely to be a flashpoint year between India and China, for the following reasons:

    Political mess that is likely to emerge in the US, as a tired and weary Obama, who “lost” the Af-Pak war may not be put up for re-election by the Democratic Party, and the front-runner from the Conservative Party, as of now, is Sarah Palin, whose foreign policy experience is limited to a good “view” of Russia from across the waters in Alaska!
    Mess that would have been created in Af-Pak with the partial withdrawal of NATO forces (and the psychological victory of Taliban, and yes don’t forget, its patron, Pakistan)
    The steroid-pumped Pakistan (with US arms and aid), crazed by its “victory” over the other superpower (after “defeating” the Soviets), would now hit out at its mortal enemy India, with full force
    Likelihood of Manmohan Singh stepping down in favour of either Rahul Gandhi, or another “weak” and inexperienced candidate as the PM of India, creating further policy confusion and “learning time”!
    These and other such factors will create a veritable cocktail of disaster for India, maximising its vulnerability, and providing a golden opportunity to China for achieving its objectives, and China, unlike India, doesn’t miss opportunities (A wag of course had once said that India never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and it would have even been funny, if it were not a potential life-and-death struggle for India).

    To test whether India has been weakened enough or not, and whether it is ripe for a Chinese attack, a “dirty-bomb” could be launched by “non-state” actors from Pakistan, while the “Government of Pakistan” would maintain its infamous “plausible deniability” (which they have turned into an art-form over 60 years, and now fool even the US). India’s weak-kneed response (as ably demonstrated during the aftermath of the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, and reconfirmed by the Wikileaks expose) could be the final test and go-ahead for the Chinese plans.

    To achieve the above objectives, China’s likely course of action for a short, quick and bloody war, could be as follows:

    The next “war” for the defence of India will be a “three-front” war, all activated by China – viz the Pakistani border, the Chinese border (which itself is huge) and the internal “red corridor” of the Naxals, and the fifth (leftists) columnists within India.
    China has war-gamed enough ways in which to hit India in the vulnerable Chickens neck, from the north across Tawang, and the south-east from the Burmese border (please read Bharat Verma’s article)
    China has already tested out anti-sat systems to hit India’s satellites and majorly disrupt its “eyes-and-ears” during the war. These anti-sat systems also double up as anti-missile systems, and hence India’s puny missile attack of Agnis and Prithvis could be easily deactivated.
    Simultaneously, the two divisions of “hackers” (nearly 2 million strong), would then be activated to hit India’s defence and economic nerve-centres (stock markets, media, etc.), to further the chaos in the country.
    The Indian ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal will be crawling with China’s nuke submarines, to launch an obliterating attack, even if one of India’s missile were to get through to mainland China, from across the Himalayas (a tough ask in any case).
    There are two other very scary plans which China has drawn up for India, both of which have been leaked into the public domain. They are as follows:

    Nuking the Himalayas and creating a 5 km wide flatland in between the mountain ranges, so that the monsoon winds which become bone-dry by the time they cross over to the Gobi Desert, can pass through, and carry rain to these parched lands, which China needs to house its population (water was the primary reason for capturing Tibet, and not to “free the serfs” as has been disingenuously argued).
    Nuking the “big-bend” in the course of the Brahmaputra, a spot in Tibet where the river takes a sharp U-turn and enters India, which can be disguised as an earthquake, and then presented to India as a fait accompli of a changed course of the river, and make it flow into its own parched lands.
    If these two dangerous plans have somehow come into the public space, one just wonders what other plans this paranoid country has drawn up for India, which have not come out in the open as yet.
    Now, all these plans sound too “fantastic” to be actually implemented by any country, and could be considered alarmist. Anyone who has seen the single-track mind with which China has built the Three Gorges dam, the rail track to Lhasa, and now the road through Gilgit, needs to think twice, and get really really scared, because if there is one country that can and will execute these plains, with total disdain for world opinion, it is China!
    So, even if some parts of the above scenario are remotely likely to be played out, then India has a big big problem on its hands! So what should India do about this? Uptil now, except for the baby-steps of activating some landing-strips, building some roads, raising two mountain divisions, we have not done anything much. Apologists will point out that the India of today is not the India of 1962, but we should also be aware that the China of today is definitely not the China of 1962, more rabid and much more confident that it can get away with anything.

    So what should India do?

    Firstly, India is sleeping and blissfully unaware of the security threats to its existence and its way of life, primarily from two countries (China and Pakistan) that share a visceral hatred for it, and have converging strategic interests, with one becoming a supplicant to the other. India is somehow convinced that pampering them with moralistic talk about peace (Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai and the Wagah candlewalls), will ultimately bring about a change in behaviour, and they will also become pacifists like us (modelling themselves on Moinuddin Chishti for one, and Confucious for the other). India doesn’t realize that the role models for them are different, Mahmud Ghazni for one and Sun Tzu for the other! India needs to understand that it has an existential battle on its hands. India’s politicos have never understood geo-politics, or frankly never even understood the need to understand geo-politics. The strategic blunders committed by India over the last 60 years are legion, and do not deserve repetition here, but one must read (Seven blunders that will haunt India for posterity) for some understanding of this.

    The two major parties of India, who are ostensibly the natural claimants for governance, the BJP and the Congress, need to take the lead in understanding this issue, and taking a “nation first” approach to this problem. Instead of dismissing strategic thinkers as “retired drum-beaters of war”, learn to engage with them and get a better understanding of the strategic issues facing India, and develop a long-term plan (although frankly we do not have much time on hand) to tackle this, so that a change in government does not torpedo the plan.

    Secondly, we need to realize that there is a global disconcert with the aggressive rise of China, and its power-play against most of its neighbours. If India has something to fear, frankly, so do Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia and the Philippines (for starters). Although they don’t realize it as yet, the US and Russia are also equally and deeply threatened. China covets Russia’s far east Siberian territories, under the flawed “justification” of lebensraum (the people there also have Mongoloid features), but actually it is to get access to the waters of the Arctic and threaten Japan from the north. As far as the US is concerned, China knows that it has to dethrone the US to become the unchallenged superpower, as it is convinced that this is China’s century, in as much as the US knew that it had to dethrone Great Britain.

    Coincidentally, all of these countries are democracies, and history has shown that they normally don’t go to war against one another. India needs to build a coalition of these democracies, at the very least to come to each other’s aid, if attacked by China, as many hands are needed to quieten a crazed “bull-in-a-china-shop” (wonder where the expression came from). Japan was a great military power, and the debilitating conditions that the US put on them post the second world war, has sapped the fighting energy from it, to almost becoming a hollow-image of its past (the way in which Japan capitulated in the recent stand-off in the South China Sea confirms this). The world needs to awaken that military spirit in Japan, so that it can not only defend itself, but also help defend the free world. Given its colonial history over China, do not underestimate either China’s desire to hit-back at Japan, or the value of Japan in eventually controlling China.

    Finally, India needs to prepare for defending itself, like never before, as it is not a question of whether but when this would happen. Besides a faster implementation of some of the steps that have already been initiated, other ideas for specific action are as follows:

    Plan and prepare counter-measures for cyber attacks from China that could cripple our command and control systems, and create chaos in general. I don’t think we have even contemplated such attacks, let alone taken effective counter-measures. The help of top Indian IT firms needs to be taken in this, as the government and the armed forces do not have this capability. Test out these measures in a real-life scenario.
    The eastern and western seaboard makes us very vulnerable to attack from a superior force – particularly aircraft carriers (which China is close to acquiring) and nuclear attack submarines (where China has huge superiority). We have this “Khyber Pass” mindset of over thousand years, and do not exploit our sea boundaries effectively, either for power projection and let alone defensive strategies (maybe because of the distance from Delhi). We need to fast-track the acquisition of aircraft carriers (at least three) and nuclear submarines (at least eight). We must understand that with our self-declared no-first use policy, and proximity to China, from the triad of our nuclear delivery systems, the one most likely to survive an all-out attack from China are the submarines, hence they have immense deterrence value.
    Map out the Burmese border, build our defences (including roads, and fencing it), build it into our defensive doctrine, as if China attacks the north-east again, this border will definitely be used. Today we are almost sitting ducks on that flank!
    Chickens neck is a known vulnerability, and I am not sure whether we have war-gamed enough on attack possibilities and choking over there – we need to talk to Bangladesh and thru some territory swap agreements, expand that “neck” area. Activate the alternative river-route to the north-east from Burma, as that can be a life-and-death facility, if the Chickens’ neck is lost! Conclude the road transit agreement with Bangladesh at the earliest and build a close strategic relationship with them, firstly so that they don’t go with China (like Burma has) and secondly we will need them very badly in case of war.
    Build full-fledged strike air-bases to hit Chinese supply lines, both in Tibet and in Gilgit. Even though the Chinese have got air and naval superiority over us at present, in battle, our real saviours will still be these two arms of the defence forces, much more than the army.
    Undo the damage done to the defence procurement programme over the past few decades. India can just about win a war against Pakistan with its current readiness, and stands no chance against China.
    Build naval and air defence infrastructure in Lakshwadweep side also, as an attacking Chinese navy will destroy Andamans first. We need a second line of defence.
    There are obviously many more steps that need to be taken.

    I am not a sinophobe (and defintely not a sinophile), but I think that China is a nation that carries very long memories, feels a great sense of insult from the world, feels it deserves to be the leader of the world, and is willing to attack if required (I believe the term they use for the 1962 war is self-defence proactive attack – or something like that). In their history books, they do not even talk about the 1962 war (calling it a small border skirmish and we still get teary-eyed about “ghayal hua Himalaya”). They are masters of psy-ops, and one way to break our spirit is to try and convince us that we don’t even exist in their strategic calculus, although all evidence points towards them planning for offence.

    The stock response that one gets to such articles on China’s intentions is that this is hyperbole and an alarmist reaction. Why would China want to endanger its economic growth and standing in the world, by initiating war with any other country. The reason why this doesn’t wash is because a democratic government wants development for the benefit of its people. The “slave-labour” kind of environment in Chinese factories and the lack of focus on building “consumption” (and thereby a peaceful and happier people) makes one wonder as to what the Communist party intends to do, once they have grown strong enough. The scale and pace of weaponisation in China is not defensive, but clearly offensive (as the hacker army proves). Its democratic governments that hesitate to declare war unnecessarily, as they will be voted out of power. Autocratic governments have no such compunctions.

    One also hears that despite the Indian fear, India is just not “high enough” in the list of priorities for China! The pincer movement being affected by China to encircle India obviously belies that claim. If we were not important enough for China, why were we attacked in 1962! Loudly stating that India is not important enough is itself a classic Sun Tzu tactic of lulling the enemy before striking – and fortunately for China, it is very easy to lull a pacifist India to sleep! In any case, one doesn’t expect the Chinese to read something like this article and say, wow, this is so true and we are planning on attacking India! This is more for Indians to read and become more aware and for Indian politicos to get alarmed.

    The Chinese also know that we have become a nation of genuflectors, who submit dossiers to countries who conduct an act of war against us. Chinese troops in Gilgit are also an act of war against India – and we are quiet about it. We are still ascertaining whether they are actually there, after we learnt of the news from the TV channels. We need to be really really scared. Vajpayee had once said that in this fight we are all alone – and it is true. The Chinese chickens are coming home to roost!

    I am an “arm-chair” strategist, and hence would love to be proven wrong, and really wish that someone who knows what he is talking about dismisses my comments as alarmist, as then it will actually give me a lot of peace as an Indian citizen. We are an India that has too deeply internalized the peaceful concepts of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and yes there is a place for these too in the world. We probably have lost sight of the concepts of the Bhagwad Geeta and Chanakya, who talked about waging war for achieving peace. We need a balance between these two concepts, so that the idea of India, which we all so deeply love, does not get lost due to the unfortunate actions of “frankensteinian nations”. Funnily, both of these two Frankensteins (Pakistan and China) have been created by our “friend” the United States, one was created to help defeat the Soviets, and the other has been created to control inflation in the US and provide cheap goods to the American consumer. What a price the world is having to pay for this folly!

    I would like to end this essay with a reminder that as per the Mayan calendar, the world will end in 2012! Is the world mentally preparing itself for an Armageddon?

    I remain a very concerned and patriotic Indian!

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
  4. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Likes Received:
    many thanks for a long post - with many issues touched upon and i guess rightly so - but what about from hereon ( not that it might not have been mentioned in the post ) . My take is that just as pak holds india to a standstill on a basic one-point nuclear issue ( and the ability and willingness to deliver ) so too india can hold some other troublesome neighbour to task by the same . Just a matter of withdrawing the non-first use of nukes and a serious statement that an attack on the border constitutes an attack on the whole. It's time for india to make the change from the pacifist image of the past to something a lot more pro-active and the posturing is a matter that makes a lot of difference with china. But anyway let's see after this high level visit of chinese leaders - although my prediction is that they will smile their way thorugh, call india an old friend ana all of that but after the visit it will still be stapled visas etc , no change from the present status quo . New more aggressive posturing is required !

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