Rat's Nest
Bloggage, rants, and occasional notes of despair

The Final Alliance?

Way back on 4 June, Joe Katzman over at Winds of Change wrote an article about India's apparent intent to use the Admiral Gorshkov as a mobile nuclear command center, capable of surviving a nuclear first strike by Pakistan or China.  He includes an apparent throwaway line, that ought to make us aging Boomers sit up and take notice

An Indian naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam by 2010? Maybe.

Afterwards, on 18 June, Dan Hartung at Lake Effect, whilst somewhat (and not unreasonably) skeptical of the purported mission, also notes the alliance nucleating around India

It is instructive to look at India's allies, beyond the US (where apart from the Pakistan issue there are obvious interests both in common and not): Israel; South Africa; Australia; Vietnam; even Russia. Cobbled together from former Commonwealth siblings and the ex-Soviet "non-aligned nations" axis, it looks like a smart collection of players with serious intentions.

Smart and serious, indeed.  And we're a marginal player at best in this system.

I've said before that the U.S. does not possess a divine rescript guaranteeing that it will be the nucleus, or even the senior partner, in the Empire of the West.  The Indian system of alliances, without the U.S., has a decent chance of challenging us for military and political supremacy in this century, although not in this decade.  At the very least, it commits the world's "best and brightest", the very countries that we would most like to have allied with us, to a system that we play no part in.  The only country that would make a worthy ally that is not included in the list, IMHO, is Turkey; the only country that I have real doubts about is Vietnam, which has considerable potential but little actual development of that potential.  Depending on how close the rapprochement between India, Vietnam, and Australia is, we might have to bite the bullet in terms of Realpolitik and accept Vietnam as an ally.  We might do so reluctantly, but not grudgingly; if Vietnam is in, it's in, and we must act like it.

Uitlander188 commented that I ought to identify the four "most likely" polities, other than the U.S., for the nucleus of the forthcoming Empire.  I'd say this alliance -- indeed, any alliance or system of alliances that includes India, Russia, and Vietnam as members -- is second only to us, and can to my mind be a very close second indeed; if they are serious about acting as a stabilizing (note that "stabilizing" is not conceived of as synonymous with "democratizing") force in Asia, whilst we are not, the U.S. might run second to them.  China is a distant third; it could be a Great Power, even a superpower, but is a relatively thin veneer of high-tech fascism over an agrarian economy that has been technologically and economically stagnant for over half a century.  China may well be on the road that the XSSR took; a superpower largely in name and in the estimation of Western leftists, a Third World country with nuclear-tipped ICBMs.  The EU is an even more distant fourth; as a united federation, they could match the U.S. in population, economy, and, if they wished, military power -- today.  The EU is not truly united, however; an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels is attempting to ignore restive national populations, and not succeeding well.  Their political and social culture favors butter over guns to an extent that would likely be suicidal if they did not have the military shield of the U.S. to crouch behind, and their aging and shrinking population, with recruits coming almost entirely from unassimilated and hostile Muslims, means that are unlikely to be capable of closing the gap with us in the future.

And in fifth place?  No one that I can see.  Some capable alliance might arise -- a pan-Latin American alliance, say, or a new East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere dominated by a revanchist Japan -- but these are pure speculative fantasies.  No such appears on the horizon of foreseeable events.

John "Akatsukami" Braue Saturday, June 22, 2002