NATO with brains

Reader Amit Kulkarni calls attention to the recent warming of strategic-security ties between the United States and India.

There is now a realisation in US strategic circles that this triangulation could hold the key to future world power, not with black gold (oil), the 20th century’s currency, but with grey cells or intellectual capital.

The three countries are expected to have some 300 million educated elites between them in the next three decades, making it a giant intellectual bloc.[Times of India]

We may be looking at the embryonic stage of a reshaped 21st century world here. While NATO continues to be a strong military alliance, there is some introspection (sometimes of a very public nature) as to its future role, now that the Warsaw Pact is consigned to the history books. Unlike the Cold War days, the today’s EU does not face the threat of Soviet tanks rolling across the plains of East Germany or Poland and invading western Europe. Indeed the new EU sees itself as a strategic counterbalance to the United States, which is one reason Britain is torn between its geography and its sympathies. The EU may yet decide to beef up its own military force – independently of NATO.

The United States needs strong long-term allies, just as India does. Unlike many of its third world allies during the Cold War, US public opinion need not hold its nose while considering its alliance with India. The alliance between the world’s most powerful democracy and the world’s most populous one could very well form the foundation of the security order for the 21st century. [Related Link: Joint Statement of the India-US Defense Policy Group]

In the meantime, the recently concluded India-US joint air exercises (Cope India 2004) give the IAF the required operational experience in handling US-made fighter aircraft, in this case the F-15Cs. That’s because nuclear capabilities of our recently reformed (but frequently recalcitrant) neighbour depend on these aircraft for their delivery capability. It will be good to see F-16s and F-22s will be included in future exercises.

Digression: Unless kamikaze warfare has become an accepted military tactic, India will do well to scrap those flying coffins which are a hazard to pilots and ordinary citizens. While the IAF is proudly displaying its strengths and capabilities at the Asian Aerospace 2004 show in Singapore, its rickety old MiG-21s are falling apart in the sky with alarming regularity.