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What Quad can learn from NATO’s Blunders?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 22, Mar 2022
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The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

  • Russian President Putin’s version is that it was a “special military operation”, akin to India’s police action against Hyderabad in 1948. 

What did the West fail to recognise?

  • Putin has had a dramatic rise in the political hierarchy of Moscow and his first two achievements were ignored by West
    • stabilisation and increase in oil production and export that hugely increased the Russian GDP, 
    • his successful suppression of the Chechnya revolt
  • West was busy with civilianising and militarily downgrading NATO.
  • As Eastern European nations clamoured to join the EU, the western leaders dismantled the military intellectual content of NATO headquarters, reducing NATO forces to a rapid reaction force under the political control of a civilian secretary-general. 
  • The West, therefore, failed to connect Putin’s invasion of Georgia with his continuing vision to fight the regime change in Ukraine in 2015.

What can the Quad learn from NATO? 

  • The Indo-Pacific is not continental Europe and war in the Indo-Pacific will be a maritime war fought in accordance with maritime strategy and space assets.
  • To call the Quad a “diplomatic grouping” is a similar error that NATO did by civilianising and militarily downgrading post 1991.
  • Confusing Beijing by calling it a diplomatic grouping will certainly lead to a misunderstanding of the Quad nations’ resolve and possible Chinese adventurism. 

What measures are needed to make QUAD more effective?

  • Quad is all about maritime domain awareness, underwater domain awareness, and information sharing — all of them purely naval activities, which need continuous communication.
  • QUAD because of significant role in maritime domain needs a command organisation and a secretariat, neither of which is there because it is a diplomatic grouping. 
  • The Quad needs to be represented by the owners of the maritime assets used to obtain domain awareness and a staff with command communications and a depth of intellectual planning.
  • Quad meetings should be headed by naval officers, with diplomatic support, so that they don’t produce irrelevant communiqués like the one in February 2022 that spoke of dealing with Covid, climate change and natural disasters.