India’s Place in Australia’s National Defense Strategy 2024
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India’s Place in Australia’s National Defense Strategy 2024


APLN member Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan argues that the pace of growth in the Australia-India strategic relationship is quite impressive, but New Delhi’s hesitance on hard security issues may hamper further developments.

In managing the evolving situation in the Indian Ocean region, the strategy identifies India as a “top-tier security partner for Australia” and adds that through the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, Australia “is continuing to prioritize practical and tangible cooperation that directly contributes to Indo-Pacific stability.” In this regard, it added that Canberra “will continue to support India’s key role in the region by increasing the depth and complexity of our defense cooperation” including through both “bilateral and multilateral cooperation, defense industry cooperation and information sharing.” The strategy also refers to the worrying trends in India-Pakistan and India-China relations, which also carry “the risk of nuclear weapons use or proliferation a factor in each potential flashpoint.”

On the other hand, Australia’s growing concerns about China also mean that it is tightening security partnerships. With AUKUS and the Australia-Japan security cooperation agreement, Canberra is clearly getting more serious about augmenting its defense capabilities, as well as enhancing military flexibility and interoperability with key partners. There are several more bilateral and other agreements coming up in the Indo-Pacific, as efforts intensify to bring more capable powers from beyond the region to build up the military muscle in the Indo-Pacific. European powers such as France and the U.K. have demonstrated their interests in contributing to maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific. While these are not meant to replace the Quad, there is a potential danger of the Quad becoming less relevant because other agreements have gained a lot more teeth in dealing with the hard security issues in the Indo-Pacific.

Considering that Australia is tightening its partnerships, the question is whether India is as important to Australia as some of these other partners. It is possible that the Quad is losing some of its focus on traditional hard security issues because of India’s reservations. This, in turn, could potentially be creating an incentive for India’s partners – Australia, but also Japan and the United States – to look to other regional arrangements that are more suited to their security requirements. Over time, this raises the risk that the Quad could become just a talk-shop with limited utility, while India’s other Quad partners look elsewhere.

Read the full article here.

Image: iStock/Oleksii Liskonih

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