Dec 05, 2023
Dec 05, 2023
Evolution has many lessons to teach us about defense strategy and international relations. Nehru in his ignorance of biology and general na'vet' went ga ga about Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (Asian universal brotherhood) as did Gandhi in his dealings with Pakistan. The three India Pakistan wars and the India China war of 1962 confirmed their foolishness.
The evolutionary parallel is the height of trees in a forest. All trees need sunlight to use their chlorophyll to generate nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. It would make sense for any tree to restrain the waste in energy consumption by restricting its height and spend its resources on its leaves, roots, flowers or seeds as they will ensure a long healthy life and improved chances of fruitful progeny. Growing tall is energy costly because of longer trunks that have to be sturdy enough to withstand winds that will snap them if they are not thick enough. Trees do not exceed 350 feet in height, as the thickest trunks they can muster would snap by fast wind shear forces produced by the swaying of the trunks. If the trees in a new forest could only come to a friendly non-rivalry understanding to keep their heights modest (say 25 feet) they would save a lot of energy and channel it more usefully and productively.
The problem in nature and evolution is that every creature tries to maximize its own survival except in limited cases of kin (best example are social insects) and reciprocal altruism (vampire bats regurgitating a blood meal). That is why each tree not trusting others to follow restraint, grows taller and competing trees follow.
It is like the increasing defense expenditures of the US, Russia, Japan, China, India and Pakistan, all running to get ahead but staying in the same relative place irrespective of increased effort and expenditure. When push comes to shove, selfish individuals and nations neglect even children, spouses and relatives or citizens respectively, (individuals) as in trophy younger second wives, Clinton oval office liaisons and nations starting wars (US in Iraq, Panama, Granada etc.), so powerful is sexual libido and hunger for power. There is no international court of justice with genuine punishing power and no accepted code of ethical international behavior, so international relations are a Hobbesian hell with rules of the jungle. That is why the European nations indulged in slave trading, genocide and colonial exploitation in the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Russia and the US for centuries have expanded their empires and even today America preemptively attacks other nations militarily without cause or justification just as the Persians, Alexander, Romans, Arab Muslims, Mongols and the Europeans did before. Thus unilateral neglect of national military in Nehruvian style led to China's successful and Pakistan's unsuccessful attacks.
The possession of nuclear weapons despite their cost and terrible effects tend to prevent full scale wars. It led to the Mutually Assured Destruction of detente between the US and USSR and may do the same between India, China and Pakistan. That is why none of the original nuclear five UN Security Council permanent members will ever give up nuclear weapons in spite of their avowed promise to do so according to the NPT that they have signed. That is why Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons and the US and Israel threaten it and even India voted against it at the IAEA. That is why North Korea has acquired them. Nuclear weapons lead aggressor or hostile nations to seek other means for destroying their adversaries.
The strangler fig, a common Indian tree uses another subterfuge. It begins life as a climbing vine which winds round the trunk of a tall tree to seek sunlight. These vines literally form a scaffolding around the host tree and its major branches and then gradually thicken and send downward projections to the ground and beneath it as thickening roots. Eventually the strangler actually strangles the host tree, killing it and replacing it from the canopy to the ground.
This is what the US tries to do with Cuba and other disobedient countries in Latin America, Syria and North Korea by embargoes. Another technique is the Salami tactic in which pieces of a country are sliced off to reduce its power and geography. The US did this with Mexico by taking the US southwest, separating Panama from Colombia, permanently occupying Guantanamo in Cuba and presently bases in Iraq.
India did the same with Bangladesh when opportunity arose due to Pakistan military atrocities on its east wing and Mujibur Rahman.
Britain has played the divide and rule strategy in the partition of India, separating Kuwait from Iraq, the Biafran war in Nigeria and other cases.
Apartheid South Africa tried it with Bantustans and Israel plays the same game in the occupied West Bank.
In nature predators attack the weakest of the herd to isolate, kill and consume them and rivals for sex do this by killing the infants of another power to get the mother back to fertility to sire a new brood.
US and European tactics of supporting obedient client governments the world over (Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Pakistan etc.) while killing or exiling the opposition is similar.
Currently, the occupation of Kargil, the terrorist attacks in various Indian cities and the Chinese incursions in Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal are a form of war by other means. The mighty US military machine mired down in the swamps of Afghanistan and Iraq in a losing situation, should teach India that newest planes, ships, tanks, missiles, guns etc. will not solve the problem. That is not to say that we should not get Phalcon AWACS, C-130Js, newest self propelled howitzers, T-90 tanks, Vikramaditya, new aircraft and an ABM defense. Cruise missiles and submarines make our ships and aircraft carriers highly vulnerable to becoming expensive losses.
Another evolutionary strategy is advertisement as deterrent. The fanning of a cobra's ribs into a menacing hood, pilo-motor erection to look more formidable and bright iridescent coloring to warn predators that the animal is poisonous as done by poisonous frogs and butterflies or porcupine spines are warning signs. We use home and car burglar alarms for the same purpose.
India is doing these things by having airbases in Ladakh, northeast and possibly Tajikistan, but we need a ring of airbases along the Chinese, Pakistan and Bangladesh border with adequate high tech multi-role combat aircraft. These bases must have air reconnaissance assets as well as artillery and armor where logistically feasible. India is finally buying substantial numbers of attack helicopters. We need to improve road and rail logistics for supply of these high altitude bases. A joint air and naval base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands is a good step to cover the Straits of Malacca but more are needed at the Laccadive islands and strung along at 500 mile intervals along the entire coastline of the west and east. There should be submarines based at each of those bases. India needs to have at least 25 modern attack submarines and half a dozen nuclear ones with nuclear MRBMs.
A sea based nuclear missile complement is the surest deterrence by having a devastating retaliatory capability. India is finally acquiring indigenous technology capability. In the past it bought assembled equipment and foolishly let its submarine building expertise lapse after the German HDW submarine deal. The expenditure on anti-ballistic missiles is of uncertain and questionable value. Not even advanced countries like the US, Russia or Israel have a reliable anti-missile missile defense. India with limited resources should concentrate on neutralizing the salami tactics of Pakistan by preventing terrorist infiltration and repeated probing by the Chinese. We need better UAVs, sensors and radars to nip these in the bud by prompt detection of border encroachment with effective rapid response by adequately armed teams.
China's string of pearls strategy has brought it ports on the coast of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which can be used for monitoring and if necessary disrupting Indian air and naval communications and effectiveness. Thus Indian air and naval assets have to be buttressed to counter that with strong and diffuse ASW anti-ship warfare assets by logistically adequate submarines, helicopters and fixed wing planes like the latest ones ordered from Boeing (double or triple the eight ordered are needed). It is highly unlikely that a full scale land battle with ground attack aircraft, tanks, artillery, rockets and infantry will be undertaken by China, Pakistan or Bangladesh, so excessive beefing up of the army at the cost of depriving the air-force and navy is not a good idea.
The Muslim citizens of India in Kargil alerted the Indian army whose intelligence gatherers and scouts were asleep at the job during winter. That is totally unacceptable. Repeal of article 370 and following China's population demographics in Tibet and Sinkiang is necessary not because of religious bigotry but in a country like India with fissiparous tendencies based on language, ethnicity and religion, we need mixed populations to prevent ignorant unthinking bigots like Thackeray and Khalistanis from having a captive, overwhelming majority susceptible audience to exploit. Look what the Kashmiri separatist terrorists did to the Kashmiri Hindu pandits.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD