First, as most of you all know, Quad is a military alliance that started as an exercise between the US & India and later expanded to include Japan and, in recent times, Australia.
Brazen and Mortar Military
The root of the alliance is in countering China. It was an existential threat (that’s partially demystified now, keep reading) for India, and a bulwark was essential to counter that threat. The US, too, required a strategic partner to counter the growing assertiveness of China. Thus was born the first Malabar exercise in the Indian ocean, for both the fleets to coordinate, in case of an imminent war. China’s belligerence towards the southeast nation is well known, but these countries were more worried about converting a covert threat to join the overt alliance. However, as the decade moved on, Senkaku island’s threats and the Chinese hegemony around the Japanese peninsula only expanded. Australia, a neutral trade partner too, was brashly maneuvered into an antithesis by Chinese bullying. Thus the formation of the Quad, once an alliance exclusively between India and the US.
If you take an inventory of the stock, you may realize, India is possibly 4-8 times smaller is the armada but several times motivated than the red brigade.
Motivation doesn’t help.
Well, in bras track, motivation is not enough. We have to have a strategy backed with firepower and, of course, minimal odds of inclement. Thus Quad was essential and critical. If it was critical for India, it was essential for the South China neighbors too.
Galway and Doklam
These two recent skirmishes have demystified the strength of the red army. China was sufficiently pushed back with the strategic and brute force of India. What was once a formidable army today has turned out to be a weakling, after all that happened in Ladakh. At least, my own internal awe for Chinese superiority has diminished significantly. However, having said that, China is still a threat to India, and it will be callous of India to let its guards down if I say Quad may not be required. China needs a pimp (like Pakistan) to support it masochism, so do the SE Asian nations need the Quad.
Is Quad enough?
My personal understanding is that China is a bigger cyber threat than mortar and bras-track (a physical army). Their capacities for espionage and cyber interventions are more lethal than their capability to attack and conquer physically. Thus, in a future war scenario, the initial salvo will be a cyberwar followed by incursion and control by the red army.
What’s the solution?
Five Eyes, Seven Eyes, and Nine Eyes intelligence sharing, backed up with Quad, is a pragmatic option. If we counter the cyberattacks and cyber incidences, that would be a starter alone. However, the defense is not the best strategy. Identifying and simulating attack strategies and building readiness thus forms a robust defense grid and provides a solid backbone.
Recently, China flew several sorties of its flying squad over Taiwan, asserting its might over a breakaway province. Of course, understanding those as war simulations, the US moved its fleet and armada closer to the Taiwan waters, only to frustrate China.
After the Galway (Ladhak) shame and the Doklam incident, I have realized the hollowness of the CPEC rhetoric. Thus, even if China said “it will be an act of war to support Taiwan’s separation,” I don’t think China has the might (definitely a hollowed right) to stake that claim.
Rhetorics and showcasing are a strategy, not an intent. The Quad and other South Asian neighbors are bored of these howling of the dragon.
Disclaimer: The above are my thoughts with allegiance or alliance of any writers guild or author/s.
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