Call to admit India to NATO partnership to sever ties with Russia, confront China

The policy he is promoting, faithfully echoing as he does the global strategic plans of Washington and Brussels, is to end 74 years of Russian-Indian military cooperation, supplanting Moscow’s influence with the very military bloc established to oppose Russia and which now openly proclaims Russia its main adversary, so as to recruit India to an international crusade against China and Russia. Nothing less. Should that policy be effected, the world would witness the most dramatic – and most dangerous – geopolitical shift in history.

In an opinion piece appearing in the Hindustan Times of March 22, a former State Department official, A. Wess Mitchell, called for this year’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit to invite India, one of the world’s two most populous nations, to become a NATO partner, thereby joining 40 other partners throughout the world.

Mitchell was the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under the Donald Trump administration and is currently the co-chair of the NATO 2030 Reflection Process group preparing the alliance’s upcoming summit and the new Strategic Concept to be approved by it. As such Mitchell’s recommendation is no idle or academic one.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2018 he foreshadowed what has now become the U.S. administration’s main international strategic goal: to consolidate a global coalition centered around NATO to isolate and confront Russia and China simultaneously and in unison:

“Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest U.S. primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers.”

He also said on that occasion: “Our Russia policy proceeds from the recognition that, to be effective, U.S. diplomacy toward Russia must be backed by ‘military power that is second to none and fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power.’”

As to which mechanism would be employed to effect that purpose, he added that the U.S. had “worked with NATO Allies to bring about the largest European defense spending increase since the Cold War – a total of more than $40 billion to date.”

To which he elaborated further: “In addition to commitments from over half of the Alliance to meet NATO’s two-percent defense spending requirement by 2024, the United States achieved virtually all of our policy objectives at the NATO Summit, including the establishment of two new NATO Commands (including one here in the United States), the establishment of new counter-hybrid threat response teams, and major, multi-year initiatives to bolster the mobility, readiness, and capability of the Alliance.”

Although in the Hindustan Times column he dwells largely on threats posed by China, the above demonstrates that he advocates what is now the standard Biden administration and NATO strategy of identifying China and Russia as the two main adversaries of the former two’s so-called rules-based international order. It is to be the world against Russia and China if Mitchell, the White House and NATO have their way.

The title of the article is NATO: India’s next geopolitical destination. It first sentence reads: “When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders meet later this spring, they will debate the recommendations from a group of experts (which I co-chaired) that advocates, among other things, extending a formal offer of partnership to India.”

He invokes the military clashes of recent years between Chinese and Indian forces and the fact that China spends three times what India does on its military as concerns that might induce India to respond to a NATO partnership proposal.

Not unexpectedly, Mitchell highlights the role of what has recently been deemed the Quad in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Japan, South Korea and India. He doesn’t mention that the first three are founding members of NATO’s Partnership Across the Globe program, launched before the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012. Nor does he mention that there are no fewer than twenty NATO members and partners in the broader Asia-Pacific region, including six that border China (and two that border China and Russia: Kazakhstan and Mongolia).

Russia is to be ejected from the equation, although it has been India’s main ally and arms provider since India became an independent nation in 1947. The exclusive sales of NATO interoperable weapons to India would perhaps be the largest military hardware bonanza in history.

India is to be enticed to affiliate with “the world’s most powerful alliance” by the latter offering, if not full Article 5 mutual military assistance in any future conflict with China, some effective pledge of aid and threat of intervention by the global military bloc. In blunt geopolitical language that pulls no punches, Mitchell says NATO can offer “military-to-military planning, and joint exercises that improve readiness, interoperability and predictability”; and ‘in the event of a conflict, India would benefit from having prior planning and arrangements in place for cooperating with NATO and its Mediterranean partners (including Israel, with which India has a close strategic relationship) to secure its western flank and the approaches to the Red Sea.”

As there can be little doubt how NATO would react should Israel enter into armed conflict with Syria or Iran, for example, according to the author’s logic China similarly should know what to expect in any future conflict with an India that is a NATO partner.

In terms of carrot and stick, Mitchell added: “[A]dding NATO partner status could also position India to benefit from possible future programmes aimed at lowering the barriers for cooperation in emerging technologies between NATO and its Asia-Pacific partners. It could also help to offset the growing concerns and negative scrutiny that India is increasingly attracting in Congress for its disproportionate reliance on Russian military equipment.”

Russia out as strategic partner and arms supplier; NATO and the U.S. and Israel in. That is the simple equation.

The writer brushes aside the question of India’s neighbor and arch-adversary Pakistan, though fails to mention that Pakistan itself has been a NATO partner for nine years.

Mitchell further advocates – and as co-chair of the NATO 2030 Reflection Process team he is preeminently in a position to do such effectively – that “NATO leaders should extend to India an offer of opening partnership talks” and in doing so would be “seriously evaluating all of its tools, including partnerships, according to how well they equip its members for dealing with a new era of great-power competition in which large states such as China and Russia pose, by far, the greatest threat to their security.”

The policy he is promoting, faithfully echoing as he does the global strategic plans of Washington and Brussels, is to end 74 years of Russian-Indian military cooperation, supplanting Moscow’s influence with the very military bloc established to oppose Russia and which now openly proclaims Russia its main adversary, so as to recruit India to an international crusade against China and Russia. Nothing less. Should that policy be effected, the world would witness the most dramatic – and most dangerous – geopolitical shift in history.