Unshackle India's Strategic Thinking

As India is all set to ink the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the United States, it must revisit its history while formulating the current policy of military-to-military ties with the US. India's strategy must address the issue of freedom from Western thought and question imperial alignments ingrained in such defence agreements.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Humpty Dumpty is asked why he gives different meanings to commonly used words. He replies, “when I use a word, ... it means just what I choose it to mean.” Such comic confidence is on display in abundance in geopolitical memes that originate from the West. Since 2008, the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific have been integrated into a single strategic entity and named “Indo–Pacific” by the Americans. The British did the same during World War II, when “Far East” was conveniently used to describe their military operations extending from the Solomon Islands to the frontiers of Burma and India (Hubbard 1944: 179).

However, more comical is the ease with which such idea-memes like “Indo–Pacific” and “net-security provider” get replicated in the strategic discourse of “great power” aspirants like India. The net result of this sustained mimicry is that India is now all set to ink the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States (US) in the coming months. Going by media reports, the LEMOA appears to be a watered-down version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the US signs with other military allies to facilitate smooth exchange of logistics support, supplies and services on a reciprocal basis. Many see the formalisation of the Indo–US military relationship as a great leap forward in making India a great power. It is presumed that these developments will open the floodgates to American military technology for the budding Indian military-industrial complex.

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