India: Pursuing its National Interest in the Multipolar World

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Last week saw a flurry of visits to India by Russian, U.S., and British diplomats, each vying to influence India’s policy on Russian sanctions. Britain sent foreign secretary Liz Truss, the U.S. deputy national security advisor Daleep Singh, and Russia, foreign secretary Sergey Lavrov.

The U.S. demonstrated that it seems to have long since forgotten how to practice diplomacy. Or perhaps Singh never really learned in the first instance  According to Firstpost, US deputy NSA Daleep Singh’s threats of ‘consequences’ point to a fissure within Joe Biden administration on India.

Money quote:

Singh may be a whiz kid, but he is clearly a bad diplomat. His brief may have been to apprise India of the risks involved in carrying on energy trade with Russia and the moral opprobrium involved in such a move but his derogatory punchlines will define this trip.


More from Firstpost:

It has been interesting to watch the trip undertaken by US deputy national security advisor Daleep Singh to India. Singh, the great grand-nephew of Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian-American elected to the US Congress, came bearing a fearsome reputation as Joe Biden’s marksman who apparently single-handedly pierced Russia’s ‘sanctions-proof’ economy. 

Prior to his role as the deputy NSA for international economics and deputy director for the National Economic Council in the Biden administration, a job that gives him command over the vast policymaking spheres of supply chain resilience to economic statecraft and makes him one of the most powerful Indian-Americans in the US, Singh had a meaty position in the treasury department of the Barack Obama administration.

We were told that nobody messes with Singh and that he’s got the smarts and the intellect to waltz through the complexities of the international financial system. That Singh was being sent to India triggered a bit of cheerleading from American commentators bent on teaching impertinent India a lesson for its stance on Ukraine.

Singh landed in India with a lot of swagger and went straight for the jugular. In the course of his two-day visit and meeting with Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, Singh reportedly “cautioned India against enhancing ties with Moscow” and made it clear that India runs the risk of being caught up in a web of secondary sanctions if it tries to do business with Russia.

On Thursday, hours before Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s arrival, Singh told reporters in India that the US won’t like to see a “rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia as it relates to energy or any other any other exports that are currently being prohibited by the US or by other aspects of the international sanctions regime”. He warned that there will be “consequences” for countries, including India, “that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill the sanctions”, and also said that “we are very keen for all countries, especially our allies and partners, not to create mechanisms that prop up the ruble, and those that attempt to undermine the dollar-based financial system.”

These naked, public threats raised quite a few eyebrows. Syed Akbaruddin, former Indian envoy to the UN, wrote on Twitter that “This is not the language of diplomacy… This is the language of coercion… Somebody tell this young man that punitive unilateral economic measures are a breach of customary international law…”

India’s minister for external affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was having none of this Western bullying and  said so, publicly n the presence of Truss at the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum, as reported in The Guardian, India defends buying discounted Russian oil despite appeal by Truss:

Jaishankar complained there seemed to be a campaign to distort India’s attitude to discounted Russian oil. “I was just reading a report today, that in the month of March, Europe has bought, I think, 15% more oil and gas from Russia, than the month before. If you look at the major buyers of oil and gas from Russia, I think you’ll find most of them are in Europe,” he said. “When oil prices go up. I think it’s natural for countries to go out and look for what are good deals for that thing.”<

Refiners in India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, have been buying Russian oil through spot tenders since Moscow’s invasion on 24 February, taking advantage of heavy discounts as other buyers back away. India has bought at least 13m barrels of Russian oil since 24 February, compared with nearly 16m barrels in all of 2021. There have been reports of private warnings by the US to India not to take advantage of a visit to India by the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to strike new deals that in effect endorsed or enabled Russia’s invasion.

According to Firstpost:

“When the oil prices go up, I think it is natural for countries to go out into the market and look for what are the good deals for their people,” said Jaishankar, adding: “But I am pretty sure if we wait for two or three months and actually look at who are the big buyers of Russian oil and gas, I suspect the list would not be too different from what it used to be and I suspect we won’t be in the top 10 on that list.”

India intends to continue buying Russian oil – a policy which will almost certainly be followed by similar arrangements to purchase other key commodities, including fertilizer, once payment arrangements can be worked out.  Per Firstpost, Friday, the day after U.S. official Singh made his remarks:

…Union finance minister N Sitharaman was categorical in her statement that India won’t stop buying Russian oil. At a CNBC TV18 event, Sitharaman said: “We have started buying, we have received quite a number of barrels — I would think three-four days’ supply and this will continue,” she said, adding: “India’s overall interest is what is kept in mind.”

India, which imports 85 per cent of its crude needs, is battling massive inflationary pressure on its economy and a widening current account deficit due to surging oil prices. Political parties are targeting the Narendra Modi government at home. Against this backdrop, the Russian offer of deep discounts to the tune of almost $35 a barrel is irresistible   for India’s price-sensitive economy.

Sitharaman said “I would put my national interest first and I would put my energy security first. And if there is fuel available at discount. Why shouldn’t I buy it?”, adding that mechanisms are being worked out to source more oil — directly challenging Singh’s position. [Jerri-Lynn here: My emphasis].

It’s hard to overstate how badly the U.S. handled last week’s meetings. Contrast that fumbling to the performance of Lavrov, who arrived in Delhi when Singh and Truss were still in town. According to Firstpost:

Contradictory messaging has now become a feature, not a bug of the Biden administration. The US president called India ‘shaky’ on Russia, and US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo accused India of “funding and fueling and aiding President Putin’s war,” while Ned Price, the US State Department spokesperson, said: “We are a partner of choice for India.”

Apart from adding to the confusion, Singh also made the mistake of publicly telling off India, something which may not go down well in New Delhi. Contrast his high-handedness with the Russian approach. Despite the West’s claim, India has been quite critical of Russia. Its tone and tenor have become sharper and more censorious with the progress of the war. New Delhi hasn’t voted against Russia at the UN, but abstention has been India’s favourite move during voting at the UN with notable exceptions.

Bullying a country that suffered through a centuries-long colonial occupation extending from the 18th through the 20th centuries is, needless to say, not a good look. Note that Firstpost was not naive as to Lavrov’s motivations and was well aware he was also pursuing Russias’ self-interest – and deploying subtle threats of his own:

The wily Lavrov was evidently playing on the gap created by Singh. One can bet in the fact that he will cite American pressure tactics to drive a wedge in India-US ties. Whether or not he succeeds is moot, but the difference in approach is notable. Americans enjoy a convergence of interests with India, but they are yet to figure out something Russians did long back. Public threats and warnings are counterproductive. Russians do it more subtly.

There’s also a cultural difference to be looked at. A post-colonial society doesn’t respond well to bullying, threats, warnings and coercive behavior. Americans may believe friends can and should talk about difficult topics openly — a stance the Biden administration has been clear about when it comes to India — but Indians feel that those discussions are best kept private.

Pushing India to choose and doing so publicly while dangling an open threat is the definition of bad diplomacy. Singh’s visit to India was a slow-moving train wreck. [Jerrri-Lynn here: my emphasis.]

The India Way: Primer for India’s Multipolar Approach to Foreign Policy

At this point I want to to pull back from further rubbernecking around that train wreck to introduce readers to a remarkable book The India Way, Written by Jaishankar, India’s sitting minister for external afairs, his book provides a primer for understanding India’s current approach to managing its international affairs. I won’t undertake a through review here – and in fact, have been asked to write a review for an Indian audience; once I do that, I’ll provide a Link.

Memo to U.S. State Department/National Security Council: staff. Read Jaishankar’s book. It’s as good a starting point as any to understand why last week’s U.S. threats were so poorly received. Jaishankar serves as Modi’s foreign policy guru and previously enjoyed a remarkable 38-year career as a career diplomat. Prior to his selection as minister for external affairs, Jaishankar served as India’s foreign secretary (2015-2018), high commissioner to Singapore (2007–09) and as ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001–04), China (2009–2013) and the United States  (2014–2015), according to Wikipedia.

Jaishankar earned a chemistry degree from Delhi’s St. Stephens College, and an MA and PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he specialized in nuclear diplomacy. He later put this expertise to good use in negotiating the  U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement. He’s married to a woman of Japanese origin and speaks Russian, English, Tamil, Hindi, conversational Japanese, Chinese, and some Hungarian.

“The Union government’s choice of Jaishankar as its foreign policy guru is just one example of Modi’s ability to choose the correct technocrats to implement his policy objectives,” said Dr. Sunandan Roy Chowdhury, editor-in-ihief of the Kolkata journal, Eastern Review.

The book, which clocks in at 250 pages is beautifully written and Jaishankar’s lightly-worn erudition is apparent on nearly every page.  Equally comfortable with Eastern and Western political thought, Jaishankar deftly makes glancing references to Eastern sources, such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra,  (Jaishankar, p.16), thefourth century (BCE) tome that was one of the first works to discuss realist foreign policy concepts. Max Weber once wrote that compared to the Arthashastra, “Machiavelli’s The Prince is harmless.”  Neither does Jaishankar stint on allusions to Western sources, such as Gramsci, “‘The old order is changing but the new one is not yet in sight” ( Jaishankar, p.  37).

Each chapter of The India Way opens with a pithy aphorism. Including: [Tamil poet] Thiruvalluvar:  “Wisdom is to live in tune with the mode of a changing world” ( Jaishankar,  p.5) , Plato: “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior” (Jaishankar, p. 10); Donald Trump: “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win a war” (Jaishankar, p. 28). In the interests of keeping this post of manageable length, I’ll stop with those.

I hesitate to highlight this erudition, lest it scare away readers who think The India Way is a ponderous tome. Far from it. There’s wisdom to savor on most every page.

Jaishankar outlined a foreign policy for India to pursue in a multipolar world:

…it is the underlying assumptions that can make a difference. We have been conditioned to think of the post-1945 world as the norm and departures from it as deviations. In fact, our own pluralistic and complex history underlines that the natural state of the world is multipolarity. It also brings out the constraints in the application of power. A behaviour and a thought process which reflects that can facilitate the creation of a more favourable equilibrium with others (Jaishankar, p. 20).

As I noted in March when I last addressed these issues in IIndia Is Mulling Rupee-Ruble Payments System for Trade with Russia, this multipolar orientation draws from the non-alignment tradition that India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, pioneered in the immediate post-colonial period. But as Chowdhury told me, “The new policy is one of multi-alignment, where India engages with all major countries – but kowtows to no one.” Note that this is a world no longer dominated by the G8; instead, half the world’s twenty largest economies are now non-Western (Jaishankar, p. 41).

According to Jaishankar:

Geopolitics and balance of power are the underpinning of international relations. India has a tradition of Kautilyan politics that puts a premium on them. If there are lessons from the near part, it is that these were not given the weightage that they deserved. The Bandung era of Afro-Asia n solidarity in the 1950s serves as a reminder of the costs of neglecting hard power. But more than lack of focus on capabilities, they reflect an underlying thinking. We have since reached a league where the ability to protect our interests is an assumption, not just an option. This is best done through a mix of national strengths and external relationships (Jaishankar, p. 16).

What does this mean in practice? Now bear in mind that Jaiashankar’s book was published in September 2020 – long before Russia invaded Ukraine. Nonetheless, for India, this policy reorientation translates as follows: “A longstanding trilateral with China and Russia coexists now with one involving the US and Japan” (Jaishankar p. 23.) As I outlined in my March post, India has long enjoyed cordial relations with Russia (and before that the Soviet Union). Russia can help india fulfil current economic needs – such as securing access to cheap fossil fuels and fertilizers. Per Jaishankar:

This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play, draw neighbours in, extend the neighbourhood, and expand traditional constituencies of support. The mix of opportunities and risks presented by a more uncertain and volatile world is not easy to evaluate (Jaishankar, p. 19).

Jaishankar well understands that this policy orientation will occasionally lead to severe strains in its network of foreign relationships:

In a world of more naked self-interest, nations will do what they have to do with less pretence. Hence, India must brace itself for what may be expected to come.It has to prepare itself for assertions of influence that will exploit power differentials, economic advantages, and dependency of connectivity (Jaishankar, p.34).

The bottom line: “India cannot give any other nation a veto on its policy options” (Jaishankar, p. 35, Jerri-Lynn here: my emphasis).

I can’t overemphasize how much I was impressed by this thoughtful, well-argued, gracefully  Alas, space considerations prevent engaging further with this text here.and we must now return to the topic du jour: what we can expect India’s foreign policy to look like in the near term?

India’s annoyance with U.S. diplomacy originated long before Singh’s disastrous Delhi trip. Two motivating factors set out in my March post bear repeating here:

First, the surprise announcement of a new Austalia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security arrangement in August shocked India, to say the least. India was excluded from this new accord, which unceremoniously superseded the previous Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. This transition was especially galling as Jaishankar had mentioned in his book that India had driven revival of the QUAD (Jaishankar, p. 23). Recall that under AUKUS, Australia will now be the recipient of new U.S. nuclear submarines – which India had long coveted and been told it couldn’t have.

Second, American policymakers don’t seem to comprehend fully the impact the shambles the U.S. made of its Afghanistan pullout had on the thinking of leading Indian foreign policy figures. Jaishankar raised these criticisms in real time as the withdrawal was occurring and reiterated these concerns last week, as reported by the Guardian:

He also contrasted the concern the west has shown about the invasion with what he described as the relative uninterest in the Taliban takever of Afghanistan, saying people seemed motivated by the proximity of a crisis, as much as anything.

In a chapter devoted to analyzing The Art of Disruption: The United States in a Flatter World (in  a section dissecting the US-Sino relationship), Jaishankar made an observation particularly  apt to the current crisis:

The rise of a new global power was never going to be easy, and an order waiting to happen will look like chaos until it does (Jaishankar, p. 33), Jerri-Lynn here: my emphasis),

Yet willy nilly retreat to previous certainties is not the best choice either:

For the fact is that a return to the past only accentuates our limitations and undermines confidence. It encourages risk aversion and prevents exploitation of new opportunities. … Where intersections of interest are multiple, it is perhaps best to just distrust and verify (Jaishankar, p. 34).

And so here we are.

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  1. RobertC

    Jerri-Lynn — thanks very much for your article. My copy of The India Way will be delivered next week.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I should start on my review for an Indian audience while the book’s still fresh in my mind.

  2. Fazal Majid

    India is discussing nuclear subs with France. Nonproliferation would have been an obstacle in the past, but the US blew it away with its cynical deal with Australia.

    As for India’s relationship with Russia, read about how India called on the Soviets to deter Task Force 74 that Nixon had sent to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate the Indians into not stopping the Pakistani genocide in Bangladesh. Unlike the US, Indians have long memories, as a culture spanning millennia, if not with the same continuity as the Chinese or Iranians:

    By the way, Jaishankar is not an éminence grise. As foreign minister, he is a principal.

    1. RobertC

      Fazal — India is discussing nuclear subs with France. Nonproliferation would have been an obstacle in the past, but the US blew it away with its cynical deal with Australia.

      Nonproliferation is less of a factor for the Barracuda class submarine because its TechnicAtome K15 150 MW reactor uses commercial grade uranium fuel.

      Indian defense material procurement and construction efforts tend to take a long and winding path. But this is an interesting discussion to follow.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        This jives with what I’ve heard. France and India are engaging in ongoing bilateral discussions, with reciprocal high level meetings occurring in both countries.

    2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Fazal Majid: Thanks for your comment.

      I’m aware of the 1971 history and in fact intended to include discussion of it in my March post, but opted instead for a short account of LBJ withholding wheat that India desperately needed during the ‘60s as he was angry at PM Gandhi for her criticism of the U.S. bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. When someone pointed out to Johnson that the Pope and UN Secretary General were saying the very same thing, Johnson retorted but they don’t need our wheat. Mrs. Gandhi got the message and stopped speaking out so that Indians wouldn’t starve.

      Indians indeed have long memories. As do Bangladeshis, who also benefitted from that same Soviet action in the Bay of Bengal that you mention. Note that IIRC Bangladesh also abstained from a the vote on this year’s first UN General Assembly resolution on Russia. (I assume Bangladesh has taken the same position on subsequent UN resolutions but I haven’t confirmed those details.)

      As to your éminence grise point: you’re correct, I misused the term and I’ve already amended the text accordingly. As current minister for external affairs, Jaishankar is indeed a principal – not an influential voice from the shadows.

  3. Reaville

    Young Singh’s comment about actions injuring the dollar based financial system tell me that the USA is running scared on that front. Speculation is cheap but confirmation is priceless. Singh just provided confirmation.

    How stupid.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Thank you for this, fascinating insights. Modi may be a very unpleasant character, but at least the Indian system still functions well, at least at an international level.

    Thanks also for reminding us of the debacle that is AUKUS. Who could have guessed that a Biden administration would be even less competent at the most basic level than a Trump one? It takes a rare genius to manage to anger and alienate France and India (and probably Japan and ROK too) at the same time, and all for a meaningless political gesture to London and Sydney.

    1. KingOffspin

      To Be Honest (TBH) Modi is the most pleasant person to work with. He is the most non corrupt person in a long time in India and has simple philosphy of respect everyone and expect the same from everyone. He comes from lower caste and is rags to to prime minister story (from tea vendor to Prime Minister). He actually is the hardest working PM India has ever had and is down to earth as can be seen when he touches feet of ordinary people when they are being awarded.
      The reason press and opposition political parties are against him in India is for all the above reason–not corrupt,doesnt tolerate corruption, is lower caste and was poor and is still middle class(just salary as a prime minister and not into any other business), and is not fluent in English like others due to his humble background and is working for common man rather than elite, compared to all the other political leaders in India (have a look at how many corruption cases all other political leaders are embroiled in). Anyway he is definitely not unpleasant as long as you respect people and you are working with him for benefit of India and Indians

  5. John Zelnicker

    I’ll add my kudos to those above, Jerri-Lynn.

    I learned more about Indian foreign policy than I ever knew before. Fascinating and eminently pragmatic.

  6. Tom Pfoitzer

    JLS: In my opinion, the three major international stories of the next 2-5 years will be Germany, Turkey and India. They are key players, and they all have big decisions to make, and they all have significant degrees of freedom.

    Germany has, if it wants it, the inside track of EU-Russia trade. And Germany really needs that trade, and can benefit enormously from it. It has to make the short-term U.S. .vs. long-term Asia decision. Germany has the toughest row to hoe.

    Turkey is the junction-point of lower-Asian east-west trade, and it’s assiduously maintained it’s foot-in-both-camps status. Erdogan confounds all, and comes from a long, long legacy of backgammon-strategy. Nothing is sure, except that the game is fluid. Horse-traders live for the trade. The horses, well, they come and go, but the trades…they make the legends.

    India is the champion of lower-Asia’s non-aligned movement, and it’s got a billion people to speak for. India is another one of those Asian oooollllddd cultures, seen it all many a time before, and has some bones to pick with the West, and particularly with the U.K. Not much dialogue on that score, lately, but my expectation is that the “jewel in the crown” has some scores to settle. Long memories.

    So, I commend you for your choice of topics. There is plenty of need, and plenty of material to cover in the India story. It’s show-time, and this show has been brewing for decades.

    Talk about a well-wound spring.

    Thanks for your efforts. I’ll be eagerly awaiting your reports.

    1. lance ringquist

      free trade starved millions of indians, irish and others under british rule. they made stalin and mao look like pikers

  7. Tom Stone

    I can guess what Singh’s instructions were with near certainty.
    “Show those ( pejorative term) who is boss,be tough, don’t take no for an answer”.
    If you recall “Badass Joe’s” tantrums on the campaign trail where he challenged people to a fist fight or how the sanctions against Russia were decided upon…this stupidity comes from the top down.
    And Joe’s lackey’s do as they are told unquestioningly because their rice bowls will be given to someone else if they don’t.
    We have an angry old man with dementia with his finger on the big red button and we’ll be lucky if he doesn’t push it one morning when he has a painful bowel movement.

  8. scarnoc

    Considering that the sanctions against Russia do not seem particularly piercing, and that USA has no apparent supply chain resilience whatsoever, I must conclude that Mr Singh has not performed well in any of his jobs. It’s pretty funny to see those points listed in his favor, lol.

  9. Barry

    With an election in Australia sometime in May, India’s relationship with Russia and the fallout of AUKUS has not stopped the Morrison Government signing an interim Free trade deal with India.

    “The India Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAus ECTA) is the first trade agreement with a developed nation India has signed after more than a decade.”

  10. The Rev Kev

    I believe that Indian civilization stretches back some 8,000 years in one form or another so I doubt that somebody like Joe Biden impresses them – nor his goon Daleep Singh. It is with interest that I see that as the old globalized order is being broken up – by the west of all things – that countries like India are seeing their chance to make their own way in the world. And when you see things like a Pakistani Prime Minister defend against attacks on an Indian Prime Minister, well, you know that things are changing. Turns out that India, Pakistan and China have something in common. That all three have a very long history of being ensleved by foreign powers and none of them wish to repeat the experience, even from each other. Wouldn’t it be something if through Russian diplomacy, that a lid could be finally put on the friction that India experiences with its neighbours China and Pakistan leading to a major boost in trade between them all. And all done in their own currencies so that no other power gets a say in what they can and can’t do.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I too was amazed to see Imran Khan’s recent endorsements of India’s independent foreign policy. He’s clearly fed up w/ U.S. misbehaviour. Let’s see if he manages to survive himself – not only politically, but survive period. (When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated I was in India – in Diu, in Gujarat, not all that far from the Pakistani border – and we all know what happened to her father. The game of politics is not for the faint-hearted in Pakistan; ’tis far, far more difficult than being a great cricket all-rounder.)

      I wrote this post to make NC readers aware that Jaishankar had outlined a blueprint for Indian policy in the new multipolar world in September 2020, well before the Russian army marched into Ukraine. And so unlike the crappy books U.S. political figures write – all ghostwritten, in fact having someone else write ‘your’ book is a mark of prestige rather than what it should be, a source of deep shame, for taking credit for someone else’s work. I’ve suffered through many of those books, which tend to be long-winded, not to mention superficial as well as ahistorical.

      By contrast, Jaishankar says something interesting, and says it well. In his preface, he mentions some of the many places he delivered talks or lectures as he wrestled with the ideas he explores in the book. So although I cannot be sure, I’d be willing to wager he wrote this book himself. Indians with an interest in such things are aware of the book, but that hasn’t translated into more general awareness globally.

  11. everydayjoe

    Most Americans think of India(sadly) as a third world country. Most American congressmen and women cannot see the world beyond Europe as being worth their attention. This is what drives US foreign policy. They just dont care to know. Others can also be proud- not just Europe and America.

  12. IMOR

    “Prior to his role as the deputy NSA for international economics and deputy director for the National Economic Council in the Biden administration, a job that gives him command over the vast policymaking spheres of supply chain resilience to economic statecraft and makes him one of the most powerful Indian-Americans in the US, Singh had a meaty position in the treasury department of the Barack Obama administration.”
    So. he hasn’t been and isn’t really a ‘diplomat’ in any meaningful or career sense. Envoy, sure- anybody can carry a one-time message. But diplomats had a background in language and history, a commitment to, well, diplomacy, and a set of techniques we seem to have abandoned some time ago. Now:
    “The sea was angry that day, my friends; like an old man sending back soup in a deli!” – George Costanza

  13. Patrick Donnelly

    Australia is losing $5Bn to the French submarine debacle.

    No subs have appeared yet.

    Will they ever do so?

    Was this a successful ploy to damage EU to Australia relations?

    1. RobertC

      Patrick — AUKUS is a US play to have Australia build the docks and logistics facilities for US and UK submarines at Australian taxpayer expense. Australia may get a mid-life upgrade of its Collins submarines. Even ASPI’s The Strategist found it hard to be optimistic.

      Winslow T. Wheeler worked for three decades for Republican and Democratic Senators and GAO on national security issues. Here’s his assessment The AUKUS Nuclear Attack Submarine: Good Luck with That, Australia

  14. Eclair

    Excellent post, Jerri-Lynn! A perfect example of why we all read NC; a whop upside the head, and, voila, the world shifts and and we see things a bit differently.

    Living in Seattle, in the winter months, in one of the culturally active and fertile margins of the world, there are parts of the city where one does not see a ‘white face:’ the ‘U District’ on a Sunday, on the strip lined with ramen shops, tiny northern Chinese noodle restaurants, and Korean bulgogi restaurants. And the area around southern Lake Union in downtown, where the mighty towers of Amazon loom and the restaurant trucks serving Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian dishes line the streets at lunch time. We’re not talking your tired and your poor, much less the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. These are young, smart, high-tech workers and students, here or back in their home countries. The next generation. (If we don’t wreck the planet in the meantime.)

  15. Susan the other

    What a confluence of disillusionments. Pax Americana lasted only as long as all the gold in Western vaults. Progress is a crazy thing. They say all the gold ever mined is approximately one tennis court cubed. And I’d betcha most of it has gone into new space technologies, or it will. What can we hold over our partners? Nothing. Certainly not frivolous neoliberal economics and junk polluting the world for profits that are, in fact, debts. All of our disruptions have not been to usher in the New, but to prevent it.

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