On February 10-11, 2021, Foreign Ministers of the US, Australia, Japan and India met in Australia as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the Quad. This was their fourth meeting in a short span of time.
The Quad is a US-led military-strategic bloc which is directed against China. Ever since the US first declared its “pivot to Asia” policy under the Obama administration in 2009, the Quad has assumed an increasingly high profile.
By announcing its “pivot to Asia”, US imperialism openly declared its intention to focus on strengthening its domination of Asia, and particularly the Asia-Pacific region, as part of its relentless drive towards world domination.
Although the Quad has not openly declared itself to be a military alliance, the former US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun had pointedly said in August 2020 that the Quad was “similar to something like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) with an aim to counter China.” He had further termed it “a bulwark against a potential challenge from China”. This was a very clear confirmation of the real nature of the Quad group.
In the recently held meeting of the Foreign Ministers, much was made as usual of the claim that the Quad was a grouping based on “values”. Many references were made to its claim to be in defence of a “rules-based international order”. The truth is that it is the US, the leader of this group, that has been the most consistent violator of the rules and norms of interaction among states. When it aggresses on countries like Iraq and Syria, actively instigates disturbances to overthrow governments that do not follow its dictate, rains down bombs on civilian populations in Afghanistan, it is acting directly in contravention of international law and the principles of the UN Charter. However, according to the US and its allies, these crimes are not violations of the “rules-based international order”.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the Quad stands in defence of the principle that “only the people of a particular country can be in a position to choose their foreign policy, their partnerships, their alliances, their associations.” Coming from the representative of a power that brazenly penalises countries like Cuba, Iran and Venezuela for doing precisely that — choosing their own foreign policy, partnerships, alliances and associations — this shows the utter hypocrisy underlying the Quad.
The latest meeting of Quad reiterated a promise made in an earlier meeting, but still unfulfilled, to provide anti-Covid 19 vaccines in large numbers to countries in the region. This was to undermine the impact of China which had early on provided a substantial amount of vaccines to countries in South East Asia. It also tried to incorporate the countries of ASEAN into its plans by saying that it wanted to strengthen the capacity of the other countries of this region to “protect and develop” their offshore resources. This too was a clear reference to disputes between China and some other countries in the region over the South China Sea.
A special feature of this meeting was that it took place against the background of the heightened warmongering by the US and its NATO allies over Ukraine. The Japanese Foreign Minister openly said that Russia and Ukraine were discussed at the Quad meeting, and the foreign ministers of the US, Japan and Australia spoke repeatedly about this even though it was not mentioned in their Joint Statement. US Secretary of State Blinken in particular directly linked the situation unfolding in Europe with that in the “Indo-Pacific” region, claiming that the aim in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific was the same — that is, to uphold a “rules-based international order”. This indicates that the US sees the Quad as part of a grand alliance to deal with its enemies on a global scale, and not just limited to eastern Asia.
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar in his remarks tried hard to delink the Ukraine issue from the Quad, but it was clear that through the Quad, strong pressure is being brought to bear on India to align its position on Ukraine with that of the US and its other allies. The Indian ruling class believes that the Quad can be used to advance its own regional and global ambitions, particularly in its contention against China and Pakistan. However, it is the Indian state that is being used by US imperialism for its own ends. Through its ever closer alignment with US imperialist strategy, the Indian state’s choices to pursue any kind of foreign policy different from that of the US are becoming increasingly limited.
At the same time, being a “strategic partner” of the US does not protect India from US imperialist bullying, nor does it entitle the Indian state to the military and other benefits it is seeking. For instance, last year in April, a US warship brazenly sailed through Indian territorial waters near Lakshadweep. In response to India’s objections, the US declared that its stands for free and open navigation in the Indian Ocean and doesn’t recognise any limitations on this. Similarly, many Indian commentators are asking why India, despite being part of the Quad, is not being given access to the Anglo-American nuclear submarine technology that was given to Australia last September.
Far from being a grouping of equals based on “shared values”, the Quad is an instrument of US imperialist strategy. The ruling Indian bourgeoisie has joined this bloc with a view to promote its own narrow interests, without any concern for how this is raising tensions and the threat of war in our region and putting our people at risk of being embroiled in imperialist conflict. The Indian people should demand in one voice that India get out of the Quad immediately.