Views & Reviews
Post-Cold War Real Politik : Lessons for India
Following the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on the day of Jewish Shabath, the present theatre of conflict has shifted from Europe to the Mediterranean region. There have been multiple lessons to learn from for the international military watchers as well as ordinary people around the world.
According to one estimate, there are around 55 regional wars raging across the world. A war certainly is the last resort to solve a political problem that may not be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. In the era of hybrid warfare, supemacy on multiple fronts is desirable in case of direct confrontation between nation- states. A parallel war is often fought both inside and outside the battle field. However, the question remains whether war is the new norm in the post-Cold war real politik.
During the initial phase of the Ukraine conflict, the military fraternity placed the bets on Russia to wrap up the military operation in less than a week’s time. In the eyes of international pundits, the nature of a symmetry between the two countries was such that Ukraine stood little to no chance, than succumbing to the Russian onslaught.
However, large swathes of Turkish Bay raktar drones were used by the Ukrainian forces to thwart a possible Russian blitz kreig on ground inflicting severe casualties upon the aggressor. Ukraine’s aerial supremacy was more of a shock than surprise, albeit Ukraine had no air force with combat capability to hold off the Russian war machine. Infact, Ukraine did manage to give a severe blow to the hapless Russian tanks and troops on ground that were destroyed like cannon fodder.
The information warfare by the West-dominated media severely tilted the narrative in favour of Ukraine during this phase of the combat. A well oiled Russian war machine was then forced to change its objectives in the later stages of the operation due to the multi front war.
Taking the cue from the initially botched up Russian assault, Israel has been cautious not to roll out tanks and armoured vehicles into the Gaza strip right from the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) took immense precaution in terms of creating suitable pre-conditions for a subsequent ground invasion into the Palestinian enclave. What awaited them in Gaza was unseen and unprecedented for many.
The complex yet sophisticated underground tunnel network built by Hamas militia men took many in IDF by surprise. The sheer ambiguity created by the underground tunnel networks was used by the Hamas fighters to mount surprise attacks on the advancing Israeli troops during multiple occasions. This dealt a severe blow to the IDF personnel in terms of the number of casualties and also led to collateral damage to the Israeli hostages.
As of now, the warring sides are engaged in a street battle to claim territory. As supplies of essential items continue to dwindle in the besieged strip, both sides are racing against time to fulfill their war objectives. While Hamas is faced with its toughest challenge to wade off a raging technological
super power, Israel too finds itself in a tough spot due to mounting international pressure for a cease fire and domestic pressure for a hostage exchange deal.
The initial fears of a spillover of the conflict to other parts of the region is also turning in to reality with Iranian proxies Hezbollah (in Lebanon) and Houthi Rebels (in Yemen) entering in to the conflict in their own capacities. Currently, Hezbollah’s area of focus remains concentrated in the northern parts of Israel, while the Houthi’s have stepped up piracy activities in the Red sea and specifically so in the Strait of Bab – el – Mandeb. This might inflict upon a severe blow to the global supply chain, because of the added delay in arrival of shipments and even increased fuel expenses due to change of route for some of the commercial ships who mean to avoid taking the route through the Red sea.
India too has been on the receiving end of the Houthi’s drone attacks on commercial ships sailing through the Red Sea and Arabian Sea region. As things may take an uglier turn with more nations entering the conflict in the region of Red Sea, it may ring alarm bells within India due to the possibility of a crude oil price rise and the impending impact on other essential commodities being shipped through the region as well.
One of the emerging planks of India’s foreign policy and trade has been that of supply chain diversification. The ongoing turbulence in the region of West Asia too provides an opportunity for India to diversify its suppliers of crude oil and other goods that may be crucial to the Indian industries back home and the economy as a whole.
It would not be wrong to say that the brewing conflict in India’s extended neighbourhood of Middle East is an opportunity for India and its trading partners to test the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) that would ensure a more robust supply chain in the region. At the same time, India must also exercise its clout in the region to avoid any attacks on its merchant vessels forthwith. India ought to exercise severe restraint and display maturity, so as to play a ‘constructive’ role of a peace broker between the warring sides.
*Binit Patnaik is a freelance writer dealing with Indian Political System and International Affairs.