Maritime forces from India, Japan and the U.S. are underway during Malabar 2009, a trilateral training exercise led by the Indian Navy. Photo: US Navy

Much has been made of the “coming out” of the Indian-Israel strategic relationship, following Narendra Modi’s trip to Israel, the first such visit by an Indian Prime Minister.

The relationship has long been an important one, and the closer the ties between the two countries, the closer also is India’s strategic alliance with the United States.

But it is a bit of a stretch to imagine, as Palki Sharma Upadhyay suggests Friday, that this will bring us closer to a treaty alliance in the mold of NATO to counter China:

“In that context, it is one of the most significant foreign policy moves of the Modi government. It could shape the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy and possibly contribute to the idea of an Asian NATO to counter China’s assertiveness in the region.”

The United States, along with India and Japan, are indeed set to begin naval drills in the Indian Ocean next week. But the idea of a treaty alliance spanning from Japan to India is for the time being just a pipe dream for those hoping to contain China’s rise for several glaring reasons.

For one, there is a huge gap of countries with disparate interests and increasing closeness with Beijing spanning the region. Take for example the Philippines. Once considered a possible linchpin of such a “China Containment Coalition,” the country has for the time being pivoted into the warm embrace of Beijing. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, just to name a few, are all moving closer to China, not closer to the United States.

If China starts annexing its neighbors, which it won’t, this is worth envisioning. But encroachment on disputed territories in the South China Sea and India’s borders has been carefully balanced with much needed investment and financing for countries that need it. A far cry from the dynamics that led to the creation of NATO.

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