In 2003 senior advisers to the Pentagon and to the Indian government discussed the idea of a new security system for Asian-Pacific republics, a kind of Asian NATO, anchored by the United States and India.
The Malabar naval exercises which had formerly been bilateral US-India affairs included, in 2007, Japan, Australia, and Singapore “to showcase an emerging American-led Asian military bloc.”
The importance of oil and natural gas projects in Western and Central Asian countries is now being highlighted. In July 2009, NATO’s outgoing secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said “the new American leadership and President Barack Obama are launching several initiatives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East region.”
Will trade links maintain peaceful relationships?
Civilisation 3000 is beginning to hope that increasing trade links will counter-balance American efforts to form what is nicknamed the ‘Asian NATO’. The countries involved – both ‘allies’ and ‘targets’ – are building close and complex links through trade contracts and infrastructure projects.
Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam are members of ASEAN – the Association of South East Asian Nations – an important regional grouping which was formed to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations. Other countries regarded as potential NATO allies are also trading extensively with those regarded as potential enemies:
- South Korea, Japan and China agreed at their summit in 2009 to push for research on forming a free trade pact aimed at eventually creating a single economic bloc.
- China and Australia have signed a large energy deal.
- China, India and Thailand have developed extensive trade ties with Burma. Korean and Indian companies are to build a gas pipeline taking Burmese gas to China.
- China signed a $41bn deal to buy natural gas from Australia .
Despite military tension and border disputes India has offered China the protection of the Indian navy to help it to secure shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, crucial for China’s energy needs.
Though many in Civilisation 3000 would prefer an emphasis on developing cleaner energy, if these trade links prevent the formation of an Asian military bloc under American influence they are to be welcomed.
Émeric Crucé (1590–1648), saw peace as a pre-requisite to enable safe trading; we hope that in future the bonds of common interest formed by these trade links will maintain peace – or at least an absence of armed conflict.