December 4, 2022

America’s Solomon Fever

The news about China signing a security cooperation pact with Solomon Islands on April 19. has sent the Biden administration in a tizzy, even as Biden may have thought of his school time buddy Solomon when first informed about this development

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

There is considerable commotion in the west. Netflix has lost 200,000 subscribers in three months; first time in a decade because of Russian users signing off.  Texas Governor Greg Abbot wants to transport all illegal immigrants in his state to Washington as a gift for President Joe Biden or to Delaware, Biden’s home state.  He has authorised seven buses for the same but has not disclosed whether these Mexicans can cure Biden’s dementia or will set up a startup for making adult diapers.

With Russia testing its latest Sarmat ICBM, Jen Stolenberg is studying whether the NATO’s nuclear bunkers have to be dug deeper down, Biden is working on his umpteenth sanction list though he can’t recollect the name of Putin’s pet ‘Verny’ – a unique alabai dog (central Asian shepherd) gifted to him by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan in 2017.

Macron is adding ammunition to the accusations of fraud against Marine Le Pen for the presidential debate but is apprehensive whether she will unseat him on April 24. Boozer BoJo has landed in India in a new hairstyle – hair parted in the middle. His “intelligent” boys told him that even if he loses the trust vote, he need not resign. After all, he has banned Russia and Belarus from Wimbledon to let Andy Murray return to the limelight.

And yes, Ursula Von Der Leyen, European Commission President is also headed for India to render her composition “Biden the Lovable and Putin the Devil” at the Raisina Dialogue (April 24-25) where she will be chief guest. Naturally she is immune to Europe’s economic blues with Biden prolonging the Ukraine war and leading German employers and unions opposing Russian gas embargo; arguing that “it would lead to loss of production, shutdowns, a further de-industrialisation and the long-term loss of work positions in Germany.” After all, there is news about Biden trying to get Russian crude via Venezuela?

China has said that the pact with Solomon Islands could pave the way for further security deals overseas. Under the agreement, “the two sides will conduct cooperation in such areas as maintenance of social order, protection of the safety of people’s lives and property, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response, in an effort to help Solomon Islands strengthen capacity building in safeguarding its own security.”

But the news about China signing a security cooperation pact with Solomon Islands on April 19. has sent the Biden administration in a tizzy, even as Biden may have thought of his school time buddy Solomon when first informed about this development. The Australian opposition is firing away at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the failed foreign policy of his government.

China has said that the pact with Solomon Islands could pave the way for further security deals overseas. Under the agreement, “the two sides will conduct cooperation in such areas as maintenance of social order, protection of the safety of people’s lives and property, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response, in an effort to help Solomon Islands strengthen capacity building in safeguarding its own security.”

Solomon Island has said that there is no agreement for a Chinese military base. But that is the way China’s subterfuge works – for ‘maintaining social order’ read ‘maintaining world order’ and how can safety be ensured without PLA presence? What has alarmed Washington even more is the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman saying,  

  • “The US Embassy in Solomon Islands has been closed for 29 years. The most recent visit to Fiji made by a US Secretary of State was 37 years ago. Several US officials now fancy a visit to some Pacific Island Countries (PIC) all of a sudden after all these years. Are they doing so out of care for PICs or do they have ulterior motives? People are keen to get an answer to this question?”
  • “PICs are not the backyard of anyone, still less chess pieces in a geopolitical contest. PICs have the actual need to diversify their cooperation with other countries and the right to independently choose their cooperation partners. Sensationalising an atmosphere of tension and stokong bloc confrontation will get no support in the region. Attempts to meddle with and obstruct PICs cooperation with China will be in vain.”

The above Chiness statement exposes the hollowness of America’s Indo-Pacific strategy which has been propounded by the US for the past few years, especially with regard to PICs. It also indicates that though Jen Stolenberg pompously declared a new NATO strategy is in the making to include China, Beijing will have new reception parties ready for them in PICs.

Solomon Island has said that there is no agreement for a Chinese military base. But that is the way China’s subterfuge works – for ‘maintaining social order’ read ‘maintaining world order’ and how can safety be ensured without PLA presence?

The US is rushing off Kurt Campbell, Biden’s National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, and Daniel Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, to the Solomon Islands with stopovers in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Though the US reportedly wants to reopen its embassy in Solomon Islands, these actions amount to firefighting or more like headless chicken running around after the cat has entered the coop.

Interestingly, American scholars are trying to put the blame for this development on Australia but what about America’s foreign policy which has been on the decline all over because of its obstinacy to push through its own interests at the cost of the national interests of even its partners. The US would not have noticed that when some 3,500 Indian business families moved out of Fiji following the racially inspired coups of 1987 and 2000, an equal number of Chinese business families quietly moved into Fiji – were these coups orchestrated by China.

The ‘Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’ released by the Director of US National Intelligence on February 7 this year talks of Chinese aims and objectives in Taiwan and the South China Sea, but makes no mention of PICs. This is despite the fact that China has been actively courting several PICs countries in recent years for contracting similar security cooperation pacts, prominent among them being Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Incidentally, Vanuatu is a Melanesian country and China funds the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) based in Suva, Fiji.

The PIC countries, as the rest of the world, have watched that the US is only promoting its own interests in the Ukraine conflict. It has no compunctions about the destruction and loss of life in Ukraine and working towards a ceasefire by engaging Russia directly. On the contrary, it is doing everything possible to prolong the conflict. The US is not even bothered about the adverse economic impact on Europe and the rest of the world because of its illegal sanctions against Russia. Moreover, Biden’s Build Back Better World (B3W) has not benefited PICs in any manner.

The US is rushing off Kurt Campbell, Biden’s National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, and Daniel Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, to the Solomon Islands with stopovers in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Though the US reportedly wants to reopen its embassy in Solomon Islands, these actions amount to firefighting or more like headless chicken running around after the cat has entered the coop

Interestingly, the ‘Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’ states that India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to “perceived” or real Pakistani provocations. Do they think India cannot differentiate between perceived and real provocations? The assessment also says the risk of armed confrontation between India and China might involve direct threats to US persons and interests calling for “US intervention”. What intervention would that be and where?

The author is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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