The labour pains Washington endured – before eventually delivering badly-needed medical supplies and related equipment to tackle India’s second calamitous coronavirus pandemic wave – has degraded the timely operational framework of the untested Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, in an emergency.
It’s perhaps uncharitable to carp at the US at present, considering its subsequent outpouring of assistance in dealing with India’s enduring and grossly mismanaged pandemic. But Washington’s extended hesitation for several weeks in assisting India in its grave adversity, despite grand assurances of support during the first Quad summit on March 12, is significant and could have discouraging ramifications for the much-touted alliance that also includes Australia and Japan.
In contrast, Russia, which the US is seeking to sanction for providing India military equipment, and smaller countries like Bahrain, Britain, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in addition to European Union (EU) states like France, Germany, Ireland and Italy were, unbidden, expeditiously off the mark in proactively aiding India directly. Even India’s nuclear rivals Pakistan and China offered ambulances, vaccines and medical gear, which the Modi government, understandably, declined.
“Protracted delays by the US in stepping up and helping India immediately have seriously compromised the Quad’s potential effectiveness and its much publicised sense of immediacy” said Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle (retired) of the New Delhi-based Security Risks consultancy group.
Deferring instant assistance, not only to a fellow Quad member, but also to a major strategic partner and defence ally like India was a test case, and the US has seemingly failed it, he lamented.