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Are ‘strategic partners’ the new ‘allies’?

Punch_Anglo-Japanese_Alliance

Is the “Strategic Partnership” the new type of Alliance we have been waiting for? According to Rajesh Basrur & Sumitha Narayanan Kutty in The Hindu, it may not make sense any longer to strive for the exalted status  ‘allies’, because “Alliances are passé“:

We live in a world today driven by “strategic partnerships”. States find themselves in an interdependent system where the traditional power politics of yesteryear doesn’t quite fit. After all, every major relationship characterised by strategic tension such as U.S.-China, Japan-China, India-China is simultaneously one of economic gain. The U.S. and China are each other’s chief trading partners, while China ranks at the top for Japan and India. Besides, India might confront China at Doklam but it also wants Chinese investment.

This is an observation with relevance for the Anglo-Japan relationship as well. According to Busrur and Kutty, strategic partnerships and alliances differ on the following points:

  1. they do not demand commitments to a partner’s disputes with other countries. That means both parties retain the flexibility to continue political engagement and economic cooperation with their common adversary. As a result –
  2. they avoid “entrapment”, or being dragged into a partner’s disputes and potentially into conflict. Instead –
  3. regular high-level political and military interactions facilitate a collaborative approach to strategic policies over a range of economic and military activities.

The aims of major strategic partnerships are described as follows: Continue reading

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