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Balance or militarization?

Following the topic of the Quadrilateral security dialogue (Quad) between the US, India, Australia and Japan highlighted in the article статье, I drew attention to the article "A Quad-plus-6 Indo-Pacific strategy" by my Indian colleague Namrata Hasija, a research fellow at the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy in New Delhi, who I have known well from my long business trip to India. I even had time to virtually discuss the issue with her over a morning cup of coffee.

Leaving out the details, the main leitmotif of the article emphasizes the need to further strengthen the Quad through adopting "the Indo-Pacific strategy in a more holistic way", which involves the Quad expansion, along with the original members, through the participation of Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, France and the United Kingdom (Quad+6). In the author's opinion, such an idea will assist in providing a viable alternative to geopolitical security in the region.

>Dear Namrata assumes that inclusion of these six countries to the initiative "would create a more inclusive balance of power within the existent Indo-Pacific framework and go a long way toward achieving the dream of multi-polarity". Of particular notice, however, is the message that "it would provide a viable alternative to ASEAN, which has been reluctant to move forward in addressing the challenges it faces due to its charter of deciding only on the basis of consensus".

Note that the central systemic role of ASEAN in the region has been acknowledged to date by all intraregional and external players without exception. This understanding allows a system of checks and balances and is a kind of guarantee of stability inside organization. The association itself is very zealous about this image. It is not mere chance that the document adopted at the end of the Quad summit in March was a special tribute to ASEAN in this regard.

Indeed, the recent increase in fibs from different sides, though still at the expert level, questioning the role and place of ASEAN, the ability of the association to respond effectively to modern challenges, is a serious cause for concern.

On the other hand, the feedback of Indian experts, elites and the strategic community is clear and natural in general. Ongoing tensions on the disputed border with China, despite another attempt to disengage and withdraw troops, Beijing's activity in the South China Sea, pressure from Washington, etc., forces to seek extra balancers and guarantees of its security.

However, it appears that in seeking balance in the region and preventing the Chinese expansion, it is easy to descend into a new arms race and its militarization. In fact, these processes are indeed the case – it is sufficient to take a look at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's statistics on global military spending over the past few years per specific geographical regions. No assurance would exist that going down that way can eventually break a well-functioning and proven mechanism, without creating anything new in return.

In this context, an old joke in the "Armenian radio" style came to my mind, "Will there be WW3?" – "There will be no war, but there will be such a battle for peace that no stone would be left upon another...".

That's almost a joke. To be serious, the dangerous tendency is setting in, but...