South Asia and Beyond

China Fears Quad Diplomatic Strength More Than Militaries, Says Ex-US Commander Lt Gen (Retd) Ben Hodges

NEW DELHI: The Chinese Communist Party “really fears the combined diplomatic strength” of the Quad (U.S., Japan, Australia and India) says Lt. Gen. Frederick Benjamin Hodges (Retd), former commander U.S. Army in Europe and Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at CEPA (Centre for European Policy Analysis).

As he put it, “If the Quad brings along other nations in the region to continue to shine the light on China’s violation of international laws, it represents an important mechanism for shining the light on China’s malfeasance.”

On India-U.S and India-Russia defence ties, Gen Hodges acknowledged New Delhi’s need to “balance arms purchases” because of “U.S. sanctions as a tool for pressure” and the need to “be sure support and delivery won’t be interrupted because of political issues.” India’s accelerated purchase of American weapons platforms, he says, suggests “some sort of leverage with the Kremlin when it’s looking at challenges with China.”

Hodges described Turkey’s decision on the Russian S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence systems as “a big mistake which will never be allowed to integrate into any sort of NATO systems” but called for a “NATO-Turkey 2.0 refresh to rebuild trust”. He points out, “even a brand new Lieutenant can see immediately how strategically important Turkey is. I cannot, I don’t want to imagine Turkey, not being in NATO.”

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He described President Donald Trump’s announcement of the relocation of troops from Germany “a political decision that will take months to plan and years to execute,” adding, “my guess is what actually ends up happening will look nothing like what was announced back in July.”

He took note of unmanned drones being used in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, in Syria, Libya and the Ukraine and even by non-state actors, adding, “unmanned underwater systems for the Navy are really going to change things. They’re so much cheaper, don’t have to have hundreds of crew members and can be underway for much longer periods of time.”

He was confident about US commitment in the Indo-Pacific, saying, “the United States Navy is working with our allies and friends in the Indo Pacific region to help counter the huge increase in Chinese naval capability.”

Amitabh P. Revi

Russian language speaker and conflict journalist. Amitabh Revi has been there, done that—from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to sublime Russia, Australia and the United States. Along the way he's picked up the Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship, the Ramnath Goenka award for coverage of the Iraq War and RT's Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria.