US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a recent video conference suggested that the US might move some of its troops from Germany to the region around India, citing growing US security concerns in the Asian region. Given the dramatic rise in tensions between India and China over disputed borders in the region of Nepal and Bhutan where several soldiers from both sides reportedly died in hand-to-hand combat, the question is whether Washington is deliberately trying to fan fires of war between the two Asian giant powers. As unlikely as that might be at present, it indicates how unstable our world is becoming amid the ‘coronavirus economic depression’, and the perceived power vacuum of a US in retreat.
Speaking to a virtual Brussels German Marshall Fund Forum on June 25,Secretary of State Pompeo was asked about recent statements that the US military planned withdrawing a contingent of its forces from Germany. He replied that the Chinese threat to India and Southeast Asian nations was one of the reasons America was reducing its troop presence in Europe and deploying them to other places. He cited unspecified recent Chinese actions as “threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia and the South China Sea challenge,” adding, “We are going to make sure the US military is postured appropriately to meet the challenges.”
The Radcliffe Line
The borders between China and India and Pakistan are one of the most complex and arguably most sensitive regions for potential conflict ever since in 1947 British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten partitioned the British Indian Empire into a dominantly Muslim Pakistan and a dominantly Hindu but secular India.
That partition was opposed by Gandhi and other political leaders in India, who argued instead for a unified federal India with majority Muslim states or Hindu states retaining significant autonomy within a unified India. Mountbatten instead unveiled the secretly-drawn borders of a new Pakistan and India in a manner that fed a devastating slaughter between Hindu and Muslim as 14 million people were suddenly displaced based along the so-named Radcliffe Line that arbitrarily split the Punjab and Bengal provinces of British India between the new Pakistan and India. At the same time, as Mountbatten went back to England,