xi's moments
Home | Featured Contributors

Talisman Sabre 2023 a risky geopolitical game

By Emilia Fernandez | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-07-26 10:26

Photo taken on June 22, 2022 shows the White House and a stop sign in Washington, DC, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

In this ever-changing global geopolitical landscape, the ongoing Australia-US joint military exercise, known as Talisman Sabre 2023, has garnered considerable global attention. Since 2005, this war game with various branches of armed forces has been conducted as a biennial joint exercise, and the current one is considered to be the largest in its 18-year history, involving more than 30,000 troops and participants from 13 countries. Though it appears impressive on paper under the pretext of "defending security and democratic values", this multi-nation logistics exercise will ultimately exacerbate regional tensions by implementing Washington's hidden agenda. It is high time to analyze the underlying motives and the negative implications of this massive military drill, thinking beyond its grandeur and spectacle.

For a long time, the United States has been pursuing strategies to contain China's growing influence in the "Indo-Pacific" region. As a part of Washington's broader strategies, the recent US-led military endeavor serves dual ulterior purposes behind the shadow of the field training exercise. Firstly, it aims to enhance combined military capabilities and preparedness for potential conflict involving China. Noteworthy, this is a clear manifestation of the broader US aim to ensure its dominance and hegemony in the Pacific region. Secondly, this exercise intends to develop a network of military alliances to encircle and contain China's growing influence in the region. Not to mention, Washington's intention is not solely limited to regional power dynamics but rather curbing China's expanding global influence. Hence, experts tag this aggressive military exercise as counterproductive as it will lead to heightened tensions and regional instability instead of promoting peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

This military exercise has become a concern not only for China but also for the rest of the world for two alarming reasons which should not be overlooked. Firstly, the non-participant country may interpret this multi-country military exercise as "exclusionary" and "discriminatory", potentially creating more divisions and groupings within the region. Secondly, the coercive nature of tactics used by Washington to convince these countries to participate in this military drill is really unjustifiable. By forcing countries to participate in the name of protecting their shared interest and common values, Washington is actually putting the participant countries at risk of damaging their stable diplomatic and economic relations with China, the world's second-largest economy and major global power. Such coercive measures will breed nothing but immediate "resentment and retaliation" and hinder the prospects of "dialogues and discussions" in the long run.

Though the US and Australia present this large-scale exercise as routine military training aimed at enhancing regional security and interoperability among their allies, this exercise will undoubtedly dense the ongoing geopolitical rivalry between the US and China. Despite the claim of defensive intentions, China may decode the exercise's offensive actions as a demonstration of force and preparation for a probable conflict. Such interpretation may add fuel to the feelings of insecurity and paranoia among China's common people. Subsequently, feelings of insecurity could prompt China to respond by ramping up its own military preparedness and increasing defensive postures. Hence, this high-profile military exercise, as a confrontational approach, would contribute to the arms race, a prolonged cycle of escalation and an unstable security dilemma in the region.

Ironically, the visible display of military prowess in this two-week-long military exercise overshadows the pressing need for diplomatic discussions to identify common interests and manage differences in the "Indo-Pacific" region. Undoubtedly, a sustainable and secure "Indo-Pacific" warrants a multifaceted approach ranging from diplomatic to economic to political to security dimensions. An overemphasis on military projection, as a means of boosting security, may initially satisfy the US allies by showcasing strengths, but it fails to address the underlying requirements needed to ease tension in this region as it diverts attention from peaceful negotiations and conflict resolution.

While "Exercise Talisman Sabre" may appear as an impressive military practice, its unintended consequences must not be understated. The aggressive posturing and heightened military readiness exhibited during drills can inadvertently increase uncertainty and anxiety among regional actors, leading to misconceptions, miscalculations, and misunderstandings. Besides, this hostile drill risks perpetuating a cycle of strategic mistrust, insecurity and confrontation in the region. Also, this US-backed drill provokes other regional powers especially China for countermeasures as Beijing may perceive it as a threat to its national interests and security.

Rather than ensuring regional peace and prosperity, this provocative military drill could inadvertently push countries further apart, deepen divides and create a dangerous zero-sum game. On top of that, the involvement of multiple nations in this military drill adds layers to its complexities and makes the Pacific region a potential flashpoint for geopolitical tension. In order to promote lasting peace and security in this region, an inclusive and comprehensive approach, based on diplomatic maneuvers, should take precedence over militaristic demonstrations of power and capabilities.

Emilia Fernandez is a security and political analyst with a focus on South Asian geopolitics, a PhD researcher at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought about our stories, then send us your writings at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349