The Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Australia and India, made during Kevin Rudd's visit to New Delhi in November 2009, is part of a number of security agreements being entered into across the Asia Pacific. For Australia the Declaration is a notable step in the process of developing a closer security relationship with India. However, some grant it wider significance, seeing it as plugging a "missing link" in a web of bilateral security agreements connecting Australia, India, the United States and Japan—the four members of the so-called Quadrilateral security dialogue that was proposed and then quickly abandoned in 2007. With the AustraliaIndia Declaration all four members of the putative "Quad" now have bilateral security arrangements with each other, facilitating the further development of their relationships. Should, as some argue, the Declaration and other bilateral security arrangements be seen as heralding a coalition among AsiaPacific maritime powers implicitly aimed at containing China? This comment will argue that the Declaration is indicative of the growing strategic importance of India to Australia, a relationship which is likely to develop over time. However, there are some important differences the security perspectives of New Delhi and Canberra, and the relationship is unlikely to be substantially defined by any perceived China threat. This comment will first provide an overview of recent developments in the security relationships among Australia, the United States, Japan and India which have led some to see the development of an informal security coalition between them. It will then examine the content of the Declaration and consider how it compares to the Japan-India Security Declaration. Finally, it will consider the long-term significance of the Declaration and the likely shape of the security relationship between Australia and India in future years.
|Published - 2010