Read about the unexpected chill during Secretary of State Kissinger's 1974 visit to India, marked by political tensions and a surprising reception, as reported by the New York Times.
Perhaps the most consequential global geopolitical development of the 21st century has been the pivot of the USA from West Asia and the AF-PAK region to the Indo-Pacific. Till now. For over the past year-and-a-half, Washington has turned its attention closer home to America’s own shores on the Atlantic Ocean with the objective of initiating a new multilateral effort to preserve, in the words of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in September 2022, “a peaceful, prosperous, open, and cooperative Atlantic.”
A year later, at a meeting chaired by Mr Blinken, 32 Atlantic countries had signed a Joint Declaration on Atlantic Cooperation. It is designed, write US foreign policy experts Bruce Jones and Daniel S. Hamilton, to create the first-ever platform for collaboration among countries of the Atlantic basin initially on maritime domain awareness, countering illegal fishing, environmental degradation, and the ocean sciences.
The Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation or PAC, as it has been unofficially abbreviated, stems from the recognition that the four Atlantic continents ~ North and South America, Africa, and Europe ~ are today inextricably linked and connected. The Atlantic basin, point out Jones and Hamilton, is becoming a central arena of globalisation and a microcosm of key global trends, including the diffusion of power, growing interdependencies, and spread- ing transnational risks. It is, of course, also the world’s most heavily travelled ocean and has become one of the globe’s principal energy reservoirs.
The Atlantic data sea-way, already the busiest in the world, is expanding exponentially and fast. Pan-Atlantic commercial flows rival and in areas like services, investment, and digital commerce exceed those of the Pacific. Vitally, the Atlantic Ocean plays a pivotal role with respect to changing both regional and global climate and weather patterns. Atantic peoples are on the front lines of global climate change, greater superstorms, and rising sea levels. They are also collectively threatened by a growing pan-Atlantic nexus of drugs, organised crime, piracy, and illegal maritime activities.
Yet, till now, pan-Atlantic governance mechanisms and diplomatic cooperation were largely con- spicuous by their absence. There is no corresponding grouping for Atlantic countries, for example, such as the Pacific basin initiative (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) which was established over three decades ago. The PAC, most analysts agree, has the potential to change that. PAC’s commitment to uphold international law including the United Nations Charter wherein signatories acknowledged that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework that governs activities in the ocean and the seas is important.
Especially as the USA, which is a major global enforcer of the Law of the Sea, has not ratified the treaty. The signatories also committed themselves to uphold the principle of nation- states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity; low-hanging fruit, perhaps, but one that may prove at least part-paliative for smaller countries that are worried about great power rivalry undermining national jurisdictions.
Last but not least, is the PAC’s recognition of the “special interest and primary role” that the Atlantic states have in the region which, signatories pledged, would aim to promote an Atlantic in which states are free from interfer- ence, coercion, or aggressive action. The move, assiduously brought to fruition by Washington, is a clear indication of America’s concern about the long shadow cast by extra-regional powers’ ambitions in Atlantic waters.