No. 102 – January 2017
Author: Manuel Modoni
Over the last decades, the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean has dramatically increased, becoming a vital part of international maritime trade. The United States are one of the major external stakeholders in the region. In particular, while all the actors need to consider energetic security policies to protect their interests, Washington is elaborating a strategy based on freedom of navigation, and cooperation with other stakeholders, but she needs to consider the dilemma of a rising China and the maritime rivalry between India and China. This paper analyses American maritime security policy in the region: firstly, it takes into consideration the main general objectives of maritime security in the area, such as the protection of the Sea Lanes of Communication, the security of the straits, the up keeping of a fleet in the region, and the penetration of the Chinese Navy in the IOR. Secondly, it analyses the opportunities offered by a cooperative security approach, taking into consideration the main initiatives of security cooperation, bilateral and multilateral, with or without the direct participation of the United States. Thirdly, it gives a broader perspective of the Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean, introducing the security maritime dilemma between India and China, underlining a partial convergence of security interests between New Delhi and Washington. Finally, it gives some hints to the geo-strategic position of Pakistan, after the upgrading port of Gwadar by China, and its possible consequences for New Delhi and Washington. From the analysis of the main security documents, it appears that the United States should devote more resources to this region. This should be done not only by increasing her military presence, but also through the strengthening of her relations between her main allies, a good military diplomacy, and the strengthening of regional institutions, in order to foster the creation of a regional security architecture.