The multifaceted universe of global alliances at the political, economic and military levels gained a new member, with a name reminiscent of chemical formulas and the potential to influence a primordial stage in the disputes for hegemony in the 21st century.
Comprised of the United States, India, United Arab Emirates and Israel, I2U2 intends to set the course in the Indo-Pacific region, in another step by the White House to contain the rise of China, especially in the Asian scenario.
The name of the diplomatic joint refers to the initials of its members in English. But, to facilitate communication, it already carries the nickname “Quad of Western Asia”, referring to the group that brings together the USA, India, Japan and Australia. This older quartet points in the same strategic direction: facing the Chinese take-off.
There are a myriad of new articulations on the international board driven by the transition from the unipolar world, with Washington’s absolute reign, to the multipolar reality, sculpted by the increased weight, mainly of China, but also by the leading role of India, Russia and the European Union.
The US bids farewell to the condition of hyperpower, an expression popularized by French Chancellor Hubert Védrine, in office from 1997 to 2002, after the 2008 financial crisis. During the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) the expression “pivot to Asia” emerged signaling the renewed priority of US foreign policy, China.
The readjustment of the focus disfavors the Middle East, previously a nerve center of interests of the White House, due to the oil issues and the fight against terrorism. Washington shifts political, economic and military resources to the vicinity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, increasing its Asian presence. However, President Joe Biden went out of his way to show, in mid-July, his continued involvement with the Middle East by visiting Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. And a highlight of the Middle Eastern tour, the I2U2, put China in focus once again.
I2U2 emerged last year but held its first summit on July 14, with Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem videoconferencing with Indian Narendra Modi and Emirati Mohammed Bin Zayed. On the agenda, emphasis on geoeconomy, food security and energy sources. The desire to sell the “positive agenda” prevailed, to build an image of a bloc distant from geopolitical challenges. The shadow of the conflicts, however, did not disappear.
There are also, without a doubt, huge economic interests in the design of an alliance that was unthinkable a few decades ago, when India was allied with the USSR and Israel and Arab countries were on the battlefields. But the dynamics of the 21st century provoked the rearrangement.
The US and Israel want to sell products and technologies to an emerging market like India. The second most populous country on the planet works to attract foreign capital and advance industrialization. The financial bonanza of the Emirates enters the equation. The logic, however, is not the same as the Manichaeism of the Cold War. Indian, Israeli and Emirati governments adhere to a new alliance with the White House, but rule out breaking with Beijing, with whom they also do business.
This is yet another example of the growing complexity of the contemporary geopolitical scenario and the strategies of some countries on how to position themselves in relation to the intensification of Sino-American rivalry.