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Doklam : The Information Warfare Campaign and A Solution

Anurag Dwivedi Writes: Since withdrawal and concessions are no longer an option thanks to the IW campaigns on both side, the correct way forward may be that neither side withdraws and instead both China and Bhutan create a temporary post in Doklam held by a mutually decided administratively viable strength of one platoon each.

Anurag Dwivedi Writes: As the Doklam standoff continues, China has gone on an Information Warfare (IW) offensive through its media and spokespersons. Unfortunately the campaign is ill planned and has created a situation where a peaceful resolution has become increasingly difficult.

One of the first tenets of IW is that the campaign should be credible and based on some truth. In the Doklam case, the truth is that Doklam is disputed territory. Bhutan and India wouldn’t have reacted to Chinese road construction if the region was undisputed. The Chinese media and spokesperson have instead gone on a rampage giving historical proof of Chinese sovereignty and issuing dire warnings and threats. The Indian media reacted and went on a similar ballistic path. This has created a Catch 22 situation where no concessions are now possible and the political stakes have become enormous.

The second fundamental tenet of IW is to never ridicule the opponent. The Chinese media has been doing the exact opposite. This only steels the nerves of its opponents who dig in for the long haul and become determined to fight to the last man last round regardless of consequence. Sun Tzu would be turning in his grave at this poor strategy from his countrymen.

Thirdly, an IW campaign has to be conducted after analysis. This typically involves exploiting such themes that the adversary is vulnerable to. For example western countries have often used human rights as a theme against growing economies like China and India. Threatening and intimidation is also one of the IW techniques and seems to be the Chinese favourite. Unfortunately it works only if one side has a massive military superiority like the Americans enjoyed against Iraq. If tiny North Korea with zero economy can stand up to USA, then it is foolhardy that a much more powerful country like India can be successfully intimidated. Naturally, the wrong technique has led to a wrong outcome.

Since withdrawal and concessions are no longer an option thanks to the IW campaigns on both side, the correct way forward may be that neither side withdraws and instead all sides create a holding post in Doklam held by a mutually decided strength of one platoon each.

If such a breakthrough can be announced on the sidelines of the forthcoming BRICS summit, it will enhance the stature of the respective leaders and also break the relentless information war fuelling the controversy. Doklam could even be converted into a trading outpost amongst the three nations as part of China’s belt and road initiative once enough confidence is restored.

 

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