The US surprisingly debunked India’s F-16 conspiracy theory a week before the onset of the country’s upcoming month-long general election for reasons that have to do with protecting the Pentagon’s prestige and playing “good cop, bad cop” with New Delhi in order to extract maximum concessions from its new “Lead From Behind” Great Power proxy.
The “deep state”-connected US international affairs publication “Foreign Policy” reported that unnamed American officials confirmed to them that Washington has accounted for all of the F-16s in Pakistan’s arsenal and thus debunked India’s conspiracy theory that it allegedly shot one of them down back in February.
The timing of this announcement surprised many observers because it came just a week before the onset of India’s month-long general election process and is considered to be a heavy blow to incumbent Prime Minister Modi ahead of his uphill reelection battle.
This might initially seem perplexing because he’s regarded as the most pro-American leader in India’s history after agreeing to the 2016 LEMOA deal that allows US forces to use all Indian military bases on a case-by-case “logistical” basis, but there’s actually a reasonable explanation for why the US “leaked” its findings at the time that it did.
Protecting The Pentagon’s Prestige
The US was left red-faced after its Indian “Lead From Behind” Great Power proxy clumsily concocted its now-discredited conspiracy theory in a desperate attempt to “save face” after being humiliated by the global pivot state of Pakistan, which had the temporary effect of muddling the minds of the international audience to New Delhi’s benefit but also cast Washington’s military-industrial complex in an extremely negative light by claiming that a vintage Soviet warplane was able to down an impressive American jet.
Even though India knew that its lie would eventually be exposed after it had the audacity to publicly urge the US to investigate its false claims, it wrongly gambled that Islamabad wouldn’t allow Washington to verify this in a timely manner owing to the visible deterioration of Pakistani-American ties since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, having ignored their relative improvement over the past few months since the revival of the Afghan peace process.
Pakistan, not having anything to hide because it knew that India was lying all along, actively facilitated the US’ request to investigate India’s claims, and America wasted no time in protecting the prestige of its military-industrial complex by punishing its proxy for impugning the Pentagon’s reputation just a week before the start of India’s general election process.
“Cracking The Whip”
This also served the dual purpose of “cracking the whip” by functioning as a “bad cop” ploy to the US’ usual “good cop” one towards India, therefore increasing the chances that America can extract maximum strategic concessions from its new regional proxy, most likely in the military and especially economic spheres.
The US knows that Modi already locked India in an irreversible alliance with it that Congress would be powerless to change even if it came out on top in the upcoming elections because these two countries’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep states”) are already too closely interconnected to be decoupled, which means that Modi is nowadays expendable to the US and Trump probably wouldn’t mind him losing power as punishment for publicly impugning America’s multibillion-dollar military-industrial complex and possibly costing it some lucrative deals in the process.
From One Conspiracy To Another
Nevertheless, India is already rolling out a crackpot conspiracy theory alleging that all of this is just fake news and that the US is simply covering up for the F-16’s failure, copying a page from the playbook of the Russiagaters who are still desperately continuing to push that respective conspiracy despite Mueller’s report certifiably debunking it.
That effort speaks to the Bollywood mentality presently pervasive in India’s “deep state” which condescendingly presumes that the intended audience of the country’s “strategic communication” campaigns is extremely unintelligent and incapable of even the most basic reasoning skills, as the reactionary “counter-narrative” (if it can even be called that) of screaming “fake news” and refusing to recognize reality as it objectively exists would never be propagated if the originators of this claim respected their audience’s intelligence.
It might actually be the case that this rudimentary infowar effort is very effective with India’s domestic audience, which could partially explain why its “deep state” made the false assumption that the international one would fall for this as well, but the foreign audience at large doesn’t have any reason to take India’s debunked claims at face value anymore and will probably react in a counterproductive way by tuning out its narratives in the future or at least seriously scrutinizing them the next time the country makes similarly serious claims.
While it initially took many people off guard, it actually makes complete sense that the US would expose India’s F-16 lies ahead of the country’s upcoming election in order to defend the prestige of its military-industrial complex and “crack the whip” by playing “good cop, bad cop” with the now-expendable Modi, though the Bollywood-indoctrinated Indian “deep state” is still so shocked by this development that all it knows how to do is respond by propagating a self-discrediting crackpot conspiracy theory that will likely end up being counterproductive to its long-term infowar interests.
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