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Geraldine asked : What does ‘strategic relationship’ between two nations mean? Does it mean only military ties or more than that?

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  • Ali Ahmed replies: A 'strategic relationship', as the term suggests, involves a shared understanding between the two or more states involved on the nature of threats in the environment and the place of their collective power in helping mitigate the threats. This does not amount to an ‘alliance’, meaning a deeper relationship in which the states are treaty bound to come to each other’s assistance in case of materialisation of a threat against any member state. In a strategic relationship, the states involved, that could number two or more, discuss the role of power through periodic bilateral (multilateral as the case may be) confabulations at a high, ministerial and bureaucratic-military official, level. The ambit of these talks can be quite broad, to include technology, strategic perspectives, state of and progress in the relationship, future directions of international affairs and the relations in particular, etc. It need not be restricted to the military sphere and could include civilian areas, such as nuclear technology, space, agriculture, etc.

    The relationship has material and physical dimensions in that there may exist a buyer-seller relationship between the states in terms of armaments and high technology, military training, exchange between subject matter experts, assistance to the position of the other in global forums to an extent, etc. The relationship is usually forged through a written document that brings out the demands on and expectations of all sides. Usually this may not have any hidden clauses, but there would be confidential exchanges and areas of such high end cooperation such as in the intelligence field and technology. The across the board relationship, its strength and depth make for a strategic relationship or partnership. Clearly, it amounts to more than military ties. There are mutual benefits in that the strategic or relative power (political, diplomatic and military) position of both stands to increase by maintaining the relationship. The relationship is not usually directed at any other adversary state or group of states, but the fact that it exists helps the participating states in respect of increasing their bargaining position in respect of that state.

    Posted on February 16, 2012