Connect with us

Defense

An Asian NATO would help defuse tensions

Published

on

In spite of East Asia’s rising tensions, not a few pundits have said they are optimistic about China’s future relationship with her neighbours, and with the United States. Yet there are competing reasons to worry, not just about the so-called “China threat” but also the way conflicts are being handled by the region’s political leaders.

International relations experts see the three ways of making peace as deepening economic interdependence, promoting democracy and building international institutions. Unfortunately, political leaders of the major states in East Asia have so far not succeeded in making peace through any of these three approaches. Instead, they are playing the same dangerous balance of power game that European politicians did a century ago.

Although economic interdependence in the region has been deepening, especially since the Asian financial crisis almost 20 years ago, this hasn’t translated into political momentum for peace and cooperation. Business leaders in countries like China, Japan and the U.S. have not been able to mobilise their domestic political influence enough to prevent foreign relations from worsening at the expense of their own commercial interests. By contrast, both the military sector and the military-industry complex in these states have been able to exert their political influence in unconstructive foreign policy-making. The double digit increase in China’s defence budget and the prospering sales of the U.S. arms industry are examples of the wider problem.

International relations scholars have agreed since the days of Immanuel Kant that democratic states rarely fight with each other, leading many American political leaders like President Woodrow Wilson to believe that promoting democracy would increase the chances of peace around the world. In the U.S., opinion leaders have expected that China would be gradually assimilated into the democratic West as the result of engagement policies, assuring peaceful relations between China and the West. Of late, though, they have become less sanguine after watching Chinese political leaders become much more confident of their own authoritarian development model since the 2008 financial crisis. The Chinese leaders seem to believe that the days of the ‘Washington Consensus’ are gone, and those of ‘Beijing Consensus’ are now coming.

01qu

The Chinese political leadership seems, for instance, to have decided that the U.S. is no longer willing or able to exercise international leadership as the result of the 2008 economic crisis and America’s huge budget deficit

01qd

This ideological incompatibility between China and the U.S. is making the peaceful shift of relative power more difficult, if not impossible. More than a century ago, in the mid-1890s, the United States, the rising power, and Britain, the established power, were able to maintain peaceful and co-operative relations because they shared a common culture and values. In contrast, Chinese leaders tend to think that the United States has been deliberately trying to undermine the domestic political stability of China by raising issues like human rights and political freedom. President Xi Jinping’s domestic policy direction these days seems to suggest a widening divergence rather than convergence of the Chinese and western political systems.

The crucial characteristic of the foreign relations in East Asia is the absence of international institutions for security cooperation. Europe has institutions like the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the NATO alliance which have principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures that affect the international behaviours of their member states. East Asia has the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), but it is too weak to influence the behaviour of each state effectively. The lack of such institutions has made international relations in the region unstable and beset with rivalries, with political cohesion among democratic countries much weaker since the end of the Cold War.

Political leaders in East Asia, and in the U.S. too, used to stress their interest in promoting multi-lateral institutions. But this amounted to little more than political rhetoric as those leaders didn’t actually invest much political capital in institutions concerned with security co-operation. The almost defunct Six Party Talks mechanism on the de-nuclearisation of North Korea may be the only exception to this, but in general major Asian states appear to think themselves too big and too important to be constrained by the international rules or norms.

All the liberal roads towards international peace thus seem to be closed for the time being, leaving East Asian political leaders to depend on power politics as the modus vivendi for international relations. Yet the dangers of realpolitik were clearly demonstrated exactly a century ago by the disastrous events leading to World War I. Until then, a few masterminds of power politics – Austria’s Prince of Metternich after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 or German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck after German unification in 1871 – were able to craft international alliances, but today there are no comparable political geniuses. Those at the top in Asia’s major states seem captivated by their own narrowly defined national interests.

The Chinese political leadership seems, for instance, to have decided that the U.S. is no longer willing or able to exercise international leadership as the result of the 2008 economic crisis and America’s huge budget deficit. That judgment may be behind Beijing’s recent assertiveness in foreign policy and Chinese leaders may have also been testing the U.S. will to defend Japan in the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku (or in Chinese Diaoyu) Islands.

If so, they seem to be underestimating the fact that the United States, though weakened economically, is still by far the predominant superpower militarily. The U.S. has also had a century-long history of military and political commitment in East Asia since the late 19th century. Just as Britain when still the world’s naval superpower would never give in to the German challenge of naval supremacy in the early 20th century, the United States will not easily acquiesce to any challenge by China in the western Pacific. Still less so with most East Asian states so frightened by the China’s assertive behaviour that they are pleading the United States to maintain its commitment in East Asia.

Right now, in spite of the deepening economic interdependence of China and the United States, and in spite, too, of the 60 or so inter-governmental channels that exist for annual talks between Washington and Beijing, a perilous tug-of-war is taking place between the two over the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the western Pacific. And what is making matters more complicated is the difficulty that top Chinese leaders have in coordinating the conflicting interests of their country’s diverse government departments and interest groups, especially when related to military and security matters. China is no longer a monolithic state in which the top leadership firmly and consistently controls external security policy. This trend in China’s decision-making procedures towards a greater diversity of power risks causing misunderstandings and over-reactions on security matters.

Another source of danger is the psyche of today’s Japanese leaders. Two decades of economic stagnation in Japan at a time of China’s rapid rise has resulted in the rise of nationalism and of over-reaction. A major problem is that Japanese leaders who had become accustomed to the Yoshida doctrine of leaving security policy to the United States, no longer seem to have their own constructive vision for international peace, despite being the world’s third biggest economic power. Instead, their world view seems to be stuck in the 1930s, witness Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine honouring Japan’s war dead, including war criminals, and his regressive remarks on the country’s wartime history.

At the same time, the United States has seemed mainly interested in boosting Japan’s military role. From a U.S. military perspective, that may make sense strategically and financially, but it seems to lack serious consideration of the political dimension. U.S. leaders have tended to underestimate the worries of Japan’s neighbours over the retrogressive behaviour of some of the current Japanese leadership and the risk is that Washington may soon find Japan becoming more the source than the solution of international problems. Put bluntly, the United States may unconsciously be providing Japan with a diplomatic carte blanche, and may someday find itself hostage to Japan.

 

These and the many other factors in play mean it is high time for leaders in the Asia-Pacific to wake up from today’s dreamy and complacent politics. Some major compromises and a serious effort are needed to begin the process of institution-building for Asian security co-operation. If not, the Asian century may increasingly be fraught with peril.

First published by the Europe’s World, article re-posted per author’s permission

Continue Reading
Comments

Defense

Latest DPR Korea missile launch risks escalating tensions

Avatar photo

Published

on

The international community must step up efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons in the wake of the latest firing of a ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), a senior UN official told the Security Council on Wednesday.Assistant-Secretary-General Khaled Khiari briefed ambassadors on the UN’s response to the incident and its concern over the humanitarian situation in the country, more commonly known as North Korea. 

The long-range ballistic missile was launched from the northern province of Jagang on Monday morning, local time, and covered a range of 4,500 km, reaching roughly 970 km at its height. 

This marked the first time the DPRK has flown a missile over Japan since 15 September, 2017. 

UN chief’s condemnation 

Mr. Khiari recalled that the UN Secretary-General has strongly condemned the launch. 

“This was a reckless act and a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. This launch risks triggering a significant escalation of tensions in the region and beyond. It is of serious concern that the DPRK has again disregarded any consideration for international flight or maritime safety,” he said. 

UN chief António Guterres urged the country to immediately cease any further destabilising acts. 

He has also appealed for the DPRK to resume dialogue towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 

New law a concern 

Mr. Khiari spoke about other troubling developments as North Korea “launched systems with the apparent characteristics of short-range ballistic missiles” on four recent occasions. 

Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that there were indications that the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site remained active and prepared to support a nuclear test. 

The IAEA continued to observe construction activities at the Yongbyon nuclear facilities, as well as indications that the five-megawatt nuclear reactor was operating.  

Furthermore, the UN Secretary-General has also expressed deep concern over the DPRK’s adoption of a new law on nuclear policy. 

“While some States continue to rely on nuclear weapons in their security policies, nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to humanity. Their continued existence heightens the risk of unintended escalation or miscalculation. We must strengthen our efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Mr. Khiari. 

Allow humanitarian aid 

At the same time, the UN chief also remains concerned about the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, he added. 

The UN system, in coordination with international and aid partners, is ready to send staff and assistance to help the Government address medical and humanitarian needs, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“To allow for a timely and effective response, we reiterate our call for the unimpeded entry of international staff and humanitarian supplies. We also acknowledge the work of Member States toward resolving the banking channel for humanitarian operations,” said Mr. Khiari. 

He concluded by underlining that the Council’s unity in this matter “is essential to ease tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and avoid a negative action-reaction cycle.” 

Continue Reading

Defense

When Defence Planning Comes to Nought

Avatar photo

Published

on

In a 15th-century priory nestled away in a prestigious neighbourhood of Geneva, an exclusive audience gathered on the gorgeous grounds of Geneva’s University before the former Defence Minister in the cabinet of Tony Blair of Great Britain: His Excellency Geoff Hoon – that being a part of the Geneva Lecture Series concepted and conducted by prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic.

“Dramatic world events can render irrelevant the most thoughtful of planning,” started Hoon, as he highlighted five significant world events that have served that kind of impact over the last eight decades, with the Cold War in 1941 as the first event.

“It led to the subsequent division of Germany and the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union, which in turn triggered the first major western policy responses, namely Western Union in 1948 and NATO in 1949,” stated Hoon.

“The Cold War climaxed with the detonation of the Soviet atomic weapon in 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. The 1955 Warsaw Pact emerged as a counterweight to NATO and crystallised the demarcation lines.”

Hoon recalled how Western Europe’s higher living standard and political freedom motivated Eastern Europeans to “vote with their feet” as they migrated westwards.

Highlighting the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 as the second event, Hoon reminded the audience how close to nuclear conflict the world once came.

“Most are unaware, but it was only revealed in later days that a compromise was reached for the US to remove its nuclear weapons from Turkey, in return for the Soviet’s removal of theirs from Cuba.”

The missile crisis led to Khrushchev’s proposal of a direct line between US and Russian leadership, and the creation of the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties.

Next on Hoon’s list was the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990 and the Soviet Union in 1991.

“While these two events reduced the threat of nuclear conflagration, they also eradicated the containment of broader discords, as seen from the eruption of violent conflicts at the West’s doorstep, from Yugoslavia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia to Serbia,” Hoon paused before adding, “As defense minister, I ordered troops to Bosnia and Kosovo but encountered the arduous challenge of finding and deploying rapidly, flexible and agile forces.”

Hoon continued his list of events with the 9/11 attacks in September 2001. He stunned the audience by divulging how an old tourist map was relied upon due to the lack of intelligence and a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan’s geography.

“When it was evident that we needed boots on the ground, the US joined forces with the North Alliance while I took charge of procuring forces globally. However, I faced a deficiency in supporting troops and equipment, such as logisticians and heavy aircraft.”

In admirable humility, Hoon acknowledged that the lack of experience and capabilities in a hostile and primitive environment eventually led to the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He admitted that a large proportion of Afghanistan’s population was neither prepared for, nor receptive to the radical changes, and favoured the predictability of the Taliban rule over the foreign democratic style of governance.

The last event Hoon mentioned was all too familiar to the audience.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February revealed a colossal intelligence failure on the Kremlin’s part not to have anticipated the level of resistance of Ukraine. At this stage, there is no solution, and neither side is a clear winner,” said Hoon, “Truss’ calls for the return of Crimea to Ukraine as part of a peace deal are also unrealistic.”

Despite noting how the invasion has spurred countries to increase their defence spending, Hoon concluded his speech with a piece of sobering advice.

“The growing focus of the US in the Pacific, especially in the event of an attack on Taiwan by Mainland China, may pivot them away from Europe and leave the Baltic states vulnerable to a Russian attack. Europe must not only spend more, but do more to enhance our own deterring capabilities against Russia.”

Geoffrey William Hoon is a former Defence Secretary, Transport Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons, and Government Chief Whip of Great Britain. His book, See How They Run, recounts his careers as an academic, lawyer, politician, and in international business. Along with a former OSCE Secretary General Amb. Zannier, Excellency Hoon was the first invitee to the Geneva Swiss University on September 03rd, 2022, and gave this lecture under the auspices of so-called ‘Executive Master in Intl. Relations and Global Politics’. Lecture series will host current and former heads of states or government Nobel prize laureates, and other influencers in the world of politics, economy, security and energy.  

Continue Reading

Defense

Ukraine Joins NATO: Assessing Future Disasters

Avatar photo

Published

on

Image source: war.ukraine.ua

News related to the Russo-Ukrainian war is still for public consumption and scholar nowdays.  As  chess game, Russia-Ukraine are in a difficult to stop.  Maybe the saying “starting a war is easy, but it’s hard to stop it” is true.  Since the first time Vladmir Putin declared war on Ukraine until 4 regions of Ukraine (Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson) have been controlled and the referendum on joining Russia, President Putin does not seem to play with his words.  If we look at the opposite side, Ukraine is no less interesting.  President Zelensky kept trying to defend Ukrainian territory and seeking international support, even on October 1 this month, social media was filled with the news “Ukraine Joins NATO”.  This situation will obviously exacerbate the situation, not only in every war zone but will also invite other countries to be involved in the dynamics of Russia-Ukraine relations and give new chapter to the world political stage in this century.

What concern today is that the threat of a third world war is becoming more and more real.  If we remaind when the war started, some scholars related to politics and war analyze underestimated the issue of nuclear involvement in the Rusia-Ukraine conflict, but now it needs to be reconsidered.  Not only that, the crisis of natural gas and oil and wheat flour has also been felt more and more because of the Russia-Ukraine war consequence.  If Covid 19 last year was able to weaken the economies of the world’s countries, then the Russia-Ukraine war could trigger a bigger disaster.

If Ukraine with NATO signifies that the beginning of the war has begun and will worsen the times ahead.  The annexation of 4 regions of Ukraine to become part of Russia, worried many parties.  In response to this, the United Nations (UN) held an emergency meeting on 2 October.  Russia vetoed UN Security Council resolutions proposed by the United States and Albania condemning Moscow’s annexation of parts of Ukraine.  US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield introduced a resolution asking member states not to recognize Ukraine’s change in status and obliging Russia to withdraw its troops, as Russia’s annexation efforts contradict UN principles.  At least 10 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while China, Gabon, India and Brazil still abstained.  China has firmly criticized Western sanctions against Russia, but neither has it supported or assisted Russia in its military campaign.  Meanwhile, regarding the submission of Ukraine to join NATO, it is not entirely certain that it will go well.  Nancy Polesi as a spokeswoman for the US president argued that “NATO remains in principle, wide open to any country.  However, Ukraine’s desire to join NATO now needs to be carefully considered.”

Russia-Ukrainian War Timeline

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been carried out since last February.  The following is timeline of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that became an important moment

In February, Russian troops attacked the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, from the north in an attempt to overthrow the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.  With Ukrainian forces outgunned and outnumbered, many military experts expect the offensive to be successful quickly.  But after weeks of fighting, the Russians withdrew, stymied by Ukrainian resistance.

March, Russian troops attacking from the south take Kherson province.  The advances are part of efforts to secure Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and form a land bridge between the territory of Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, and the breakaway republic established with Moscow’s support that year in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In April, a Russian missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk, killed more than 50 civilians.  The attack came at the start of the Russian offensive to seize all of Donetsk and Luhansk, collectively known as the Donbas.

May,The last Ukrainian fighters surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol, a port city and industrial center on the Sea of ​​Azov.  Russian troops destroyed the city during weeks of bombing that killed thousands of civilians.  The battle ended with the siege of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works factory, which became symbol of the Ukrainian resistance.

In June, Ukrainian troops raise flag over Snake Island, a strip of land in the Black Sea off the Ukrainian city of Odesa.  Russian forces had seized the island early in the conflict, exposing the Ukrainian coast to missile attacks and a potential ground invasion.  By expelling Russian troops from the island — two months after sinking the main ship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Moscow is reducing the threat to Odesa that has further undermined the aura of Moscow’s naval power.

July, after weeks of artillery bombardment and street fighting, the last city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, Lysychansk, fell to the Russians.  However, in the weeks that followed, Moscow made little headway in its bid to secure the rest of the Donbas.

In August, Ukraine said it had launched a counter-offensive in the southern Kherson region.  The build-up took weeks, during which Ukraine deployed newly arrived missile systems supplied by the United States and other Western countries to destroy Russian ammunition dumps and other military infrastructure.  Ukraine also attacked a Russian air base in Crimea.

In September, in swift offensive, Ukraine retook most of northeastern Kharkiv, including the city of Izium, which had become Russia’s main logistics hub.  Progress, which continued, allowed Kyiv to seize momentum in the war.

October, on October 1 Russia managed to annex 15% of the territory of Ukraine.  Meanwhile, responding to Russia’s treatment, Ukraine immediately submitted an application form to join the NATO alliance in the region.  This is what is being reconsidered regarding the opportunity for a bigger war.

Listen to the Comments

Regarding Ukraine’s efforts to hasten its efforts to join NATO, Dmitry Medvedev as Deputy Chair of the Russian Security Council said that “Ukraine joining NATO is the same as accelerating the occurrence of world war 3”.  Furthermore, Henry Kissinger, who is a former US Secretary of State who also serves as a scientist, diplomat, politician, geopolitical consultant, and veteran has also commented on what is happening between Russia and Ukraine at the moment.  According to Kissinger “Ukraine must cede territory to Russia if it wants peace”.  He further said that “it would be unwise for the United States to include Ukraine in NATO”.  Henry Kissinger, dubbed the “Prophet of the Modern Century,” argues that Washington tried indiscriminately to include all former members of the Soviet bloc under its umbrella after the Berlin wall fell.  So that the entire territory between Russia’s borders became open to restructuring.  When viewed from Russia’s point of view, the United States then attempted to integrate all of Ukraine’s territory without exception, into the American-led strategic system, this development essentially removing Russia’s historic “safety belt”.  According to Kissinger, sooner or later the West and Russia will engage in formal or informal dialogue, perhaps in a very important way of exploration in the nuclear circle.

Back to Think

Basically, the main reason for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, while NATO according to Russia is a threat to its territory and power.  However, Ukraine’s desire to join NATO was not the only reason for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  From February to October 2022, the Russian-Ukrainian invasion seems to be progressing, although it is too early to predict and analyze the Russian-Ukrainian invasion, but it does not seem wrong to prepare for the worst in the future.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine not only involved Russia and Ukraine, but also dragged other countries and had an impact in many ways in international life, especially the involvement of the United States, which is still considered a world leader today.  We still cannot provide an in-depth analysis and take into account what will happen in the near future, because the war is not over yet and the human life are dynamic.  Regardless of any views, be realists, liberals or constructivists, the people who will suffer will suffer.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Africa1 hour ago

Mozambique Marks Five Years of Extreme Violence  in Cabo Delgado

Mozambique marks five years since extreme violence erupted in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, forcing nearly 1 million people to...

Tech News3 hours ago

Solutions to Strengthen Digital Infrastructure for Learning in India

As part of its Education 4.0 India initiative, the World Economic Forum has launched a new Education 4.0 India Report...

Reports5 hours ago

Deeper Participation in Global Value Chains Will Strengthen Recovery of the Philippine Economy

Post-pandemic, the Philippines has more opportunities to deepen its participation in global value chains (GVCs) especially in business clusters like...

Finance7 hours ago

Pakistan’s Economy Slows Down While Inflation Rises Amid Catastrophic Floods

Pakistan’s economy is expected to grow by only 2 percent in the current fiscal year ending June 2023. According to...

World News8 hours ago

First EU TalentOn brings science to life in competition to solve global challenges

By  HORIZON STAFF Criss-crossed by a network of canals, the city of Leiden (pop. 120 000) is just 16km north of...

Environment9 hours ago

New UN report urges Europe to step-up action over triple environmental crisis

A new UN report presented on Wednesday to the Organization’s highest pan-European environmental policy body, covering 54 countries, is calling...

Health & Wellness9 hours ago

WHO issues warning on Indian cough syrup linked to 66 Gambian child deaths

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that a deadly batch of cough mixture connected to the deaths of dozens...

Trending