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NATO’s provocative maneuver in Baltic

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By using its military bases across the globe, set up following Sept-11, USA is getting the NATO effectively contain Russian territories militarily from all possible sides. The enemies of NATO have been communism, Islam and Russia and it has been dealing with each of them simultaneously by employing all available sources, including communists, Muslims, Russians and Jews, others. That is the grand strategy of US super power for dealing with entire humanity.

Yes, the western military corpus NATO with enormous terror resources and military potentials cannot be quiet for too long and it moves about according its regular plans, provoking or even directly threatening Russia as a routine behavior, after all, NATO had come into existence soon after the Second World War to corner and contain Russia all over the world, trying to curtail its enormous influence world over.

Ever since the Cold War officially ended, USA and its NATO team have been very consciously undertaking steps that hurt the mighty Kremlin but Russia could not do anything that would make the western leaders and their media lords declare it a ‘dictatorship’.

Even though the end of Cold War formally ended military rivalry between USA and Russia leading to the dismantling of the Warsaw Treaty of Eastern military forces under Moscow command opposed to Western alliance NATO under USA, NATO is still targeting Russia and its allies since Warsaw Treaty has ceased to exist. Moscow’s predicament is bad because it cannot revive the Warsaw Pact as most the members of it are now on the side of NATO.

Chess game

As usual, the former ideological adversaries and Cold War rivals, USA and Russia are engaged in a cold chess game, making moves that confuse the world and terrorize the humanity. Many countries also play their own games by taking sides with either of the top nations.

USA has been also busy in using the former allies of Russia in East Europe and Eurasian, Baltic region, Caucasus and Caspian Sea Basin, Central Asia and elsewhere against its global interests. But there is nothing that the Kremlin can do to bring those nations back into its fold. It can only feel proud of its glorious imperial past even as the NATO keeps threatening by targeting its borders, now with the Baltic nations.

The Baltic countries (also known as Baltic States) is northeastern region of Europe containing the countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on the eastern shores of Baltic Sea. Baltic countries have its name for being bounded on the west and north by the Baltic Sea. Baltic countries usually are referred to the territories east of Baltic Sea which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I.

The republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which became constituent republics of the former Soviet Union in 1940, regained their independence in 1991. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are now parliamentary democracies and oppose Russian domination in the region and hence support the US led NATO.

Baltic region though has clearly moved away from Russian control and has become a part of Western military and political block, the NATO thinks Russia is keenly waiting for a chance and can use the region in future.

The Baltic governments are actively encouraging the deployments and calling for still more NATO military hardware over and above the vast stocks of tanks, artillery and heavy weapons pre-positioned throughout Eastern Europe by NATO since 2014. Backed by the Western alliance, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are placing their societies on a war footing. They are putting their armed forces on high alert and awaiting the call for mobilization against Russia.

US led NATO has already brought most of Russia’s former allies in Europe and Asia under its control by skillfully playing the terrorism card. As a result, Washington has more military bases across the world than Russia or any other power.

Unequals

Although it lost the super power status it used to enjoy along with USA as an equal nation, Russia still has all the necessary embodiments, including strategic weapons and nuked missiles , to give a strong opposition to USA and NATO.

Now Russia is facing the NATO almost single handedly giving the Washington all hopes of superiority in real War Theater. China and the partners in economic block Moscow leads cannot be taken for granted. India, for instance, is already hanging from the US wings in the hope of obtaining a UN veto inclusive package to retain neighboring Jammu Kashmir by brutality.

Though Israel, feeling the pinch of White House, is trying jump into the Russian bandwagon by coordinating intelligence on Syria and USA in search of New Middle East to control the confused Arab leaders and, mainly, to retain all illegal settlements inside Palestine as its own property and its ‘birth rights” to kill Palestinians, their children in order to promote expansionist ideology in Arab world. Perhaps, Israeli shift towards Russia has been facilitated by the Neocons seeking to make Israel a super power to outsmart USA, Russia and China.

With Russia also helping USA advance its military interests in Mideast, interestingly, USA considers the NATO and Israel the perfect tool to advance its global interests. Therefore, the NATO is interested in recreating the Cold War atmosphere world over so that it could sell terror goods to the ‘needy’ powers with plenty of resources, like India.

NATO plan

The USA-dominated imperialist alliance has relentlessly stoked confrontation with Moscow and laid the foundations for a continental-scale war aimed at breaking up and conquering the Russian Federation. In Eastern Europe, under the guise of “rotational deployments,” NATO has established a permanent military force. Put forth for public consumption as a response to Russian “meddling” in Ukraine and alleged provocations by Russia’s military along the frontiers of NATO’s eastern member states, the real purpose of NATO’s spearhead force is to prepare for a ground invasion across Russia’s western border even while keeping Russia busy with some other complicated issues.

The continued massing of Western troops along Russia’s border makes good on US President Barack Obama’s September 2014 promise that the US and NATO powers would provide “eternal” military assistance to the Baltic states. In effect, Obama committed the most powerful military alliance in the world to waging all-out war against Russia should one of the tiny Baltic states claim to be under attack from Moscow.

The charge of “Russian aggression” against Europe is among the central lies employed by present-day imperialism. Seizing on the secession of Crimea from post-coup Ukraine and the enclave’s integration into the Russian Federation, the NATO establishment has sought to justify its war preparations as a defensive precaution in the face of a Putin government supposedly primed to invade Central Europe.

The Western military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed NATO is sending 4,000 additional troops to Eastern Europe in the name of reassuring Poland and the Baltic states and “We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multi-national battalions in the Baltic States and Poland”. The announcement of new troop deployments comes in the midst of Operation Anaconda 2016, involving more than 30,000 NATO forces in the biggest war drill held in Poland since the end of the Second World War. Some 12,500 of the 30,000 soldiers are American.

The USA, Germany and Britain will each contribute 1,000 soldiers, with Canada will confirm its own contingent of 1,000. The deployments are among the most provocative actions taken by the NATO high command in the course of its anti-Russian buildup, now well into its second year. With ever greater recklessness, the US and European ruling elites are sowing the seeds of war across the width and breadth of the Eurasian landmass which is under the Kremlin supervision.

According to media reports, NATO officials are looking for Canada to deploy about 1,000 combat soldiers to a base in Latvia on a permanent basis. These Canadian soldiers would be part of a joint German, British and US Baltic deployment totaling 4,000 troops. NATO has apparently singled out Canada to provide troops for a new deterrent force in Eastern Europe.

Since April 2014, Canada has been sporadically deploying small contingents of combat troops to Eastern Europe for brief training exercises. These rotating missions were part of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s Operation Reassurance, which was triggered by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and the severe unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

The integration of former Soviet republic Georgia into NATO is slated to be a core issue at next month’s NATO summit in Warsaw. Russia and the pro-Western government of Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, and Moscow has vociferously opposed the country’s joining the US-dominated military alliance. The integration of Georgia would greatly facilitate the projection of USA and NATO power against Russia’s southern flank in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea Basin.

The NATO buildup in Eastern Europe is producing levels of militarist frenzy not seen in Europe since the 1930s. Last week’s announcement of intensified US military operations in Afghanistan is bound up with preparations to use that country as well to strike against Russia’s “soft underbelly” in Central Asia, in particular against Russian interests in Kazakhstan.

Justification

The more hawkish experts breathlessly refer to the Baltic States — Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — as NATO’s eastern “flank” (rather than using the words border or boundary), implying that a war with Russia is already underway.

US, European imperialism is committed to defend the Baltics because it supplies them with a pretext and a staging area for covert and military operations along Russia’s flanks. In Washington and some European capitals, powerful elements within the imperialist circles are actively conspiring to engineer further provocations and destabilization operations against Russia.

Citing unnamed NATO sources, British media accused Russia of “circumventing the Vienna accord and building up troop numbers in sensitive locations on Europe’s doorstep.” Announcing plans to boost military expenditures by $3 billion annually, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg declared: “This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally.”

US decision to retain the NATO to face “future threats” though the Soviet threat was over, is justified with the “invention” of terrorism. Now the NATO seems convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had begun his quest for world domination, and NATO needed to rush terror forces in state uniforms to the ramparts of Fortress Europe. The NATO combat contingents have since long dutifully conducted training operations in Poland and the Baltic, obviously targeting Russia.

Russian involvement in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea and now military strikes in Syria are used for strengthening their strategic position. But Putin’s annexation of the Crimea followed a bloodless occupation and a referendum wherein 96.77 per cent of the population chose to join Russia rather than remain a part of the internally collapsing Ukraine. Two years after Russia’s annexation, more than 80 per cent of Crimean poll respondents reported that they remain happy with their decision to secede from Ukraine.

In contrast, nine years after Kosovo’s declared independence and 17 years after the NATO intervention, residents are voting with their feet: Considered the poorest and most corrupt country in Europe, tens of thousands of Kosovars out of a population of less than two million have joined the mobs of migrants seeking a better life in Western Europe.

In truly hypocritical fashion, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, protecting imperialism and Zionism, denounced the Crimea referendum as a sham and burbled, “You can’t just redraw the map of Europe.” This would be the same Hilary Clinton whose presidential hubby Bill led 1999’s 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in order to create an independent Kosovo. That bloody intervention cost the lives of thousands of Serbian and Albanian citizens, and when Kosovo did proclaim unilateral independence in 2007, it was done without any referendum.

Furthermore, Putin’s ”land grab” in the Crimea was something of a strategic necessity given the February 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev and the subsequent civil unrest across Ukraine. The Crimea was historically Russian and even after Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to lease from Ukraine its navy base in Sevastopol. The current lease was not due to expire until 2040, but Putin could not risk a pro-Western regime in Kiev threatening his fleet’s expulsion. Hence the need for annexation!

In the subsequent interval, Putin has made no further claims on additional Ukrainian territory. He has not annexed the rebellious pro-Russian eastern provinces and Russian foreign policy remains committed to the breakaway, self-declared independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk remaining within a Ukrainian federation — albeit with increased autonomy. Also, against all predictions by those longing for a good old Cold War-style showdown with the ‘Russkies’, the Minsk II ceasefire agreement continues to hold, with only occasional minor infractions by both sides.

For NATO to move 4,000 combat troops right up to Russia’s Baltic borders at this moment has to be seen as a deliberate provocation of Russia, just as things seem to be stabilizing. The question is: When Canada was asked to contribute to this force at the Russian door steps, why are the other European NATO members staying away in droves?

The Baltic Sea is a brackish inland sea, perhaps the largest body of brackish water in the world. As it is inland sea, the water flow between Baltic Sea and the North Sea is small, so the countries around the Baltic Sea are reducing the pollution and trying to make cleaner Baltic Sea.

Unfortunately, USA and NATO are eager to pollute the region by terror wars with Russia. Already the NATO’s wars in Afghanistan and Arab world have contributed to the fast changing and deadly polluted enviromental scenario.

NATO is harmful to humanity and atmosphere too!

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Revitalising the Quad

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With a high-level informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of US, India, Japan and Australia on the side lines of the last month UN General Assembly meeting, the much needed impetus has gained to the quadrilateral security dialogue (quad) concerning the security of the Indo-Pacific. The genesis of the quad grouping can be traced back to the 2007 Malabar naval exercise, but proclaimed it as an idea for security of the Indo-Pacific by Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe in 2013 with his ‘Security Diamond’ concept and revived it in 2017 with a new security dialogue mechanism. Since then the four member countries have had official level meetings largely on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. Indeed, quad is a grouping of regional heavyweights in their backyard, Japan in the western Pacific, India in the Indian Ocean and Australia in the southern Pacific along with the most powerful military in the world, the US.  However, China perceived it as a mechanism to counter its rise.  Undoubtedly, the looming China “threat” is the rallying point of the quad formation. 

China views quad as a grouping as well as individual countries differently. Beijing sees quad is a potential military alliance under US leadership against China. At the same time it doesn’t see individual regional countries as a threat and presumably view with varied perspectives: it opposes Japan  being a ‘normal’ military power but is satisfied with an ally of the US; it objects to a strong India-US defence cooperation because US technical support would help India become a regional hegemon in the Indian Ocean theatre; while remain neutral to Australia.

In a similar fashion the member countries also view China “threat” separately- for US, it’s a peer competitor in spite of the economic interdependence  andonly US can afford the magnitude of current trade war, while India and Japan are its neighboring countries and major trade partners so ill-afford to face security challenges or economic misery, and China is Australia’s largest trade partner but no qualms over security. And, India is more reticent in strengthening the quad because of its fear of “ally-entrapment”. Conversely, China continues its expansionism in the maritime domain, now reached upto India’s backyard.  However, no single country can independently challenge China’s might and that China wants this situation continues in future.  

Asia requires a regional balancing mechanism

As realism explains, peace and stability across the regions is ensured through balance of power. If one country emerged as a regional hegemon then it would seek to exploit others and start exercising its will over lesser states. Eminent realist Kenneth Waltzargued “unbalanced power, whoever wields it, is a potential danger to others.” So far, the old cold war centric balancing and US preponderance have been the main pillars of stability in Asia. But with the rise of China that balance is diminishing and Asia seems to be moving in the direction of unipolarity. However, a unipolar Asia with China at the centre would harm the interest of other heavyweights so structure demands a balancing mechanism to contain one-country dominance. The quad formation can be seen as a structurally driven balancing of secondary powers to prevent the region from unipolarity

At the same time, quad faces perspective and structural problems.  No country in the region is willing to formally join in anycounter-mechanism that is being touted as ant-China. And China is vehemently opposing any sort of coming together of these four countries. For instance, when 2007 edition of bilateral India- US Malabar  naval exercise was converted into a quadrilateral, China sent demarche to the participants asking the rationale behind such grouping and since then the four countries  havenever joined together for a naval exercise.

Another perspective problem is how the quad is acceptable for other regional countries. Southeast Asian states fear that the regional politics will be dominated by great power game and Southeast Asia would be a theatre for jostling by these powers. So it upholds its time-tested inclusive approach in all regional formations, and nothing short of inclusivity.

On the contrary, quad must be seen as another regional organisations along with APEC, ARF, EAS and ADMM plus. All these organisations have different objectives, some of it are security oriented, and deliberations are in a consensus manner. However, none of it is able to address hard security issues that if a military clash took place between China and others then it is hardly to manage under such organizations. Though quad is not a region-wide organization but has the potential military capability to contain the threat both individually and collectively, if it is necessary.   At some level the region requires a power balancing mechanism to maintain peace and stability.

Structurally, it is not a formal alliance so does no clear agenda and an action plan, except the idea of the need for preserving rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Japan and Australia are close allies of the US while India wants to keep its ‘strategic autonomy’ and doesn’t want to give any commitment to larger regional issues unless it directly confronts New Delhi. As a result, there has been no coherent agenda as to how this mechanism can be brought up. Threat perceptions and the counter mechanisms are varied for the quad members. 

Under these circumstances, Quad needs to be kept under the soft balancing tactics as of now. A hard balancing by forming a military alliance would bring a cold war structure  that will destabilize the region. The soft balancing can be converted into a hard balancing according to circumstances that if China ever sought to become a revisionist state.  At the same time, instead of as a leader US should be a facilitator of the quad and the regional countries of India Japan and Australia should be allowed to drive the quad. Today trilateral mechanism blossoms within the quad: US- India-Japan and US-Japan- Australia, but there is no India-Japan- Australia trilateral mechanism.   An India-Japan- Australia regional mechanism under the umbrella of quad can bring more energy to the quad. Also, it necessarily requires an action plan which could convince other regional countries of the importance of the quad in Asian security scenario.

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The Game-changing Fallibility of BMD Systems: Lessons from the Middle East and South Asia

M Waqas Jan

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As the Middle East’s major powers recalculate their defence and foreign policies following last month’s missile strikes on Saudi oilfields, there have emerged some telling lessons with regard to the changing nature of modern warfare. While these lessons are perhaps painfully obvious to the likes of Saudi Arabia who have directly been on the receiving end of these attacks, they are also evident in the near deafening introspection being undertaken by the region’s other power brokers, the United States and Israel as well. This has been made clear by the fact that even after a month since the attacks took place, there remains a definite and near ironic aspect of shock and awe to what was otherwise a quick, covert and precision strike on a highly valuable target.

What’s more, the fact that the strike took place despite the presence of one of the world’s most sophisticated missile defense systems, presents a telling example of how the technological balance in cruise missile development has shifted more in favor of offensive strikes at the expense of a once reliable defensive capability. As such, the ease and precision with which one of the world’s most closely guarded facilities were struck, shows that based on the widespread availability of current technologies, it is perhaps more reliable to count on a missile system’s offensive strike capabilities. Consequently, the opportunity cost of investing in and developing expensive missile defense shields based on this scenario becomes tremendously higher.

These lessons provide valuable strategic import to another nearby region which is also brimming with tensions amongst two extremely well equipped and militarily capable states. This refers to the South Asian region, where both India and Pakistan also seem headed towards a dangerous escalation of hostilities. As a result, both countries would do well to consider the lessons emanating from the above-mentioned Saudi experience. For instance, like Saudi Arabia, India has also been on a military spending spree over the last decade, importing some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems from across the world. Its massive economic growth has given it license to pursue a robust military modernization program that is keenly focused on enhancing its power projection capabilities. However, again like Saudi Arabia, India’s military also remains untested and risks being termed another ‘glitter force’ that is more concerned with procuring arms as a matter of prestige as opposed to operational efficacy. This for instance was clear during India’s aerial engagement with Pakistani Air Force jets in March, during which a sophisticated Israeli origin missile fired by India’s air defenses downed one of India’s own Russian made Mi-17 helicopters. Such lack of operational readiness and blind faith in untested systems is evident in both the Saudi and Indian experience highlighted above.

Specifically, regarding the US made Patriot batteries used by the Saudis and the Israeli made Spyder missiles used by India, the above incidents have shown that the efficacy and reliability of these systems in the real-time conflicts of today is quite patchy at best. If anything, any form of over-reliance on these systems runs the risk of a grave miscalculation which in effect is multiplied by the regional complexities of both their respective security environments. These miscalculations are already on display in the increasingly volatile Middle East, as the Western backed and Saudi led military alliance is just realizing. With the vulnerability of such missile defense systems now increasingly evident, there has also arguably been an element of deterrence that has been further reinforced. Consequently, the path to de-escalation appears a lot more rational than one which may escalate towards all-out war. The case of South Asia too was similar where the aerial engagement between nuclear weapons capable India and Pakistan, also ultimately reinforced the latter’s conventional deterrent while exposing gaps in the former’s much touted aerial defenses.

Yet, considering that the case of South Asia remains infinitely more precarious due to the presence of two adversarial nuclear weapons states, the above described developments pose additional yet considerably more important implications when applied to the region’s nuclear deterrence framework. In effect, they erode the belief that ballistic missile defense systems can serve as the backbone to what many a state would consider a winnable nuclear war. These primarily comprise of Nuclear Weapons States such as the US and India which in the recent past have increasingly relied on concepts such as counterforce, pre-emption and precision as key themes within their official military thinking. All under the premise that Missile defense shields offer a reliable and credible defense against an adversary’s pre-emptive or secondary nuclear strikes as part of their strategic calculus. India’s much vaunted purchase of the Russian made S-400 system presents a clear example of such a strategy.

In contrast however, the fallibility and faltering reliability of such air defence systems shows the immense dangers of adopting such an approach within scenarios that have the potential of irreversibly altering life on earth as we know it. Considering how peace and stability in the South Asian region is precariously balanced between Pakistan and India’s nuclear deterrence framework, the unreliability and increasing fallibility of missile defense systems thus warrant a serious re-evaluation of the strategic calculus of both nuclear weapons capable India and Pakistan.  

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Protracted Asymmetric Geopolitical Conflict

Dayan Jayatilleka

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Each of us has his own definition of “geo-history”, and mine is the interface of the “geopolitical” and the “world-historical.”

We are marked by two anniversaries, that of the start of WW II in 1939 and its end in 1945. Fascism was a unique regime of terror, with a strategy of unbridled ‘exterminism’ and therefore constituted a unique political evil in world history. However, outside of its type of regime, strategy and tactics, was its ‘grand strategic’ goal also unique or was it not? Is there a resemblance or homology between, on the one hand, the doctrine of Ein Reich, the telos of world domination, a Thousand Year Reich, and the military moves of Germany and its Axis partners in the run-up to WWII, and on the other, that of a unipolar world order and global military expansionism; of open-ended unipolar global leadership? Is there a continuity or homology between on the one hand, the wartime US Grand Area planning for the postwar world (the documents of which were unearthed by Noam Chomsky), and the present Indo-Pacific strategy and on the other hand, the notorious earlier search for Lebensraum? Is the Indo-Pacific strategy an insistence on “maritime Lebensraum”?

If the answer is yes, and the two paradigms can be superimposed upon each other, then history provides only one answer: the united front and its extension, a global grand alliance. But a united front and grand alliance with whom, to what end?

Politics is combat. International politics is international combat. By the “suicide” of the Soviet Union (that post-mortem verdict was Fidel Castro’s), the Empire was unbound and it is now threatening world peace and the future of humanity itself. Every single arms control agreement (bar one) has been unilaterally renounced, but before that came the rollback of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements with the destruction of former Yugoslavia and the expansion of NATO. Now the empire seeks to dominate the entire global theatre in all possible spheres. This should not come as a shock or surprise. It is almost a law of physics (perhaps it should be called ‘geophysics’) that once unwisely unbound, the Empire would uncoil, spread, expand, and seek to dominate—in short, that the Empire would seek to behave as an empire.

The geohistorical question facing humanity today is how to constrain the Empire, but not return to the old delusions of how to do so. The Empire must be initially counterbalanced and then constrained– bound– permanently, until, as in the case of the Roman Empire, there is a benign change of beliefs (in this case, political) from within its own society, its own citizenry and not as before, a change in its external posture which proves in the long geo-historical term, to have been merely ephemeral, conjunctural, even tactical.

The Empire’s strategy as concerns Russia is quite simple to understand. It is a re-run of the strategy that enabled them to prevail in the Cold War. It is to provoke Russia into an arms race and exceed prudent spending limits, cause economic hardship and generate enough discontent that the citizenry, especially the young, will agitate, thereby causing psychological exhaustion and catalyzing peaceful democratic “regime change”, bringing into office a capitulationist/collaborationist administration sooner or later, in the wake of the end of President Putin’s term. Meanwhile, what is being played out in Hong Kong foreshadows the geohistorical endgame envisaged by the Empire for China and Eurasia as a whole.

By its global offensive, imperialism has potentially overstretched itself morally, ethically and politically. Not since Vietnam has imperialism had a potential target profile which is so large and so exposed. The targeting of Iran when that country has not violated the JCPOA can be turned into a massive indictment on the twin grounds of reason and logic as well as of natural justice. Similarly, the targeting of Venezuela can be exposed for the absurdity that someone who did not even run for Presidential office should be recognized as the legitimate President of a country. So also, the unilateral withdrawal from arms control agreements can be exposed for the danger this poses to humanity.

One of the most important principles of asymmetric political resistance is the identification of the most important strategic real estate as the moral high ground. The moral or moral-ethical high ground is the seizure and occupation of that terrain of argument which is recognized and recognizable as more rational, reasonable and of broader benefit to humanity, assuring “the greatest good of the greatest number” according to universal values and norms and not merely national or regional values and norms.

The main axial routes and themes of the political struggle should be Peace and Sovereignty. Firstly, these are themes that have a universal or near-universal resonance. Secondly, they allow the critic to fight for and occupy the moral high ground because the West has only a toehold on the moral high ground in all these cases. Thirdly, they are also the main achievements of humanity that are threatened by the Western offensive. Fourthly, they are themes that are likely to have resonance among peoples the world over, albeit with greater or lesser emphasis in different areas of the globe.

This great struggle cannot be waged with the guiding ideology solely of or governed solely by “State Interest” or “National Interest.” It can only be waged by the recovery of the spirit of “internationalism” that was present in the entire Soviet period. It is little appreciated that Stalin, the father of ‘Socialism in One Country,’ and political leader of the Great Patriotic War waged an international campaign against fascism. Even in periods of isolation and siege, Stalin’s perspectival approach was never one of a cultural or civilizational preoccupation. The struggle for Peace and Sovereignty, Against Interventionism and Global War, requires the building of global opinion and a global movement.

A contemporary Realist would immediately grasp the opportunity which has opened up in post-Cold War history, namely of compensating at least partially for the loss of those territories and Russia’s Western buffer, the rollback of Yalta and Potsdam and the USSR’s wartime gains and the advance of the NATO borders up to Russia, by the geostrategic gains on the Eastern front through the renewal of partnership with China. Obviously, this has been recognized and acted upon but it has yet to be optimized by the kind of diverse yet solid strategic relationships that the USA has through NATO in the West, and Japan and many other states in other parts of the world. A Realist would recommend a re-visiting, retrieval and revision of Article 1 of the 30 Treaty signed by Stalin and Mao, which recognizes that the security of Russia and China are indivisible and that any aggression against one will be regarded as aggression against the other and responded to accordingly.

There is a contradiction between the Western project of the encirclement of Russia and the intellectual response to that encirclement. One of the reasons for that contradiction is the fact that academies and think tanks have been shaped and formed by and sometimes in the decades of ‘peaceful coexistence’ and later ‘détente’ with the West and are almost structurally unprepared for the change in the global geopolitical-geostrategic ‘ecology’ as it were. These institutions were formed or reshaped by party edict as adjuncts of the tasks of negotiation with the West and the competition (which became enmity for a period) with China. They are structurally oriented towards the West; their institutional faces are turned westwards. Their entire spirit and ethos are those of partnership with the West and suspicion of China stemming from the 1960s and 1970s.

Institutions need to reflect the tasks of the new times, those of facing the West as an adversary in a protracted Cold War encompassing a global hybrid war; facing encirclement by the West and the global offensive of the West. Perhaps new joint analytical and academic institutions should evolve as intellectual-scientific superstructures of the SCO, BRICS, the Astana process and most importantly the partnership with China. A Russo-Sino joint think-tank or ensemble of think-tanks of Advanced Studies, as an intellectual microcosm or advanced prototype of a strategic alliance (not merely a strategic partnership) seems an imperative need.

The threat to Russia is nothing less than deeply, profoundly existential. If Iran is disaggregated by military action two things will result simultaneously. In a small scale equivalent of the collapse of the USSR and the dawning of the unipolar moment after the Cold War ended, there will be a dramatic shift of the balance of forces within the global Islamic community or ummah, to the Wahhabi/Salafists, just as in return to pre-1979, Western power is projected right back into an arena dangerously proximate to Russia’s ‘soft underbelly’ as the western analysts have always seen it. The intermediate ‘buffer state’ may not always remain so. Any deep damaging of Iran will also have global grand strategic implications of tightening the encirclement of Eurasia and weakening China.

Iran’s capacity for deterrence and if deterrence fails, its capacity for prolonged resistance and the same of Venezuela, will decide the level of resistance far away from Russia’s frontlines. If Afghanistan ended the USSR by bleeding it white, then the most effective Western policy in that theatre was to equip the so-called mujahidin with shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles to neutralize Soviet air power. If the USSR had not been so enmeshed in détente as to hold back the SAM-6s from and provide only a minimum supply of SAM-7s to the Vietnamese, then the damage inflicted on the US may have been such that it could not have gone on the offensive in Afghanistan a mere three years after the withdrawal from Saigon. While the US had no compunction in providing shoulder-fired to the Afghan mujahidin, with whom they had nothing in common ideologically, knowing full well that they would cause Soviet casualties especially among pilots, the USSR did have compunctions in providing SAM-6 batteries and a far more generous quantity of SAM-7s to the Vietnamese who were ideological comrades. The Vietnamese used to wryly remark to those of us in the Vietnam solidarity movement in Asia, that had the USSR provided them with the quantity and quality of air defense missiles that it gave the Arab states in the same period, the early 1970s, the Vietnamese would certainly have used them more effectively and with less losses than did the Arab armies.

That is perhaps the best single piece of explanatory evidence as to why the US recovered so fast from the Vietnam defeat while the USSR unilaterally withdrew from the Cold War and collapsed. It was a matter of will, and the consistent clarity of the US that the USSR was the enemy, and the determination to prevail over it. Later, the successor state of the USSR, the Russian state, with the Russian armed forces as its core, was seen as the enemy—even when the Russian administration and leadership may have been seen as a useful quasi-ally, partner and even ‘friend.’ Thus, on the questions of Iran and Venezuela, a contemporary Russian ‘dialectical and historical Realist’ analysis would consider a ‘reverse Brzezinski.’

China appears caught in a contradiction within an irony. The contradiction is that having entered the world capitalist order dominated by the West and become a major player within it, it now finds itself vulnerable to both economic and military threats simply because it proved to be strong enough to be an economic competitor but not strong enough to prevent, deter or prevail over a military build-up triggered by the inherently hierarchical and hegemonistic character of the system it had bought into. The irony is that China had found itself caught in a contradiction because it had forgotten Mao’s theory of contradictions which draws a fundamental distinction between antagonistic and non-antagonistic contradictions. China regarded the competition between itself and the West as a purely economic and therefore non-antagonistic contradiction, but the world system being not only an economic system but one of power, China’s peaceful rise was perceived by the West not as a ‘friendly’ or non-antagonistic contradiction but precisely as an antagonistic one, to be responded to not merely by economic means but also by military means, namely the biggest build-up of an armada in recent history through the Indo-Pacific strategy.

The irony is a dual one, because it was China that first cautioned the USSR about the idealistic and utopian nature of the project of “peaceful economic competition” with the West, but later pursued it with greater zeal and success than the USSR ever did or could. In the 1960s and 1970s, China had established a methodology of identifying the contradictions in the world at any given period and went on to hierarchize those contradictions. The listing would naturally shift over time and became irrationally anti-Soviet at one point; an irrationality that lasted a long period. However, the methodology of discerning, identifying and ranking contradictions was a realistic one, because it alerted China or anyone who used the dialectical framework, to the reality of antagonism, of hostility, in the world arena.

If the world’s foremost military power which disposes of the greatest destructive force known by history, regards one or more countries as adversaries, indeed as The Other(s), and backs up this policy perspective with the actual offensive disposition and concentration of men and material over time, then basic survival instinct should dictate that the states designated and treated as adversaries should seek to combine their military and non-military strengths to countervail and deter such a power which regards them with hostility and as threats. There are several such countries but only two such great powers, and these are Russia and China, in whichever order. Those who opine that Russia can slip out of this siege by living down a perception of a special relationship with China and associating as closely or even more closely with other great or big powers, seem to forget that Western moves against Russia’s interests preceded its renewed hostility to China.

The bottom line is that in any objective, dialectical and historical Realist analysis of Russia’s core interests, no relationship with Europe can be a substitute or even on par with a partnership with China. Not all vectors are equal, and some are certainly more equal than others.

Since neither Russia nor China can countervail the US-led Western alliance on its own, a closer equation is needed between the two than between either Russia or China and any other big power or powers. No other big power, however friendly, is the target of unremitting and adversarial Western action, and therefore will not take the same risks for either Russia or China as each of them should logically do for each other, since they both stand threatened and targeted. A Concert of Big Powers cannot be a substitute for a defensive United Front or coalition of states, of which the Russia-China relationship will be the main alliance, consisting of those sovereign states actively threatened in a military-economic sense by the West.

These are the strictly personal views of the author.

From our partner RIAC

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