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Human Security amid Thucydides Trap in a Post Covid-19 World



The primary concern for the states is security; some would say military security before the human security. Hans Morgenthau, the notable classical realist scholar of 20th century was of the opinion that states are either in a state of war, recovering from the effects of war or preparing to fight new wars. When it comes to states that have the capability to shape the future of the world, matters of high politics become very meaningful. The relation between the states having hegemonic intentions are the drivers of the world order. The World Order changes with a whimper rather than a bang. And the Balance of Power has already been shifting; with China as the rising power threatening the unipolarity of The United States of America.

Going back into the history of ancient Greece, the military general and historian Thucydides gave very interesting (and first of its kind) explanation for wars. He deduced from the thirty years Peloponnesian wars that whenever there is an established hegemon in the region and another power is rising up to challenge the hegemony of the former, a conflict between both is inevitable. Sparta was an established hegemon of the region at that time and had a very strong military force on land. Athens had a strong navy and its power was perceived as a threat by Spartans. Hence, they both indulged in a bloody war lasting for nearly three decades.

A plague came at the beginning of war and it devastated Athenians. One-Fourth of them lost their lives to the epidemic. It caused many problems in Athens. The economy collapsed, laws became strict and the entry of Non-Athenians was prohibited into the city and many social disruptions also took place. When Athens and Sparta indulged in a series of wars, the power of both of the Greek cities weakened as a result of their rivalry. It made a power vacuum and eventually the Macedonian invaders from the North overpowered both of them. In the present times, this invader may be a pandemic that does not see the military power nor the economic might. The only thing that can stand against the pandemic is the willingness and effort by individuals, states and the international structure to combat it. Is the world (and especially the two mighty states) capable to beat a likely pandemic in future that may even be monstrous than the corona virus under the same structure of the system? If no, what changes will this pandemic bring up in the Homo Sapiens?

Clearly, the first answer to clear the world from coronavirus will be a global vaccination drive. But that will need a lot of time; at least a year. And even after vaccination, the risk of another global crisis is always there. Vaccination is not the abracadabra to prevent the outbreak of future viruses. It will only fix the present one. In conditions when the world is not on one page and the populist leaders have choices beyond human security, there is minimal hope to make effective policies and value health institutions globally.

Another option, and that is favorite for the President of United States Donald Trump, is to curtail the immigration as immigrants can be a source of spreading viruses. Globalization may face a serious threat. Corona virus can be the death knell to Post-Modernism. Liberal trade is already at a low under protectionist policies. Francis Fukuyama’s End of History is not coming, rather a new history is yet to begin. China, with an authoritarian regime, has been successful at managing to deal with the challenge posed by corona virus better than the capitalist liberal developed world despite having a huge population. China has been influenced by Confucianism for centuries and the public generally respects the authority. An authoritarian regime may prove to work better in times of crisis. Democracies may compromise on their values in coming days and the individuals’ privacy may take a back seat. As a result, surveillance may also increase. Some may say it will be necessary in order to achieve a greater good – human security.

Pandemics in a globalized world cannot be handled unless all the stakeholders unite. The threat posed by pandemics must make the world review the priorities. Big power rivalry must come to a halt in order to escape the Thucydides Trap if they have to maintain their powers. Corona virus is going to change the world. Lethal pandemics can collapse the healthcare systems within days as well as economies and subsequently other institutions worldwide. Collaboration by all and especially between US and China can help make the world capable of containing contagious diseases. If they still do not refrain from a zero-sum game, the outcomes may be disastrous for all as the third enemy will be waiting in the queue.

But, will a world split in two camps, one led by USA and another by China in the new hegemonic cold war, be able to fight this third enemy that will not differentiate between anyone before attacking? A Thucydides trap will make way for a global crisis as it will diverge the world towards military security rather than human security. Graham Allison – a leading American political scientist writes about the last 500 years, “in 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.” He predicts that it will revive again between USA and China. Henry Kissinger and John Mearsheimer also endorse that USA and China will fall into Thucydides Trap as the unipolar hegemony of United States is in danger with the rise of China. A Thucydides Trap is almost always a result of a lose-lose confrontation that can be escaped by a win-win cooperation; provided that sanity prevails. If the two big powers come out of a prisoner’s dilemma, a zero-sum game can be avoided at a global level and the priorities can be fixed by shifting the scope from military security to human security.

The author belongs to Pakistan and writes on international relations and sociopolitical issues. Twitter: @AbdulBasit0419

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India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture



In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces



The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS



Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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