Authors: Yang Yi-zhong& Hu Yong-heng*
On July 16, Japanese government issued “The White Paper” on national defense. As usual, Japanese government accordingly announced that due to “Uncertainty over the existing order is increasing, and inter-state competition is becoming prominent across the political, economic and military realms,” Japan will do all its efforts to promote a “hybrid warfare” which is a military strategy to blend conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyber-warfare. In addition, hybrid warfare is used to describe attacks by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, improvised explosive devices and information warfare. Obviously, as an already highly-developed country, Japan aims to continue to take a lead in the domains of space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic spectrum. Strategically, Japan also argues that considering emergence of security challenges which cannot be dealt with by a single country alone, Japan will be need to secure stable use of new domains: space and cyberspace; need to ensure security of maritime traffic; response to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs); and response to international terrorism.
Then Japan was not hesitated to argue that China has sustained high-level growth of its defense budget in order to fully transform the people’s armed forces into world-class forces by the mid-21st century. Accordingly, China has consistently and persistently engaged in broad, rapid improvement of its military power in qualitative and quantitative terms with focus on nuclear, missile, naval and air forces. In doing so, Beijing has attached importance to strengthening its operational capabilities in order to steadily acquire information superiority, and also enhanced its capabilities in the domains of space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum. For example, it argues that Beijing’s efforts to bolster these capabilities will definitely reinforce China’s “Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD)” capabilities and lead to the establishment of operational capabilities further afield. According to this analysis, Japan insists that China is striving to develop and acquire cutting-edge technologies that can be used for military purposes, and improve its operationalcapabilities. All these efforts have been guided by the elite’s awareness that “intelligent warfare is on the horizon.” In light of China’s recent efforts aiming to build up capabilities for operations in more distant waters and airspace, including those to project armed forces to waters including the so-called second island chain, beyond the first island chain. China has been continuing activities viewed as training of maritime and air forces making forays into the Pacific and the Sea of Japan, being suspected of intending to regularize these activities. In the South China Sea, China is moving forward with militarization, as well as expanding and intensifying its activities in the maritimeand aerial domains, thereby continuing unilateral attempts tochange the status quo by coercion to create a fait accompli.
Needless to say, considering both geopolitical concept and strategic concerns, Japan has kept a line with the United States since 1951 when the two countries signed the treaty of security and alliance. This is why we should have no doubt that Japan will be encouraged to be a strong or one of the key military powers in East Asia and the world as well.Although some people argue for the reasons why Germany which was also a “defeated” power at the end of the WWII has been so cautious to move towards a military power, but Japanhas been able to advance its defense capabilities beyond the defense of itself at all. By making a long history into a short story, we can say that Japan was the first non-European great power in the contemporary age in terms of military and industrial modernization based on the Western norms. Yet, the first half-part of the 20th century saw Japan’s ambition to challenge the West, including its final war against the U.S. and Britain in order to dominate the entire East Asia and beyond. Yet, after the tremendous cost and sufferings during the WWII, Japan’s postwar posture was frequently seen as a new pacifism; in fact it was considerably more complex. As Henry Kissinger argued, the postwar policy pursued by Tokyo has reflected an obvious fact that the governing elite in Japan has accepted the constitution drafted by American occupation authorities—with its stringent prohibitions on military action, acquiesced in American predominance and assessment of the strategic landscape and then to decide or co-decide the imperatives of Japan’s security needs and long-term national goal. As a result, Japan has closely followed the lead of the United States. In terms of national security, Japan has invited American forces to deploy in its territory in substantial numbers, and thus defense commitment were solidified into a mutual security treaty, deterring potentially hostile powers including Russia, North Korea and China particularly.
Since the rise of China has been seen as the dramatic changes in the balance of power in East Asia, the strong national leadership under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has given Tokyo new latitude to act on its assessment. As early as 2013, Japanese government white paper concluded that “as Japan’s security environment becomes even more severe … it has become indispensable for Japan to make more proactive efforts in line with the principle of international cooperation, such as strengthening Japan’s capacity to deter and, if needed, defeat threats. Surveying a changing Asian landscape, Tokyo increasingly articulates a desire to become a “normal country” with a military not constitutionally barred from a war and an active alliance policy. Consider this, Japan is supported and even connived by the United States to rearm itself to meet the so-called challenge in terms of the rise of China. This has been the guideline of Japanese foreign/security policy: continued emphasis on the American alliance; adaptation to China’s assertive policy and reliance on an increasingly national foreign policy. As former U.S. deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter observed, there would be two new strong military powers rather than only one in East Asiathat is China and Japan are equally powerful in the next decades.
Accordingly, a new arm race between China and Japan will be inevitable. In world politics, arms race is termed as intense competition between states in the acquisition of more or superior weaponry in an anarchic world system. At first, arms race appear to take that psychological reaction into account. Then the states proceed by assuming that their own armaments would gain them respect rather than arouse suspicions about their assertive policy and moves. In light of history, a new arms race between the two tigers in East Asiais normal even though it is by no means leading to a total war. Yet geopolitically a Cold Peace between China and Japan is sure to surge on the horizon regionally and then globally. As the United States has badly accused China’s claims as “completely unlawful, including it’s seeking to create a “maritime empire” and a “bullying campaign” in Southeast Asia, Japan is sure to stand by its ally. As the White Paper of 2020 defined three key pillars of national security as follows: Japan’s own architecture for national defense forces; the Japan-U.S. Alliance; and international security cooperation.
It is self-evident that Japan will take all efforts to strengthen capabilities necessary for cross-domain operations, to advance capabilities in the new domains of space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum, and meanwhile to promote capabilities in the traditional domains, such as capabilities in maritime and air domains, stand-off defense capability, comprehensiveair and missile defense capability, and maneuver and deployment capability. Be aware of the vital role of high-technologies in the military operations, Japan openly argues for strengthening core elements of defense capability by reinforcing the human resource base, technology base, and defense industrial base. All these efforts have been fully or partially supported by the United States since it has rapidly and openly recognized strategic competition with revisionist powers, namely China and Russia, as the central challenge to U.S. security.Especially, the United States and Japan rank China at the top of its list of priorities and places the greatest emphasis on the security of the Indo-Pacificregion to strengthen deterrence against China. This is exactly welcome by Japan.
In sum, China is a rising power in a strong position, but meanwhile it is also a developing country. Due to this, China has no will or even capacity to replace the United States and its allies’ core interests. Meanwhile, considering that China has not accomplished its national rejuvenation as a great power, Beijing is sure to increase its military capabilities by all means. In this sense, China is a more status quo power than a revisionist power simply because Japan is more ambitious to be regarded as a “normal” power. As a result, China and Japan have to compete with each other in much broader terms. The question arises that if the ruling elite in Beijing and Tokyo can learn the vital lessons from the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. After all, it is the key for China and Japan to be aware of the nature of the Cold War: the confrontation without hot war. Given this, it is hopeful that a new arms race between Beijing and Tokyo should be turned into a cold peace.
*Hu Yonghengis a correspondent majored in Diplomacy at SIPA, Jilin University
The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities
The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.
Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.
Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.
While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.
The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.
The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.
Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.
Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved
According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world. Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721, 2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.
Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.
Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.
The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.
Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.
Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.
During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.
Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world.
However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.
Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.
Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?
A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.
According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.
“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.
The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.
In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.
Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.
While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.
By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.
In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.
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