Are we on the brink of a new Cold War? The question isn’t as outlandish as it seemed only a few years ago. The United States is still the sole reigning superpower, but it is being challenged by the rising power of China, just as ancient Rome was challenged by Carthage, and Britain was challenged by Germany in the years before World War I. Should we therefore think of the United States and China as we once did about the United States and the Soviet Union, two gladiators doomed to an increasingly globalized combat until one side fades?
Tag Archives: Foreign Policy
In other words, New START provided Moscow an incentive to go up, not down, in strategic nuclear arms. As for the United States, New START will reduce the number of deployed delivery vehicles by about one-fourth. Given these facts, it is perhaps understandable why the new secretary of state chose to say nothing about nuclear reductions, which was, after all, the treaty’s ostensible objective. The one-sided nature of the actual reductions certainly looks more like unilateral disarmament than mutual, bilateral reductions.
Can Israel get away with its attacks on the Syrian regime?
Israel’s recent attacks against Syria are the latest, dramatic development in a conflict that is already spiraling out of control. In the past few days, Israeli aircraft reportedly targeted Iranian surface-to-surface missiles headed for Hezbollah, as well as Syrian missiles in a military base in the outskirts of Damascus. Israel’s strikes show, once again, its intelligence services’ ability to penetrate the Iran’s arms shipment route to Lebanon and its military’s skill in striking adversaries with seeming impunity. But Israel is also risking retaliation and further destabilization of its own neighborhood — in ways that may come back to haunt it.
But Lavrov, a diplomat since the Brezhnev era who has spent a lifetime haggling, blustering, scheming, and speechifying on behalf of the battered Russian state (“his religion,” one top U.S. official told me), chose to go in a different direction, right back in history to Alexander Gorchakov. He cited the princely foreign minister as an example of the blunt style in Russian politics, as a reason for why Russia has absolutely no intention of following America’s lead in the Arab world — or, by extension, anywhere else. Gorchakov, Lavrov proudly noted, had managed “the restoration of the Russian influence in Europe after the defeat in the Crimean War, and he did it … without moving a gun. He did it exclusively through diplomacy.”
When Lavrov did get around to the question at hand, of foreign policy in Putin’s Russia, he offered a sharp lecture on how the Kremlin’s boss had managed to make Russia great again after the indignities of the 1990s — and, more to the point, how a great Russia can once again afford to have an “assertive” foreign policy:
On this night, he was in a hurry. He exited his apartment building and walked quickly to his SUV, crossing behind the tailgate to the driver’s side door. He never made it. Instead, a remotely detonated explosive, containing hundreds of deadly, cube-shaped metal shards, ripped his body to shreds, lifting it into the air and depositing his burning torso 15 feet away on the apartment building’s lawn.
Just like that, the most dangerous man you never heard of was dead, his whole career proof that one person really can reshape politics in the Middle East — and far beyond it. “Both bin Laden and Mughniyeh were pathological killers,” 30-year veteran CIA officer Milton Bearden told me. “But there was always a nagging amateurishness about bin Laden — his wildly hyped background, his bogus claims.… Bin Laden cowered and hid. Mughniyeh spent his life giving us the finger.”
China’s ruthless foreign policy is shaping the world in dangerous ways | Full Comment | National Post
Are we witnessing the end of the “American age”? It depends whom you ask. But one thing is certain: Thanks to the near-bankruptcy of the American welfare state, Washington is losing both the means and desire to project power across the world. Inevitably, nations with deeper pockets — China, most notably — will fill the void.
This process already is underway in many parts of the world. That includes large swathes of Central Asia, where Beijing’s billions are beginning to revolutionize regional infrastructure and alliances — in dazzling but potentially dangerous ways.
Analyzing Beijing’s foreign policy is a relatively simple exercise. That’s because, unlike the United States and other Western nations, China doesn’t even pretend to operate on any other principle except naked self-interest.
‘They seem to want to get into a fight’: Asia on guard as China flexes its foreign policy muscles
So does China’s desire to throw its weight around the neighbourhood, make military conflict inevitable? There is certainly genuine concern among China watchers, as the country struggles to find its place in the world. “China reminds me of a teenage 16-year-old boy who has suddenly discovered he is very powerful but has never tested his strength. They seem to want to get into a fight,” said one diplomat.
Fanell, in comments that went largely unnoticed outside the small circle of China military specialists, spelled out in rare detail the reasons the United States is shifting 60 percent of its naval assets — including its most advanced capabilities — to the Pacific. He was blunt: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is focused on war, and it is expanding into the “blue waters” explicitly to counter the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I can tell you, as the fleet intelligence officer, the PLA Navy is going to sea to learn how to do naval warfare,” he said. “My assessment is the PLA Navy has become a very capable fighting force.”
Some were shocked to hear the extent and intensity of China’s carefully orchestrated maritime provocations, especially coming from an officer whose job may make him more of an expert on Beijing’s naval maneuverings than anyone outside China. Others wondered whether the Pacific Fleet was simply playing the Washington game, perhaps lobbying for a greater share of the U.S. military budget or wider authority to act by magnifying the threat.
Russia and China could most forcefully teach a lesson to the United States in the realm of Iran’s nuclear research program, a central U.S. concern. With the region in flux, China and Russia could forgo their traditional opposition to Iranian nuclear proliferation and block U.S.-backed sanctions against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Security Council, or erect obstacles in the P5+1 negotiations. By undermining these diplomatic efforts, Russia and China would prevent Washington from acquiring the international mandate it would need to take military action against Iran if necessary. Arguably, this could no more deter the United States in Iran than did international intransigence slow efforts to move against Iraq in 2003. But times are different. The United States has based its entire campaign against Iran on international solidarity; losing that backing could undercut support among the U.S. public, which remains wary of entering new battles a decade after “Shock and Awe.” And let’s be clear: Iran, China, and Russia have far more strategic, diplomatic, and economic clout to wield against the United States than Iraq did in 2003.
India has also reiterated the need to prevent the escalation of hostilities. But an assessment by the army, intelligence agencies, and the foreign affairs ministry concludes that the incursion was what a source described as “a well-thought out decision cleared at the highest level and not a localised action.”
The Indian military has told the government that China’s army commanders want to use the current crisis to push through a proposal first made by the Chinese Defence Minister, Chang Wanquan, during his visit to India last November. He had said that both countries should notify each other about their patrol plans all along the Line of Actual Control, which India has resisted because it removes the opportunity to take the other side by surprise, if needed.
However, sources say, despite the Army’s reservations on this count, the government may agree to this proposal to end the current crisis.
Strategically, China has made the decision to become aggressive with its foreign policy. Here it is an incursion into Indian territory. There is also the Senkaku Islands conflict with Japan. The conflict with the Philippines. The conflict with Vietnam. The arms build-up threatening Taiwan.
In a way China’s extremely rapid growth over the last 20 years is a sign of a bubble. Now we can see that China is reaching its greatest power, just as there are signs it is cracking underneath. Outwardly it is changing into an aggressive foreign power toward its neighbors. These are signs that the bubble is in danger of bursting. Hold onto your seat. Things are about to get worse.