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: superpower
China’s President Xi Jinping and France’s President Francois Hollande pledged to push for a world free of domination by any superpower Thursday as the French leader visited the Chinese capital in hopes of boosting trade amid his country’s worsening economic woes.
Both leaders stressed their desire for a “multipolar” world that would dilute Washington’s influence — though they did not mention the U.S. in their comments.
The problem with a multipolar world is that historically it has led to wars.
The World Is Marching Toward Anarchy – Robert Kaplan
The fact is that domination of one sort or another, tyrannical or not, has a better chance of preventing the outbreak of war than a system in which no one is really in charge; where no one is the top dog, so to speak. That is why Columbia University’s Kenneth Waltz, arguably America’s pre-eminent realist, says that the opposite of “anarchy” is not stability, but “hierarchy.”
On Valentine’s Day, the Russian newspaper Vedemosti wrote a tough-love letter to the people of Russia. It pointed out that one-fifth of the Russian urban population has no hot water in its homes, and that one third of the population, nearly 50 million people, have inadequate hot water supply. More than 20 million Russians have inadequate heat, and over 13% rely solely upon their stoves for heating (a massive fire hazard, one reason Russia has one of highest fire fatality rates in the world).
These facts are reflective of Russia’s continuing backwardness compared to the Western nations with which it would compete. Russia ranks #130 in the world for life expectancy of its citizens, right behind Bangladesh and Philippines. It ranks #53 in the world for per capita nominal GDP, behind Uruguay and Equatorial Guinea.
So why is this backwards, impoverished nation declaring war on the United States, the world’s only superpower? The evidence shows conclusively that is exactly what is happening.
Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in latakia, and the port facilities at Tardus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.
When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.
And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.
Ironically, the high-profile dig made headlines just as France’s president, François Hollande, was winning praise for launching gutsy military campaigns in Somalia and Mali this winter. A recent Newsweek piece even hailed Hollande for putting France back on the map as a “manly superpower.” But back at home, it’s increasingly clear that stifling union rules, high unemployment (and higher taxes), and a baffling lack of entrepreneurial spirit signal a country in crisis. And the deepening sense of dread can be traced directly to the educational system.
“It’s a culture of nul,” says Peter Gumbel, whose bestseller On Achève Bien les Écoliers (They Shoot School Kids, Don’t They?) criticized the French school system for creating a generation of bureaucrats who refuse to think out of the box. Nul, or “worthless,” is a familiar word to the French—it’s often tossed at schoolchildren who do not get their lessons right.
However, policy specific to China is not mentioned in the text of the strategy.
“This strategy is not focused on any one country nor is it focused on cybersecurity exclusively, though cyber does play an important role in the strategy,” said a White House official.
U.S. officials said the strategy deliberately played down the major role played by China in order to avoid upsetting relations with Beijing.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the report for lacking substance.
“Repeating its strategic mistake of treating international terrorism as primarily a matter of law-enforcement, the Obama administration sees cyberspace the same way conceptually,” Bolton told the Free Beacon.
Why don’t US officials want to upset Beijing? Notice that Beijing isn’t worried about upsetting the US. Why not?
Here we have the US terrified of upsetting Beijing. Beijing acts with impunity. Who is the superpower here? Has the student become the master? I think the US is in big trouble.
The attacks were routed through US universities in an attempt to hide their origin, but investigations by a cyber security firm employed by NYT to track the hacking led them to China. Expectedly, Beijing rubbished the charges, saying it is “totally irresponsible” to accuse China of participating in the online attacks without proof. But Washington thinks there is enough evidence and has said it will take it up with Beijing.
US analysts believe the Chinese attacks are state-sponsored if not state-led. For one, the forays were mainly aimed at newspapers that were investigating corruption in the Chinese leadership, particularly at journalists covering the political and economic beat in China.
The attackers also kept government timings — typically clocking in at 8 am Beijing time and winding up at 5 pm, although on occasions they continued till midnight.
Why does China feel it can do this? Why isn’t China afraid? Why hasn’t the US been aggressively responding to these types of attacks?
Isn’t this really just a sign of greater things to come?
Here we have a weakened superpower that is decline. It hasn’t been responding appropriately to China for decades. This has now emboldened China to the point where it attacks, undermines or intimidates the US and its allies. It seems to have little fear of the US. All of this can only bring greater danger in the future.
“A decade of war is now ending,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared Monday. Maybe that’s true in America, but it isn’t true anywhere else. Extremists are still plotting acts of terror. Authoritarian and autocratic regimes are still using violence to preserve their power. The United States can step back from international conflicts, but that won’t make them disappear.
Fortunately, there is another power that shares America’s economic and political values, that possesses sophisticated military technology and is also very interested in stopping the progress of fanatical movements, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. That power is Europe.
The nation’s behavior as a modern superpower is reminiscent of its imperial past.
China’s more assertive foreign policy over the last two years has played a key role in getting two arch-conservatives — Japan’s Shinzo Abe and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye — elected to lead their respective countries. Some Chinese observers believe that Abe and Park will be forced by China’s inexorable rise to come to terms with their giant neighbor. Don’t count on it. To much of its region, China’s behavior as it is coming of age as a modern superpower is eerily reminiscent of its past policy as a regional hegemon.
For a very long time, imperial China dominated its wider region. The Chinese imperial court considered itself the indispensable center of a regional order in which China had the right and the duty to set international norms and standards, and to intervene if these were broken. It was an ideological system in which Chinese principles had to be the starting point for all things.