By Dr. Sawraj Singh
It is becoming clear that America and the NATO have suffered defeats in Europe and Middle East. As the dust settles in Ukraine and Syria, we can clearly see who won and who lost. Russia has emerged as a clear winner in both countries. For all practical purposes, America has conceded defeat in these two regions. It has been the American policy since the dawn of the twentieth century that Europe is the most important area for it. Europe is the birthplace of capitalism and is still the most developed continent of the world. In the middle of the twentieth century, after the Second World War, with the growing importance of oil, which can be called the lifeline of the capitalist economy, the Middle East also became a very important area for America and the West. Israel became the closest and most trusted American ally in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf countries also became very important allies. It will be no exaggeration to say that Europe and the Middle East became the two central points in America’s foreign policy.
The wars in Ukraine and Syria were started under the influence of such policy. However, in both cases, Russia’s military capabilities were grossly underestimated. America and the NATO are shocked by the Russian military power and capability. However, it is not just the Russian military victories which have jolted America and the NATO, Russia has been able to draw a big wedge between America and Europe. Nationalists in Europe have experienced a big change in their perceptions and feelings toward Russia. Russia is becoming more of a hero who is a bulwark and a savior of European civilization and morality, while America is perceived as the biggest threat to both. America is more and more perceived as a country which has betrayed Europe, while Russia is seen more and more as a country trying hard to save Europe from extinction of its civilization and morality. America has suffered double defeats in Europe, whereas Russia is scoring a military and moral victory.
America seems to be fundamentally changing its strategy. It feels that Russia is winning because of support from China. China is providing Russia a degree of economic stability which enables Russia to project its military power. The Soviet Union was militarily very strong. However, because of economic weakness, it could not take any advantage of its military superiority. America seems to feel that it has better odds in containing China in Asia than containing growing Russian influence in Europe and the Middle East.
America thinks that it can have a quadrilateral alliance of America, Japan, India, and Australia to contain China. Because of the South China Sea island conflict, America feels that Vietnam, Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries can be lined up against China. This is the main reason that America is deliberately provoking China by challenging its sovereignty in the South China Sea islands. America wants to isolate China by raising the issue of freedom of navigation and keeping the sea lanes open. So far, America seems to be succeeding in isolating China on this issue and containing China. The Indian media is broadly supportive of the American stand on this issue. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has also been started by America primarily as a rival to China’s economic strength.
However, America may be underestimating China in Asia as it has underestimated Russia in Europe and the Middle East. China has made significant gains in South Asia. It has strengthened its traditional ally Pakistan by helping to break the ice between Pakistan and Russia. Russia is willing to provide Pakistan with sophisticated weapons, a scenario which was unimaginable before. China has significantly improved its relations with Nepal. China has also strengthened its relations with Iran. Historically, Iran has always had close relations with South Asia. China also has a wildcard, North Korea, up its sleeve.
India should be extremely cautious in getting caught in the rivalry between America and China because, in the final analysis, it may end up doing the actual fighting against China. At least it may have to bear the brunt of the fighting. America will keep provoking China but is unlikely to engage in a direct military confrontation. Japan and Australia are also very unlikely to engage in a direct military confrontation with China. The same can be said of Vietnam and Philippines. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about India. A direct military confrontation between China and India cannot be completely ruled out. Similarly, a direct military confrontation between India and Pakistan can also not be completely ruled out. China and other countries can be drawn into this conflict. India should do everything possible to avoid a direct military confrontation with China or Pakistan and prevent the Indian subcontinent from becoming the arena for the Third World War. Similarly, all Asian countries should try very hard to prevent Asia from becoming such an arena.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].