US Weak Position for the New Cold War
Although United States is the homeland of hundreds of leading think-tanks and strategic institutes, yet due to his faulty strategy, its President Barack Obama failed in waging the war of nerves, which also includes the elements of ‘hot war’ at present.
In this regard, recent developments such as Russian airstrikes on the ISIL (Daesh) targets by boosting its military presence in northern Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, the Defense Department’s announcement to abandon the goal of training the Syrian rebels—failure of estimated 10,000 CIA-supported rebels to topple his government, Russian President Putin’s coalition with Iran, Iraq and Syria to root out the ISIL militants, his warning to the Israeli Netanyahu regarding Israel’s violations of Syrian sovereignty, indicating the Zionist regime in the US and Israel for their “phony war on ISIL”, and saying, “NWO (New World Order) agents and Satan worshipers simply have no clothes”, while, all the current state of play in Syria has been described by the analysts as “the most spectacular US foreign policy debacle.”
Moreover, on the one side, Obama continued US war on terror, especially by fighting Al-Qaeda militants on global and regional level, while on the other; he assisted the Al-Qaeda Jihadists in case of Syria. Similarly, on the one hand, his administration backed ISIL by CIA, while, on the other, he ordered to conduct aerial campaign on their targets in Iraq.
President Obama’s contradictory approach which has resulted into failure of America’s external policy in the Middle East has been meeting the same fate in South Asia. In this respect, it is notable that on September 25, 2008, Obama, while accusing President Bush’s policies in the region, offered it as part of his policy to encourage India and Pakistan to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and resolve the Kashmir problem to reduce nuclear dangers in South Asia and militancy in the region.
Quite contrary to his commitments, during his first visit to New Delhi, on November 6, 2010 President Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council including membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes. US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including other modern aircraft and weapons.
In fact, US still backs Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance China. During American President Obama’s second visit to India, on January 25, 2015, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008 in order to make India a great power of Asia. This duplicity has initiated a dangerous arms race between Pakistan and India, and between China and India.
By manipulating American conflicting policy in South Asia, India is destabilizing the regional countries in general and Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular. In order to obtain its secret designs, aimed at augmenting Indian dominance in the region, India is foiling the peace process between Afghanistan and Pakistan by managing terrorist attacks like the recent ones in Afghanistan which revived old blame game against Islamabad. India is also thwarting the peace process between the Afghan officials and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, which started in Murree, Pakistan, on July 8, 2015 through a meeting, hosted by Islamabad, and in it, Chinese and American representatives, also participated.
In this connection, highlighting inter-related regional problems, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif said on September 29, 2015 (Pakistan’s successful war against terrorism), “Practical steps are required to manage Pak-Afghan borders for gainful conclusion of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb—Afghan instability had telling effects on the region”. He stressed on all stake holders to revive reconciliation process, despite hurdles, and elaborated, “A peaceful Afghanistan can open regional connectivity—China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) benefits can be shared—is essential for socio-economic development of the whole region”.
However, Pak-Afghan stability in context of regional security is not only important for Asian countries, but also for the US and other western countries. But, President Obama has been acting upon an ambivalent policy in South Asia.
As regards the Islamic World, Obama had stated in his first address, “To the Muslim World, we seek a new way forward, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.” In this respect, Muslim experts had opined that President Obama would rectify the blunders, committed by his predecessor in the name of war on terror, and he would resolve the Palestinian-Israeli dispute and issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Instead of applying pragmatic approach, Obama-led US Administration continued indirect support to the Israeli atrocities on the Palestinians, while showing silence over the brutal tactics, adopted by the Indian security forces in the Indian-held Kashmir. This ambivalent strategy resulted into more recruitment of Jihadists, and it became difficult for the pro-American rulers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other volatile Islamic countries to cope with the problem of militancy.
And learning no lesson from the flawed policies of Bush, Obama continued state terrorism and extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons through illegitimate drone attacks—assisting undemocratic forces, the return of a military strongman in Egypt by toppling the elected government, like Iraq, creation of more collapsed states such as Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. which opened the door for Al-Qaeda and ISIL activists. In these terms, after 14 years of the protracted war, a perennial wave of attacks on the US and NATO installations and ambush assaults on their military personnel by the Taliban in Afghanistan, terror-attacks on Christians in Nigeria and other African countries including Iraq—sectarian violence and some terror-attacks inside America, France and UK deteriorated the global war on terror. Thus, President Obama caused political and economic instability in the world, jeopardizing the American global interests. His acts also distorted the image of the US which claims to be champion of human rights.
It is due to the pursuance of the policies of Bush era, particularly, culminated into the prolonged war with the Islamic activists that the US bargaining leverage has reduced on the major powers and small countries. North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Turkey have rejected American undue pressure on a number of issues and matters. America’s decision not to attack Syria in 2013 owing to Moscow’s stand, and refusal of France, Germany and UK to support American such an invasion, and Russian control of Crimea might be cited as instance.
Besides, a number of external and internal developments such as huge cost of war on terror, financial crisis, and other-related problems which affected American public, enveloping other western countries—leakage of Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), (An agreement to suppress sovereign democratic rights in favor of multinational corporations), negative effects of globalization, unequal world order and small countries’ demand to reform the UN system, including curtailment of liberties, rise of homegrown terrorism, unresolved gun-policy, failure of the of Obamacare, rift between the Republicans and the Democrats etc. discredited the Obama presidency.
Now, realizing these realities, Americans have started criticizing CIA, FBI, military establishment, and their huge budgets. Question has arisen in America that are people paying taxes to the CIA which is fighting useless proxy wars in the world.
It is mentionable that rapidly developing geo-political differences among major powers display that the new Cold War is likely to be waged between the Russia-China alliance and the US-led alliance in Asia.
Despite cooperation, disagreements exist between Washington and Beijing over Chinese export of missile technology, human rights and Taiwan issue. American strategic thinkers take China’s military modernization as a great threat to its military bases in the continent.
In the past too, some developments had also revived the old animosity between Russia and the US. Apart from differences over American occupation of Iraq and its national missile defense system (NMD), in August 2007, America blamed Russia in connection with an incident of a missile, dropped on Georgian soil. In that backdrop, Russian President Putin had openly stated that his country was returning to its Soviet era practice of sending long-range bomber aircraft on regular patrols near NATO airspace.
During his trip to Australia, on November 17, 2011, President Barrack Obama, while sending an unmistakable message to Beijing said, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.” The then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had revealed during his visit to Singapore that the US will shift a majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 as part of a new US military strategy in Asia.
Russia, on January 18, 2012 rejected the tough US-led western strategy of sanctions over Iran and Syria. In this regard, Russia and China had opposed the US-led NATO attack on Libya. In February, this year, they jointly vetoed the American-sponsored resolution in the UN Security Council, calling on the Syrian president to step down. Notably, old NATO ally Turkey also changed its policy. By supporting the cause of Palestinians, Ankara was increasing trade with Iran in defiance of sanctions against Tehran. Both Moscow and Beijing had asked the US to resolve the question of Iran’s nuclear programme peacefully. Although this issue has been settled in the recent past, yet Israel calls it American historical blunder, and is still acting upon a war-like diplomacy against Tehran.
It noteworthy that on August 16, 2007, during the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), their leaders displayed strength against the rising dominance of the US in the region, and called for a multi-polar system in the world. President Putin had even proposed defense cooperation among the member states. Participating in the Summit, this year, Pakistan and Iran got permanent membership of the SCO which is seen as anti-American club.
In 2009, Islamabad and Tehran signed the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project without New Delhi, as the latter was reluctant in this context owing to its pro-US tilt.
Pakistan has a strategic geo-political location at the corridor of major world maritime oil supply lines, and has close proximity to oil-rich Central Asian countries. Pakistan’s location could influence Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport (The CPEC agreement) could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world. It has even shifted the central gravity of the Great Game to Pakistan. Besides China, Pakistan has also cultivated its relationship with the Russia. Moscow and Islamabad agreed to enhance bilateral relations in diverse fields. So, Islamabad is the focus of attention in the wake of the emerging geo-political scenario of the Cold War.
The new Cold War would divide the world between two blocks. Main players of the game such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Asian Republics are likely to align with Russia-China block. On the other side, Japan, Georgia, Ukraine, South Korea and India would join American block. In case of foreign troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the latter could also join the Russia-China block, because Taliban could reemerge in Afghanistan, and could topple the US-backed present regime. In that scenario, India would have to rollback its network from Afghanistan. Apart of other Islamic countries, at the latter stage, a majority of the Arab countries will also join the Russia-China block in wake of public backlash against Obama’s unsuccessful policy of the Middle East.
As regards the European countries and European Union, their major states which are reluctant to favor American military adventurism due to NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan, economic instability in the world, and are preoccupied with their internal problems—are further reducing their defense budgets, could play their impartial role of reconciliation between the two rival blocks.
Nonetheless, instead of rectifying America’s internal and external policies of Bush-era, President Obama’s faulty strategy clearly prove that he has weakened the US to wage the new Cold War.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations