Thursday, June 26, 2008


...the global level the power-play between the United States and Russia can be expected to end with the dawning of a strategic realization that both the United States and Russia would stand to gain by a mutual cooperation

Asia’s strategic calculus today includes two emerging powers i.e. China and India with global aspirations abounds in countries with nuclear arsenals, namely China, India, Pakistan and Israel and those with closet nuclear weapons like North Korea and Iran.

this Paper addresses the theme under the following heads:
  • The Middle East: Asia’s Explosive Powder Keg
  • Central Asia: The Strategic Power Play
  • South Asia: Strategic Destabilization by China-Pakistan Nexus
  • South East Asia: Up for Grabs by China
  • East Asia: Global and Regional Power Tussle
  • Asia’s Security & Stability: Future Perspectives

The Middle East: Asia’s Explosive Powder Keg

Israel as the only island of political stability in the Middle East has been under relentless military and terrorism onslaughts from its Arab neighbours over the Palestine-Israel dispute.

new strategic conflicts...

These are:
  • (1) United States as the prime ideological enemy of Islamic fundamentalists/Jihadis combine.
  • (2) Strategic rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional power status.
  • (3) Implicit in this is also the sectarian Sunni-Shia conflict that predominates in the Islamic World
  • (4) Nuclear arms race that would be generated by Iran’s nuclear weapons program
  • (5) United States and Western countries severe opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons program
  • (6) The current confrontation in Iraq between USA and Sunni/Shia armed militias
  • (7) Ethnic problems like those of Kurdistan.
  • (8) The US-Iran confrontation.

While any global power play would be confined to control of energy resources, strategic choke points and political influence in the region, it’s the intra-regional conflicts and rivalries

Arab unity or Islamic unity as cementing forces for stability within the region have remained a myth.

The United States continues to be the most powerful strategic player

Central Asia: The Strategic Power Play

after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The Central Asian Republics that emerged were all Islamic by religion and were soon engulfed as targets for control by Islamic fundamentalists

an area of strategic rivalries between the United States, Russia and China

The United States would wish to draw these nations into the Western orbit for reasons of energy security and so also for strategic hemming-in of China.

power play between USA and Russia.

Russia is better placed currently by virtue of geographical contiguity and the economic interdependence of this region on Russia

South Asia: Strategic Destabilization by China-Pakistan Nexus

During the Cold War, it was the United States which ended building up Pakistan as the regional spoiler state, militarily.

China in its bid for Asian domination ended up more venomously by building up Pakistan as a nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles state to confront India. China has been using Pakistan as a proxy to keep India strategically off-balance.

Kashmir was used as a conflictual flashpoint excuse to strategically brow-beat India.

India has emerged as a contending power for global player status.

South Asia has emerged as the prime arena for a more powerful strategic rivalry between India and China as they jostle for global power status.

China and India perceive each other as military threats.

this has become more pronounced with the evolution of the US-India Strategic Partnership.

while both may not opt for direct war, they could end up doing the same through proxies.

Afghanistan continues to be militarily turbulent

The turbulence is due to Pakistan Army's unceasing military support to the Taliban to strategically destabilize US operations and the Karzai Government. China too is involved in military supplies to the Taliban against the United States.

South East Asia: Up for Grabs by China

South East Asia’s strategic complexion can be expressed very briefly as follows:
  • (1) Strategic vacuum has been caused in the region by US strategic distractions in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • (2) US has lost interest in South East Asia after open efforts by countries like Malaysia to keep the United States out of the East Asia Summit economic grouping
  • (3) Russia under Putin has made limited forays in the region.

the region is ripe for a strategic grab by China. Such an attempt by China in itself carries the seeds of confrontation with USA

East Asia: Global and Regional Power Tussle

East Asia that figures most significantly after the Middle East. However, as opposed to the Middle East mired in intra-regional tussles, East Asia is distinguished by a power play on a much higher plane.

China and the United States perceive each other as major military threats

If ever China makes a grab for superpower status, it will be East Asia as the starting block where it will attempt to force the United States to exit from its forward military presence in the Western Pacific.

in terms of American forward military presence, the largest number of military bases and deployments exist here.

Russia’s resurgence could witness restoration of Russia’s strategic assets in the region also but it is unlikely that this would tilt the military balance in China's favor.

China like Pakistan in South Asia, has built up North Korea as the regional spoiler state to destabilize the region. Once the United States stabilizes Iraq and Afghanistan it is likely to deal with North Korea's strategic delinquencies more firmly.

Japan is no strategic push-over and complicates the East Asian strategic calculus for China in favor of the United States.

Asia’s Security & Stability: Future Perspectives

  • “Asia Century” is a myth strategically
  • Within Asia a strategic power tussle between China, India and Japan would predominate
  • In this three-some power play China would stand isolated with India and Japan enjoying strategic convergences
  • This Asian power tussle will have corresponding impact on the global power play.
  • In the global power play, it would be more logical and advisable for the United States and Russia as the erstwhile “status-quo” global powers to view the challenge from China as a ‘revisionist power’ in strategically convergent terms.
The Middle East and East Asia will be the most challenging regions in the Asian strategic calculus.

In terms of global power play, China could therefore end up as a “strategic threat” for the United States and a “strategic irritant” for Russia.


MarcLord said...

America's and Europe's best hope of breaking up BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) is to peel Russia out of it. The price for that will be high, but not as high as the alternatives. Cheney's a strategic moron, and Russia is the key to holding the Mid-East. East Asia we don't actually need, and as these points imply, India and Japan will be able to hold it.

Jesus del Norte said...

Your comment is thought provoking. Are you saying that we need to ally with Russia? Is BRIC an organization such as the SCO?