Is the Cold War in sight?
Is the Cold War in sight?
Kashmir time. Dated: 06/13/2021 11:19:48 AM
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
A year and a half after the start of the global pandemic, romantic notions of a united world focused on a universal challenge can be safely dismissed. The reality is bitter. The world has accelerated towards a more polarized world, divided not only by socio-economic inequalities and their deepening as marginalized people across the world bearing the brunt of the pandemic and its multiple consequences, but also by the power struggles of the main global players.
It becomes clearer as US President Joe Biden reaches the shores of Europe for a plethora of meetings, starting with the G7 summit, whose main goal is not just to negotiate a deal for a tax regime. world, but also to form and strengthen diplomatic relations and political alliances, encouraged by the exponentially growing economic and military prowess of China and its partnership with Russia. On the other side of the globe, Chinese Premier Xi Jinpeng urged senior leaders of his Communist Party to improve their skills in communicating with the world, signaling that he was trying to compete with the United States for global public opinion and gaining supporters. China’s image is taking a hit. Its tradition of being belligerent and pugnacious is just one reason. Suddenly, the theory of the Wuhan Covid-19 laboratory leak that scientists dismissed last year as inconclusive for lack of clear evidence was pulled out of the bag not because there is more scientific evidence for it. establish its veracity but because the information of the American intelligence says it. It’s also strange that the world, which has been silent for years about China’s heinous crimes against Uyghur Muslims, is also suddenly taking note – albeit still in low voices. Added to this, a meeting of the Quad, the Indo-Pacific alliance which has been in the crosshairs of China, is also on the agenda. On the other hand, China seals its relations with Russia through partnership and cooperation; and also start a treasure hunt for more partners. The signs are distinct. The trade war between the United States and China tilts and falls into the biggest battleground for hegemony. Are we heading towards the Second Cold War as the rest of the world is dragged down by this standoff between two giants to the detriment of all humanity and with additional consequences for developing countries caught like a football in a quagmire? escape?
There is a good chance that European nations can, if motivated by pragmatism, smell the burning embers and put them out. But when a hegemonic battle is presented and sold as a war of ‘modernism’ and ‘justice’ against ‘racial abuse’ and ‘strangled democracy’, and the pressure comes, it won’t take long for many of them take sides. Still in the speculative stage, but if another cold war is thrown in the face of the world, India and the rest of the South Asian region have little to look forward to. What happens next is unpredictable. We can only hazard a few assumptions. China is already doing more than nibbling Indian territory on the Indochinese border. Pakistan is a traditional ally of China but is also in partnership with the United States especially on the Afghan question – an area to watch as American troops will withdraw completely this year. India has a strategic role to play in Afghanistan and the recent push, which has come from the United States ally, the United Arab Emirates, to negotiate a cosmetic peace between India and Pakistan must also be seen under this angle. China could use its friendly overtures with Pakistan and bullying tactics with India to extract a further pound of flesh. The United States could arm Pakistan and play with India’s ambition to become an economic powerhouse and try to keep the two in tow. The United States has a strategic interest in the region, and China has both an economic and a strategic interest. Who wins in this battle of mind may not be as relevant as the likelihood of the region becoming a potential theater for the next Cold War, if that is what looms, with all its deadly heat.
Although not a member, India is among the countries that have been invited to a virtual meeting of the G7 summit and will join the United States again for the Quad in the coming month. Will he be sucked into the story? It shouldn’t. India, like Russia, must give up pretending to be the next superpower and give up the temptation to become America’s next pet poodle. India could learn the lessons of the pre-1990s Cold War and apply them in a more recent context. India had barely emerged from the clutches of colonial rule when it began after WWII, and was still grappling with its inherent contradictions, the burden of partition and the communal holocaust and taking small steps. towards democracy. Today, the internal challenges posed by decades of inequality and more recent communalized politics may be of a different nature, but India is viewed across the world with a certain amount of judgment. Even then, India was taken seriously on the foreign scene despite its recent independence. In the 1950s, Nehru and the leaders of Third World leaders like Gamel Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, shaped the vision of a third bloc of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that would help reduce the tensions. in a bipolar world order and also to put on the plate the requirement of a new international economic order. However, not perfectly, NAM has become a global economic and political pressure group. Today India’s position and stature in the world order is much higher and it could learn from the successes and failures of NAM and prepare to emulate the strategy, with modifications, to prevent the re-emergence of two blocks or overwrite it.
A cold war that can easily rekindle tensions or bring the world to the brink of another world war is unaffordable today. Unlike the post-WWII era, the world today is highly nuclearized and spending on nuclear weapons and other armaments is increasing dramatically, refusing to take a break even during Covid. Even as the pandemic raged and economies around the world were devastated, nuclear-weapon countries increased their spending on atomic arsenals by $ 1.4 billion last year, according to the International Campaign for abolition of nuclear weapons (ICAN). When hospital beds, oxygen, ventilators and vaccines became scarce almost everywhere in the world, nine countries including the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan have spent a total of $ 72 billion on weapons of mass destruction. The greatest concern is that this nuclear arsenal is not only opposed to the nuclear arsenal of an “adversary”, but also to the cybernetic prowess of the latter. In a world that is changing from kinetic military warfare to artificial intelligence warfare. Thus, countries threatened by the cyber superiority of another will find a legitimate excuse to press the nuclear button.
India and the rest of South Asia, in partnership with other developing countries, could play a crucial role in preventing this. Instead of using the myopic lens for short term gains, it is necessary to think big and think outside the box.