Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A World Without The West

China And Russia Unite To Create New International Order, Without The US

Last week we wrote about the formation of a massive new 'Greater Asia' alliance of nations, bringing together China and Russia, and a fleet of the 'Stans, to form a military alliance to stand up to the aggressive might of the West.

This short essay from the Asia Times is far more informed, and nuanced, than our broad strokes, and argues that while a military alliance between China and Russia is not out of the question in the future, for now the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation (SCO) are more interested in creating a financial and trade bohemoth that no longer needs to rely on the goodwill and the support of the West, primarily the US.

As the writer of this piece describes it, the SCO is now imagining, and making real, the "World without the West" :

What is the significance of "Peace Mission 2007" - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) exercise now under way at the Chebarkulsk training ground in Chelyabinsk, Russia - and the summit that will follow in Bishkek?

Is the SCO, which consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the verge of being transformed into a new Warsaw Pact, a Eurasian counterbalance to the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

Simon Tidsall of The Guardian newspaper quoted Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian defense analyst, who observed: "As Moscow's relations with the West deteriorate, the Kremlin is doing its best to seek allies and is building up the SCO to counterbalance NATO. In propaganda terms, Peace Mission 2007 will be used to the full."

Meanwhile, the Russian newspaper Kommersant, in an article tellingly titled "Maneuvers to go around the United States", sees the exercises and the summit that will follow in Bishkek as part of a renewed Russian effort to push back against the US "on all fronts", from opposing plans to deploy missile-defense components in central-eastern Europe to "expelling" the US from Central Asia altogether. Kommersant also highlights the role played by former defense minister and current Deputy Prime Minister (and presidential contender) Sergei Ivanov in acting as the godfather of this mission, beginning with his visit to Beijing last year.

Statements coming from China, however, support the thesis advanced by political scientists Naazneen Barma, Ely Ratner and Steven Weber that emerging powers are seeking neither to integrate with nor balance against the US, but to create an alternative international order that "routes around" Washington.

Chen Hu, executive chief editor of China's state-owned World Military Affairs magazine, made a point of stressing that "Peace Mission 2007 targets no country, nor does it mean a military alliance", and argued that the Shanghai grouping is not trying to create a counterbalancing bloc against Washington. He described it as a "new type" of regional security organization that has made obsolete the "traditional security outlook" of seeking a balance of power.

Will Washington be more inclined to work with Beijing and Moscow in stabilizing the Greater Eurasian/Middle Eastern region if NATO falters and the European Union does not live up to the promise Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined in the Winter 2003/04 issue of The National Interest, that the US "can look to only one genuine partner in coping with the 'Global Balkans': Europe"?

Bhadrakumar concludes that "the US will increasingly find itself under compulsion to perform as a team player, which suits neither its geostrategy nor its standing as the sole superpower".

At any rate, we are witnessing an interesting test of the "World without the West" thesis unfolding before our eyes.

Read The Whole Asia Times Story Here

President Hu In Kyrgyzstan For SCO Summit

China Triples Military Spending - The Perils Of A Pacific Arms Race

China And Russia Tease American With War Games

SCO Holds First War Games Involving All Its Member States, Including Russia And China

Russia Plans To Double Military Aviation Production