COMMENT: ‘International Relations Theory Suggests Great-Power War Is Coming’

According to IR textbooks, the United States, Russia, and China are on a collision course, writes Matthew Kroenig in the Foreign Policy. He’s deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

“A preventative war initiated by a primate fearful of losing its primacy is very probable,” an Asia Pacific-based defense, security & geopolitics analyst, who has authored several books on US-China relations, Indo-China and South Asia” tells DesPardes when asked to comment on Kroenig’s recent opinion piece in the FP.

According to him: The arguments presented here are not novel. Indeed, these have been debated in Western policy circles for over a decade now. Just like these theoretical musings, there have been equally strongly arguable postulates presented in the burgeoning strategic literature. Post-Cold War policy documents record specific power-focused grand strategic formulations which laid the bases for the contemporary scene. When the Soviet Union collapsed on Christmas Day in 1991, the Cold War’s bipolar order gave way without resistance to the US-led unipolar system. Having served as a willing deputy to the USA against Soviet interests from 1971 to 1989, China withdrew into a marginal stance on the global stage. Only the USA, the “sole superpower” mattered in the unipolar systemic structure. Chinese leaders unrealistically mulled a multipolar future from the margins but Russia under Boris Yeltsin volunteered subordination to the core-power. In February 1992, US officials began drafting policy documents designed to sustain US systemic primacy into the indefinite future. President George H.W. Bush signed the US Defense Planning Guidance for FY 1994-1995 on 23rd April 1992, making it US grand-strategic objective militarily to prevent the rise of any rival power or coalition anywhere on earth ever in the future. In short, the USA would violently and forcefully defend perpetual unipolar systemic primacy. At the time, this looked perfectly realistic. But with post-Cold War globalization dramatically integrating work forces, producers and consumers in deepening networked inter-dependencies across the world, resource-flows established since the early 16th century – from the global South to the Euro-Atlantic North – first slowed, and then reversed.

Uncertainty is the only certain aspect of IR. As for kinetic conflict among the Global Powers, a war of attrition has already commenced through proxies, sanctions, and media manipulation. One hopes that the “Rational Actor” theory holds validity against the specter of total global annihilation.

Amb. G. R. Baloch, Pakistani geopolitical analyst

He adds: This changed economic dynamics, altering the bases of power calculus. Emerging economies, China foremost, gradually acquired economic, technological, commercial and diplomatic clout. Beijing was focused on addressing the challenges of state consolidation, national integration, poverty alleviation and balanced growth when, in July 1999, the DoD’s Office of Net Assessment, in its Summer Study, ‘Asia 2025″, identified China as an emerging ‘constant competitor’ capable of thwarting US military force-projection across the Eurasian landmass, potentially threatening the Unipolar Primate’s perpetual primacy. This had to be stopped. Everything that happened since – President Clinton’s ground-laying trips to India and Vietnam, President Obama’s Asian Pivot/Rebalance, President Trump’s trade war – flowed from the USA’s Displacement Anxiety. Therefore, a preventative war initiated by a primate fearful of losing its primacy is very probable.

For West Economics follow military. For Confucians Economics are secured by military. Africa is already emerging as the next ground zero on global chessboard, but the Confucians will set a different set of rules for the game.

Hamza Shahid, Pakistani defense & security analyst


Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, G. R. Baloch, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani