Revival of bipolar system

Ayaz Ahmed

In the ever-changing dynamics of global affairs nothing but only “change” is permanent. Similarly, the turns and twists of the 2nd decade of the 21st century manifest vividly a long-awaited transformation of world’s troublemaking unipolar system to a tranquil bipolar one. Once again, the competition aimed at international dominance is noticeable between the dwindling capitalism and the rising communism. It bodes well for the international peace and security in the near future.

Historically speaking, two powerful victors of the deadly World War II the US and the former Soviet Union mostly dominated the international politics in the restive Cold War period. The US-led the capitalist bloc composed of some countries of the Western Europe under the security organization, NATO, geared against Russia. Whereas the erstwhile Soviet Union directed the communist bloc under the banner of the former Warsaw Pact up till 1991 against its arch rival, the capitalist bloc. There existed a sort of balance of power and balance of terror between them on both conventional and nuclear fronts, which therefore compelled both of the powers to exercise bilateral restraints from attacking each other, and adopting mutual disarmament: SALT and START are two cases in point.

In the bipolar system, America and the Soviet Union reached on the verge of a menacing nuclear confrontation in 1962 over the Cuban Missile crisis instigated by Russian deployment of deadly weapons in Cuba. Moreover, they involved themselves in the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1955-1975) in which America suffered a humiliating defeat. In retaliation, the Americans took a harsh revenge on the Soviet Union by inflicting a defeat on it during the Afghan war (1979-1988); which resulted in the disintegration of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991.

The end of the bipolar system in the 1990s ushered in a disruptive unipolar world dominated by the US. For its national interest, national power and national prestige, the US bombed Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011 and has been providing lethal arms and ammunition to the rebels in Syria and Ukraine on manifestly clumsy grounds. Alarmingly, it saturated with arms and ammunition the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia to maximize its national security and economic interest. In a nutshell, the unipolar world under the abortive guardianship of the US has so far adversely inflicted immense losses on humanity which do not bode well for the posterity.

Also read: China vs America: the new cold war

Now the sun of unipolarism and American invincible hegemony is setting. Russian and Chinese recent economic and military growths have revived the dormant bipolar system at the global level. Russia under strongman Vladimir Putin is emerging on international scene economically and militarily by leaps and bounds. According to the surveys of the Forbes Magazine, it is not US President Barak Obama, but Putin who is the world’s strongest man of 2013 and 2014.

The Obama administration has cautiously refrained from intervening militarily in Iran to ruin its clandestine nuclear programme and in the simmering Syrian civil war only due to the apprehension emanating from Putin who unflinchingly supports both of these regimes. Astonishingly, at present, Russian advanced aircraft, tanks and highly trained troops are bombing CIA-trained rebels in Syria and in Crimea, while the US is watching as a toothless spectator.

The economically and militarily emerging China is the second factor that has made the unipolar system wither away slowly from the international scene. China has deliberately broken American influence in the Asia-Pacific by augmenting tremendously its economic and trade relations with the regional countries. Also, it has successfully dwarfed US military tentacles through increasing its naval build up, carving out strategically important “spheres of influence|” and transforming islands into a vital military and naval bases in the restive South China Sea. Apparently, China would systematically diminish American dwindling influence in the region in the near future. All that clearly shows the end of unipolarism which is imperative for meaningful international tranquility and security. This ongoing or imminent bipolar system will usher in a balance of power system, deterrence, detente and resultant disarmament, thus impeding either side to impose its will on impotent states by sheer and open-ended application of military force.

For Pakistan such an unfolding situation would not be new because of the fact that it played a decisive role in alliance with the US in the 1980s chiefly aimed at inflicting a crushing defeat on the faltering Soviet Union. In the emerging international order, it should strive assiduously to identify its core national interests and prudently employ its foreign policy so as to maximize these interests. Cooperation with emerging Russia would help terrorism-stricken Pakistan to stamp out rampaging terrorism, mitigate ever rising energy crisis, embark upon widespread industrialization, clamp down upon disruptive drug smuggling and enhance harmonious relations with India.

The writer is the editor of the Asia Watch.

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