By Ayaz Ahmed
In 1945, the US State Department closely observed that: “the resources of the Middle East are a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in the world history.”
Presumably, the effective control over the topsy-turvy Middle Eastern affairs — both economic and security — can immensely help a hegemonic power to effectually exercise increasing clout in the Eurasian region, the potential reservoir of strategically important energy resources. This can arguably make such a power to covertly or overtly influence all countries across the planet because Eurasia is laden with the biggest reservoirs of the world’s oil and gas resources. Being a regional hegemon since the 1890s, the United States has left no stones unturned to either forcibly or diplomatically prevent Imperial Germany (from 1870 to 1919), Nazi Germany (from 1933 to 1945) and the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) during the Cold War from disruptively exercising relative dominance over the greater Middle East.
The recent visit of firebrand American President Donald Trump manifestly indicates that paranoid Uncle Sam has grown increasingly perturbed over direct Chinese and Russian attempts at augmenting their strategic, diplomatic and economic footprints in the oil-rich region. Russian all-out military assistance to the tottering Assad regime in war-stricken Syria and Chinese growing military engagement with Saudi Arabia are two major cases in point. All this poses a significant question: Will the Pentagon allow asserting Russia and emerging China to steadily outsmart and outweigh the United States in the region? The question can be convincingly answered with the help of International Relations’ theory of ‘offensive realism’.
Though the Trump administration is desperately keen on generating substantial revenues and ample job opportunities for Americans at home by massive arms deals with Saudi Arabia, the long-term objective of the American security establishment is to prevent China from morphing into a regional hegemonic power. Why? Because a regional hegemon in Asia is highly likely to project its hard and soft power beyond its immediate backyard, thus posing a security threat to the United States and states in American backyard (read the 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis). Taking this unfolding power politics, sabre-rattling and muscle-flexing into consideration, this article attempts to explain in detail the extended strategic and economic objectives of the United States behind the President Trump’s maiden visit to Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich and emerging military power in the Middle East, and Israel, the most powerful state in the region. Before that, the opinion critically analyses that whether the United States is a declining power on the planet? As always needed, a relevant theory of IR is highly required to succinctly explain and analyse the paradigm shift of American policy towards the energy-rich region. Given the ongoing Cold War between America and China in East and South Asia and Russian new Great Game in Afghanistan, ‘offensive realism’ would be an effective theory to spell out the changing contours of American policy towards the greater Middle East
Offensive Realism in Brief
John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, is the main proponent of offensive realism. In his renowned book, “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”, he outlines his theory of offensive realism in a cogent and succinct fashion. The following is a brief explanation of offensive realism as propounded by Professor Mearsheimer:
Competition for Maximum Power
The structure of the international system is composed of both small and great powers in the absence of a potent night watchman to prevent these states, especially the most powerful ones, from viciously attacking and subsequently subjugating impotent countries to maximise their (great powers) burgeoning national interests. Though the United Nations Organization ( UNO) has maintained a sort of presence since the end of the World War Second and throughout the Cold War, the organization has fared badly and unsatisfactorily since then to stop powerful countries such as America and Russia ( read American invasions of Vietnam from 1954 to 1973, Afghanistan from 2001 to present and Iraq from 2003 till 2011 and former Soviet Union’s annexations of Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia from 1968 to 1989, Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its occupation of Crimea in 2014, to name only few ) from invading less powerful nations on the planet.
Since such an anarchic architecture of contemporary international relations inevitably creates increasing security or survival issues for sovereign states, each country tends to intentionally employ plenty of its sources of national power to ultimately gain a predominant position and exercise power in its own region. Even though such an ominous race for national power creates ‘security dilemma’ in different regions, but this immensely helps states to individually ensure their security and survival in the highly anarchic atmosphere in the world’s politics. According to Professor Mearsheimer, under such circumstances, “The most powerful states seek to establish hegemony in their region of the world, while also ensuring that no rival great power dominates another area.”
International System is Anarchic
States not individuals are the main actors in the international arena. As states possess supreme power in international politics, their behaviour in dealing with other international personalities (countries) is not restricted or controlled by a higher and more powerful authority stands above them. When faced with formidable adversities, especially security ones, there does not exist a mighty and responsible power to immediately come to rescue the state from hot water. Professor Mearshmeir adds to this point that: “There is no ultimate arbiter or leviathan in the system that states can turn to if they get into trouble and need help. This is called an anarchic system, as opposed to a hierarchic one”.
Capabilities of States
Being one of the main components of offensive realism, John Mearsheimer attaches pivotal importance to capabilities of states as international actors. Needless to mention, that almost all sovereign states possess some sorts of capabilities. However, some countries have remarkably greater capabilities than others on account of their technological advancement, leadership competence, geostrategic position and natural resources. Unlike intentions, of states, capabilities are largely tangible. John Mearsheimer quips that: “Capabilities are reasonably easy to measure because they are largely composed of material objects that can be seen, assessed and counted.”
In terms of leadership, economic and military capabilities, the United States has thus far remained the most capable global power on the international stage since the end of Cold War in 1989 and the fateful disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s. However, the United States’ policy of ‘onshore balancing’ (to establish Rapid Deployment Forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War of 1990-91 to militarily intervene in regional conflicts), dual containment of Iraq and Iran from the 1990s to 2003, reckless invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003 to foster its liberal hegemony (use of carrots and sticks to promote democratic valued on foreign soils) have provided China, and to lesser extent to Russia, with ample opportunities to expedite their economic boom and military power. While the United States is estimated to have lost $ 4 to 8 trillion dollars only in its open-ended wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Uncertainty of States’ Intentions
The offensive realists also lay emphasis on intentions of incumbent leaders. Unlike laid-down policies, core intentions of leaders are largely uncertain, thus making it hard enough to ascertain accurately the genuine and hidden objectives of leaders. Professor Mearsheimer warns that: “In particular, states can never know with complete confidence whether another state might have its gun sights on them for one reason or another. The problem of discerning states’ intentions is especially acute when one ponders their future intentions since it is almost impossible to know who the leaders of any country will be five or more years from now, much less what they will think about foreign policy.”
The liberals in the United States may ponder that the Chinese grand initiative of One Belt One Road (OBOR), String of Pearls, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC) and the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, New Silk Road, etc. are benignly calculated to connect economies of South Asia, Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa for greater economic cooperation and resultant prosperity in these regions. Excuse me; the Pentagon does not think so.
Both offensive and structural realists in the United States are highly skeptical about the ongoing Chinese connectivity projects. They have mercantilist perspective about Chinese economic growth and futuristic projection of its soft power across Asia. They opine that China would deliberately capitalise on its economic advancement and expansion to further increase the capacity and capability of its armed forces. Despite such apprehension and projection of Chinese objectives, the core intentions of China are still uncertain. Ominously, such uncertainty tends to increase arms race, the intensity of the dormant Cold War, saber-rattling and muscle-flexing between the United States, the sole superpower and China, potential hegemon in Asia.
Survival of States
The theory of offensive realism deems survival of states as the most important objective to be taken care of. However, this should not be clean forgotten that survival is not the only goal because states have several other ambitions. But, “when push comes to shove, survival trumps all other goals, basically because if a state does not survive, it cannot pursue those other goals”. According to Professor Mearsheimer, survival means more than merely maintaining a state’s territorial integrity, although that goal is of fundamental importance; it also means preserving the autonomy of a state’s policymaking process.
States as Rational Actors
States are assumed to be rational actors, which is to say they are reasonably effective at designing strategies that maximise their chances of survival.
These assumptions, when combined, cause states to behave in particular ways. Specifically, in a world where there is some chance—even just a small one—that other states might have malign intentions as well as formidable offensive military capabilities, states tend to fear each other. The fact that there is no night watchman in an anarchic system whom states can call if trouble comes knocking at their door. Accordingly, they recognise they must look out for their own survival, and the best way to do that is to be especially powerful.
As per offensive realistic perspective, once a state maximises regional hegemony, it has a further target: to prevent other great powers from dominating their geographical regions. In other words, no regional hegemon tolerates a peer competitor. The underlying reason is that regional hegemons—because they are so dominant in their neighborhood—are free to roam around the globe and interfere in other regions of the world. This situation implies that regional hegemons are likely to try to cause trouble in each other’s backyard. Thus, any state that achieves regional hegemony will want to make sure that no other great power achieves a similar position, freeing that counterpart to roam into its neighbourhood.
According to Professor Mearsheimer, but if a rival state achieves regional dominance, the goal will be to end its hegemony as expeditiously as possible. The reason is simple: it is much more propitious to have two or more great powers in all the other key areas of the world, so that the great powers there will have to remain apprehensive about each other and thus be less able to interfere in the distant hegemon’s own backyard. In sum, the best way to survive in international anarchy is to be the sole regional hegemon.
Is the US Dominance Really Under Threat from China or Russia?
According to Global Trends 2030, compiled by the National Intelligence Council, the United States will lose its superpower status by 2030. A recent Pew Research Center’s public opinion survey has found that an increasing number of Americans fearfully view China as the next global superpower. And some analysts predict rising Russia as the next hegemonic power of the world.
The advocates of ‘declining America’ opine that both Russia and China are fast emerging to challenge the American economic and military dominance throughout the world. According to them, Russia has recently broken American military preponderance in Syria, while China has steadily outweighed Uncle Sam economically in Africa. Both these communist states are engaged in carving out special spheres of influence for their military and economic objectives from the disputed waters of Far East Asia to Eastern Europe.
This has led some analysts of world affairs to raise the pertinent question: is America on the decline at the global level as a superpower?
The United States has utterly failed to contain the simmering Syrian civil war and bring an end to the Russian strategic incursion of Ukraine. The outgoing Obama administration is grappling with some mounting economic and security challenges in Eastern Europe, East Asia, South Asia and in the Middle East, and seems largely unable to resolve these threatening issues.
Is the United States really a declining power on the world stage because of the rise of the rest, especially China and Russia? The United States began its journey to become the world’s superpower at the dawn of the 19th century. After the 1898 Treaty of Paris, it became a colonial power with overseas territories, including Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the Island of Guam. At that point, some analysts of international relations viewed the United States as a great power or emerging superpower.
When the two World Wars had weakened France, Germany, Japan and Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union rose to power, thus creating a bipolar international system. America’s systematic military tactics during the cold war immensely helped it inflict a crushing defeat on the erstwhile USSR in Afghanistan, hence emerging as the world’s hegemonic power after the fateful disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s.
American military policy on the Syrian civil war, the Russian invasion of Crimea and on China’s steady rise in Asia and Africa is based on the premise of ‘cautious intervention’. This is primarily calculated to avoid getting embroiled in direct and costly wars like those of Afghanistan and Iraq. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a portent of American weakness; rather a sign of more military prowess and economic power by saving trillions of dollars.
Impartial and meticulous research clearly show that the United States still maintains enough military, political, economic, cultural and scientific superiority so as to exercise global dominance till 2050.
There is no doubt that China’s economy is growing at an impressive rate. But it’s not just the size of an economy that matters – it’s also the quality. Though China is forecast to grow at 6.7 percent as per the World Bank report, the American economy still remains the bedrock of the global financial system. More than 80 percent of all financial transactions worldwide are conducted in dollars, as are 87 percent of foreign currency market transactions.
On account of its growing population of retirees, prodigious environmental challenges and imminent cold war with India and the United States in certain regions China will face considerable challenged in the future. Such increasing economic adversities will result in slowing down the level of the current economic boom.
The Americans have surpassed China in terms of per capita income. American per capita income was last recorded at $51,486 in 2015, while China had just $6,416.18 in the same year. According to Bloomberg, for the first time in almost a decade, China has lost ground in catching up with the US economy, when output is measured in dollars. American GDP increased $590 billion in 2015 from a year earlier. China’s economy, while reporting 6.9 percent growth for the year, added $439 billion. The Yuan is projected to depreciate to 6.79 against the dollar, down more than seven percent from the average level in 2015.
On the military front, the United States enjoys an unrivalled superiority in the world. According to SIPRI, the United States remains by far the world’s largest military spender with a total expenditure of $596 billion – at nearly three times the level of China, which is ranked second. Moreover, American military exports account for nearly 33 percent of worldwide arms exports – by far the top arms exporter on the planet. Though China has upped its share of global arms exports by over 60 percent compared to 2006-2010, it still lags behind the United States in terms of exporting sophisticated arms to developing countries.
Apart from that, the United States holds around 800 military bases in some 50 countries, spending about $156 billion annually on them. Its navy has 10 large nuclear-powered carriers, the largest carriers in the world. From the Atlantic Ocean to the South China Sea, American battleships can be seen prepared for any unfortunate incident against the burgeoning interests of either the United States or its allies. Neither Russia nor China possesses such ubiquitous and sophisticated aircraft carriers to challenge American naval potency at least in the near future.
The most important yardstick of a potential superpower is its continuous and growing resourcefulness and innovation. Of the nine largest tech companies in the world, eight are based in the United States. Today, American research universities and scientific institutions are the best, thus allowing the country to produce new products while leaving the world behind. “America has come back from the financial crisis with robust technology innovation leading the recovery, while China’s economy is heading down”, says Niu Jun, an international relations professor at Peking University.
At present, the United States is spending about 30 percent of all research and development money to keep its comparative advantage intact. For decades Americans worried about energy dependency, yet today the United States is the world’s number one producer of oil and natural gas largely due to its qualitative and unmatchable research in the field of energy. Both China and Russia need approximately 30 to 40 years and investment of billions of dollars to catch up with the Americans in the field of research and development.
Last but not the least, in today’s globalised world, democratic and liberal countries make far greater progress than undemocratic and illiberal states. Unlike China and Russia, the United States has the best democratic institutions which have immensely helped it maintain and foster military strength and economic growth. Such a system has brought the best brains to the saddle in all government departments.
In a nutshell, due to its increasing economic, military, technological and democratic power, the United States will continue to enjoy the position of the global superpower in the near future. China and Russia can be considered as major world powers in terms of military and economic strength. Therefore, it is imperative for Pakistan – for greater national interests – to cultivate amicable relations with all these three powers, particularly China and the United States, in the days ahead.
So, then What Prompted Trump’s Rush to the Middle East?
President Trump’s Domestic Issues
Since formally taking over the Oval Office on 20 January 2017, the Trump administration has been grappling with mounting political controversy over alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election and Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information about Daesh to Russia. The FBI has extended its investigation to an incumbent senior White House officer. More importantly, former FBI director James Comey has taken an audacious step to publicly testify about the probe.
If the FBI succeeds to prove the aforementioned allegations, the firebrand president is highly likely to come under increasing public pressure to step down as did Richard Nixon over the infamous Watergate scandal in August 1974. The Democrats and anti-Trump lobbies have cashed in on the unfolding situation to pit the public opinion against the controversy-ridden Trump administration.
Under such circumstances, it becomes pertinent for a leader, especially from a country like the United States that follows a realist policy, to explore those available opportunities which could lower the rising political temperature and divert public opinion against him. The Pentagon has lately taught President Trump some political and military lessons that the United States has to increase its diplomatic and military engagement in the Middle East. The American security establishment is increasingly concerned that the domestic political controversy over the President Trump’s sharing of classified information to Russia has instigated key Middle Eastern monarchies to tilt towards China.
Though President Trump wished to use the recent visit to divert public attention from the above-stated controversies, given the efficacy of American investigative institutions and democratic maturity of the people, it would be quite difficult for Trump to extricate himself from the political whirlwind against him.
Before Donald Trump, although all American presidents attached paramount importance to oil-rich Arab monarchies in the Middle East, they always prioritised the security of Jewish Israel over Arab countries in the strategically important region. So, President Trump’s selection of Saudi Arabia for his maiden visit makes it patently clear that he wishes to play a diplomatic masterstroke to maximise American strategic and economic designs in the Middle East. The main reason behind all of this is to prevent the major countries of the region from bandwagoning with China in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, this is also chiefly designed to slowly block Putin-led Russia from fishing into the troubled waters of the region. Both American economic and strategic decision makers are fully acquainted that Beijing has lately stepped up its diplomatic steps aimed at fostering by leaps and bounds its burgeoning commercial and military relations with Arab monarchies.
As these two writers frequently argue in their articles that if China continues to grow economically and militarily without any stumbling block created by the United States, China will soon begin posing a potential threat to the core economic and strategic interest of the United States around the planet in the foreseeable future. What is certain from this unfolding economic and security competition is that the United States will go an extra mile by exerting backstairs influence in East Asia, South Asia and in the Middle East with the sole intent to encircle and contain China.
Strategic and Economic Significance of Saudi Arabia for the United States
Since 1931, Saudi Arabia has uninterruptedly continued to play a central role in fostering American economic boom and military preponderance by exporting substantial oil and purchasing expensive weaponry from the United States. There is no doubt that Saudi energy resources have thus far played a pivotal role in expanding and advancing American economy and arms markets, thus producing prospects of jobs for hundreds and thousands of American citizens. More importantly, the United States has banked on the House of Saud to prevent Iran from disturbing the balance of power in the region since 1979. Though unstable and vague, the existing balance of power in the Middle East has tremendously helped Washington stop Iran from dominating the region since the 1980s. If Iran had succeeded to establish its dominant military footprint in the oil-rich Gulf, Tehran would have allowed the former Soviet Union and now Russia to freely roam in the Middle East, thus threatening American influence in the region. Now, the United States seems to have mainly decided to stop Saudi Arabia from jumping into Chinese bandwagon because Saudi Arabia’s exports of oil and import of sophisticated arms from China will probably expedite Beijing’s journey to become a hegemon in Asia.
The Obama Administration’s Reluctance to Oust Assad
Bilateral between the US and Saudi Arabia reached their lowest ebb when the erstwhile President Barack Obama had continued to drag his feet in terms of militarily intervening in the festering Syrian civil war. Moreover, the conclusion of the portentous Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration in July 2015 cast a blight to the enduring economic and strategic relations between Washington and Riyadh. The House of Saud remained slightly apprehensive that Uncle Sam would once again make Iran the regional police to cushion its core commercial and security objectives in the region. All this proved propitious for China to attract Saudi Arabia towards its arms market; the latter displayed outright unwillingness to purchase American weapons in the latter part of 2016 because of the Obama administration’s open reluctance to overthrow the Iranian-backed Syrian regime.
Under such circumstances, President Trump’s visit can be termed historic in Saudi-American relations because both asserting Russia and Iran — the arch rivals of the US and Saudi Arabia, respectively — are heavily engaged in bumping up their military footprints in the militancy-hit Middle East.
To add to American worries and apprehension, China has recently displayed its inclination to augment its economic ties with Arab monarchies, especially with Saudi Arabia. The Saudi king’s recent visit to China is a major case in point. During his visit to China, King Salman of Saudi Arabia signed a deal with Beijing to set up a factory in the kingdom to produce Chinese hunter-killer aerial drones.
The Significance of American Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia
During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump signed a nearly $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal will be worth $350 billion over 10 years. He also concluded an accord with Bahrain to send F-16 fighters worth 5 billion dollars. Intriguingly, Saudi Arabia signed a nonbinding agreement committing $20 billion to upgrade existing infrastructure in the United States. While taking to Saudi King Salman, Trump said that: “Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the US and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Such massive investments will ostensibly create hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus helping Trump gain the overwhelming backing of powerful arms lobbies in the US. This will also prove effective in terms of shifting attention from the aftershock of Trump’s firing of James Comey.
The increasing military ties between Saudi Arabia and China have immensely helped the latter to expand its economy and arms markets. Such cooperation between the two countries is expected to assist China with regard to augmenting its naval presence in the Arabian Sea. Moreover, exports of expensive and modern weaponry bring substantial revenues, thus helping the country to scale up the size of its armed forces. Presumably, China is likely to divert a large portion of its arms sales to further build up its navy so as to make it an invincible blue waters navy in the region. This is imperative for China to protect its long, perilous and costly Sea Lines of Communications (SLCs) stretching across the Arabian Sea. It is interesting to note that China requires a potent navy to maximise its economic interests and vice versa.
Such a striking development in the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East has terribly worried the United States. Washington seriously considers this a systematic bid by China to dramatically increase its trade ties with the Middle East and fully capitalise on its economic cooperation to expand its naval presence in the Arabian Sea close to the Middle East and India. Moreover, most of the strategic thinkers in the Pentagon worryingly think that ever-increasing economic and military cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia will immeasurably help Beijing become an overwhelming hegemon in Asia. After becoming a dominant power in Asia, China will start progressively increasing its defence and economic partnership with European countries. Furthermore, more and more Middle Eastern and Asian countries will begin knocking at Chinese door when faced by portentous security issues. That is why the United States has decided to prevent China from outsmarting Washington in the Middle East. The best way to acquire this objective is to placate the major economic and military powers in the region. Apparently, the massive American arms deal with Saudi Arabia and President Trump’s speech of labelling Iran with a state sponsoring terrorism and militancy have enormously pleased the House of Saud.
Countering the increasing Clout of Russia and Iran in the Middle East
The Pentagon is concerned over increasing influence of Russia and Iran in the Middle East. Iran’s continued supply of arms and monetary assistance have made Hezbollah so potent that it now poses a potential security threat to Israel, the US protégé in the Middle East. Moreover, Iran’s military support to the Youthi rebels in Yemen and the tottering Assad regime has immensely helped Tehran project its hard power across the region. It goes without saying that an asserting Iran will challenge both Saudi and Israeli dominance of the oil-rich Middle East.
The Trump administration has lately realised that its missile attacks against belligerent Assad regime in Syria have largely proved inadequate in terms of placating American friends in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. After the US dismal failure to win the costly and deadly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, now Washington does not wish to burn its finger by militarily intervening in Syria and Yemen. Nor does the US wish to get itself entangled in a full-blown war against Iran in the Persian Gulf.
The Pentagon has drastically changed its policy of ‘regime change’ in the Middle East. It has decided to sell sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia so that the oil-rich kingdom would battle against Iranian-funded rebels and regimes in the region. Such a dramatic change in American policy of regime change is likely to prove as a masterstroke; this will not only help Washington amass billions of dollars in arms sales, such a policy will also be effective in getting Iranian assertiveness circumvented in the region.
However, the supply of modern weaponry to Saudi Arabia at an alarming rate will probably bring about ‘security dilemma’ in the region. This will instigate Iran to purchase advanced arms and ammunitions from Russia, thus further complicating and exacerbating ongoing muscle-flexing and proxy wars between Tehran and Riyadh in the Middle East. What should be kept in mind is that instability in the Middle East is in the greater interests of both the US and Russia because this creates mushrooming markets for the two countries’ arms industries.
The Assad regime has provided Russia with the Tartus naval facility and the Khmeimin air base. These bases have immensely helped Russia continue its annexation of Crimea and increase its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The US recourse to missile attacks against the Assad regime in April this year stems from the fact that Western-funded rebels have proved ineffective to oust Assad from power.
The US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Al Shayrat air base in Homs from the destroyers – the USS Porter and the USS Ross, which are currently stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. Some early reports indicate that the airfield’s planes and support infrastructure were severely damaged or destroyed.
The United States is inclined to instigate Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies to employ their arms against President Assad in Syria. This will certainly help Washington to kill two birds with one stone: the United States would save its defence resources by avoiding military intervention in Syria and amass billions of dollars in arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the ilk. However, present day Russia does not seem to be posing a potential security threat to the mainland America and core American objectives around the globe.
The United States’ apprehension that China would dominate the Middle Eastern arms markets seemingly prompted President Trump to visit Saudi Arabia to conclude multi-billion arms deal with the kingdom. The Pentagon is fearful that Beijing is intent on fostering its economic and defense ties with the Middle East and rely on such partnership to increase its (Chinese) naval footprint in the strategically important region. Some leading offensive realists in the United States emphasize that such Chinese rapid economic and military rise would pose a threat to the United States’ national interests and regional hegemonic position and could create existential issues for the very security of the country in the future. They suggest that Washington should forge a regional bloc with some major Asian countries such as India, Singapore, Japan and South Korea to contain and weaken China. As explained above, though China appears to be gaining substantial economic and military power, Beijing will take decades but not centuries to be able to balance the United States’ hegemonic power in the world. The projected cut-throat competition between China and the United States is likely to push the globe to the politics of the Cold War period. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that: “Only the dead have seen the end of the war in this world,”-Plato.
The writer edits The Asia Watch.