Friday, August 10, 2007
Update: Peace Mission 2007--NATO East or No?
Again stressing the theme of "this is our own affair" and not something that Washington should be involved with, Liang Guanglie, chief of the general staff of the PLA, re-iterated that the exercises do "not concern the interest of any third party" nor or they intended to pose a "threat to any country."
Interestingly, the drills now being conducted take the Andijan events in Uzbekistan as their inspiration--with armed militants seizing control of a town by using protests as cover. Negative Western reaction to how the Uzbek government dealt with Andijan, of course, was a key factor in propelling Tashkent away from its association with the United States (followed by the closing of the U.S. base) toward closer ties with both Russia and China.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant, in an article tellingly titled Maneuvers to Go Around the United States (again, shades perhaps of a "World without the West that bypasses 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 United States "on all fronts" from opposing plans to deploy missile defense components in central-eastern Europe to "expelling" the U.S. 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 in 2006.
The Chinese, of course, are more circumspect. Chen Hu, executive chief editor of the World Military Affairs magazine, made a point of stressing, "'Peace Mission 2007' targets no country, nor does it mean military alliance," and argued taht the Shanghai grouping is not trying to create a counterbalancing bloc against Washington, describing it as a "new type" of regional security organization which has made obsolete the "traditional security outlook" of seeking a balance of power.
But there was a not-so-subtle dig at Washington--because countries felt the need to work more closely together in the Shanghai framework since "different countries have different anti-terror combat criteria and a few of them push forward hegemony under the cloak of war on terror ..."
How far to take all of this? Devin Stewart of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Relations, raised the point at the World Without the West forum last week that the idea of close, enduring Sino-Russia security cooperation, especially if meant to be a counterbalancing act against the United States, is not taken seriously by many Chinese. So are we seeing another brick in the edifice of what Simon Tisdall of The Guardian called central Asia's answer to Nato, or something far less significant?
They are attempting to create facts on the ground as well as seizing strategic high ground to limit and possibly eliminate the power of independent state actors: Iran, Russia, China, India, Vietnam, North Korea, Burma, Sudan, South Africa, etc.
This project is doomed to failure because of the narrowing gap between the economic, educational, and organizational capabilities of US & EU on one side and the targeted states on the other side.
Consider the fact that 40 years ago, the American Peace Corp. was supplying managerial & educational expertise that is no longer needed - the so-called 3-world now has those expertise.
Consider the missile and nuclear technologies (1940s technical feats) that are mastered by any number of 3-world states: Iran, India, Egypt, China, Brazil, Syria, Pakistan, and others.
Consider also the confidence level of the non-white populations that has increased over the last 3 generations - they have the mentality of confronting superior "White" forces (military, diplomatic, economical, etc.). They are no longer at awe of the US & EU. [Even wars are won first mentally; the will to power and the will to fight.]
Consider the leakage of technology and know-how from US & EU to other parts of the world and the global devolution of power as well.
So, US & EU are going to dissipate themselves at best and at worst create confronations that they cannot afford to loose but cannot win either.
I think this is a good time in history to re-negogiate the UN and other international organizations - the US & EU attempt at world domination will only lead to war.
But the Tsars worried about China, the USSR worried about China, and the Russians worry about China. Geography, demographics, enonomics - all things considered, the long-term potential for conflict seems to be much greater between the two neighbors than that between either one and the US. Just as important, I believe that the national interests of China are too consonant with the well-being of the West (including Japan here).
So, until someone shows me how the joint exercises could lead to joint military action beyond their borders, I won't lose any sleep over the possibility of the SCO morphing into a NATO for authoritarian regimes.