Global geopolitical configurations in 2022 from Europe to Indo Pacific present the spectacle of deeply polarised world order with the United States-led Western democracies checkmating the challenge posed by the Russia-China Axis of Communist dictatorships. Unfolding portents suggest emergence of return to the Cold War ‘Bipolar World’ throwing critical implications for Indian policy establishment.
Contextually, what needs to be pointed out as a prelude to the analysis following is that 2022 and beyond is unlike the earlier bipolar world where United States and USSR confronted mainly in Europe. In the evolving Bipolar World order the second pole will increasingly be led by China with an enfeebled Russia in tow?
The above factor throws up an entirely new set of geopolitical dynamics reducing the policy bandwidths of countries like India which earlier professed Non-alignment as a policy precept in the earlier bipolar era and now lays emphasis on strategically autonomous policy decision-making in consonance with its perceived national interests and further under the delusion that a Multipolar World will emerge.
Before addressing the issue of implications for India, one must examine whether ever did a multipolar world exist? If it did not, then who was peddling the narratives of a multipolar word?
Multipolar world never existed in the past and global geopolitical dynamics were essentially bipolar with the exception of a decade following the integration of USSR when the United States reigned supreme as the Unipolar Superpower.
Multipolarity was first actively espoused by China in 1990s on disintegration of Soviet Union and actively after Gulf War 1 when United States ‘Unipolarity’ peaked. China then feared United States ‘Humanitarian Interventions’ of the Yugoslavia model. China needed time to build up its military power which it did in the 200s especially its naval power and Chinese advocacy of a multipolar world was a tactical expedient to gain time for its military build-up and also hoping that such advocacy would place US in global geopolitics.
In 2022, China even after exponential build-up of military power enough to challenge United States in the Western Pacific continues to espouse ‘Multipolarity’. China is being hypocritical in doing so because its aggressive military adventurisms on its peripheries exposed that China’s operative strategies were ‘Unilateralism’ in regional policies and that ‘Multilateralism’ was an expedient geopolitical fig-leaf to be played at global level.
Russia too post-2022 has begun singing the Chinese tune of ‘Multipolarity’. Both China and Russia do not genuinely subscribe to ‘Multipolarity’ precept in terms of respective State policy. China’s aggression against Vietnam and Philippines in the South China Sea and Russian Invasion of Ukraine smacked of gross “unilateralism and hegemonistic” impulses.
China and Russia by demonstrated policies of aggression do not qualify to be responsible Major Powers or qualified to preach ‘Multilateralism’.
Contextually in 2022 the global geopolitics both existent and unfolding presents the spectacle of a highly polarised world. Much like the earlier Cold War I , the world is highly polarised in two ‘Power Blocs’ essentially heralding return to a Bipolar World.
In this Bipolar World, unlike the earlier one, what confronts the established Democratic World Order is not the USSR with its European satellites but now a militarily powerful and disruptive Dyad of Russia-China Axis intent on “overturning” the established World Order.
In this unfolding confrontational scenario no bandwidth is available for countries like India to practise ‘Grey Zone’ geopolitical strategies dwelling on ‘Non-alignment 2.0’ or vocal assertions of a Multipolar World which neither exists nor will materialise.
Major implications consequently arise for India wherein its policy establishment has to shed decades-old obsessive fixations of shibboleths of Non-alignment, Non-alignment 2.0, and crafting a Multipolar World.
India under robust leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recast Indian foreign policy perceptionaly towards convergent substantial Indian Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships with United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. But in tandem this strategically sound adopted course gets muddied by a lingering and reluctant attachment to Russia forcing India to join China-led organisations like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation decidedly confrontational to all of India’s Major Strategic Partnerships.
India as an aspiring Major Power with ambitions to play a decisive role in global geopolitics can hardly afford to display strategic ambiguities in the geopolitical domains.
In the evolving Bipolar World with the exception of the Russia-China Axis all other Major Powers are coalescing towards US-led coalitions, se security organisations and security Trilaterals and Quadrilaterals. The Russia-China Axis counts support only from rogue nuclear states like North Korea and Pakistan, with Iran tilting towards Russia.
Illustratively, to comprehend India’s geopolitically unrealistic foreign policy stances of not giving up its Russia-obsession and having bearing on vital Indian national security interests, one would like the Indian policy establishment to answer the following major questions:
- Can Russia assist India in keeping the Indian Ocean as “Indian” against China’s growing naval intrusiveness to alter the naval balance against India?
- Will Russia restrain China from its acute military escalations on India’s borders with China Occupied Tibet?
- In the event of another China-India War would Russia intervene even notionally against China?
- Can the Russia-China Axis geopolitically and militarily prevail over the United States and its Allies in a global showdown?
The answers to all of the above questions vitally affecting India’s national security is in the NEGATIVE. Russia enfeebled post Ukraine and with heavy dependence on China in all domains is in no position to secure India’s national interests.
Contrarily, the United States and its Allies are the “Natural Allies” of India. Even Pakistan today recognises that India matters for United States. United States will be pushed to tilt to Pakistan once again only by the strategic ambiguities of India’s geopolitical perspectives.
Concluding, it should be abundantly clear that in the evolving Bipolar World there is no bandwidth for countries like India which faces a major implacable enemy China as the dominant partner in Russia-China Axis Dyad and China as the dictating partner in China-Pakistan Axis posing “Dual Front War” threat to India. India has no option but to firmly place itself alongside its “Natural Allies”.