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Cold War 2.0 Lineup Of Opposing Power Blocs In 2021 – Analysis

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On the verge of 2022, wherein portents indicate that Communist China will militarily challenge and test United States resolve to defend Taiwan, wherein Communist China is seemingly involved in major conflict-escalation with US-led QUAD Security Dialogue Nations — India, Japan & Australia, and wherein China-Russia Communist Strategic Nexus is unmistakeably provocatively in power-play — what is evidently on display is a Cold War 2.0 line-up of two opposing ‘Power Blocs’.

Cold War 1.0 was the outcome of Former USSR as the Communist military behemoth occupying whole of Eastern Europe in final stages of World War II victory alongside United States & Allies. Cold War 2.0 yet stands inflicted once again by another Communist behemoth — Communist China with a Hitlerian over-sized military machine created in first two decades of 21st Century due to United States default of being distracted in Iraq & Afghanistan. Communist China under President Xi Jinping is obsessed with inflicting Chinese writ on Indo Pacific at the cost of the United States and Major Asian Powers like India and Japan Australia too.

Strategic commentariat in Western democracies fed by Communist China on its peaceful rise intentions would howl at my assertion that in 2021 because of Communist China’s military adventurism the global community currently stands divided into two opposing ‘Power Blocs’ reminiscent of Cold War1.0.

The stark strategic reality is that in end of the second decade of 21st Century the Indo Pacific has emerged as the centre of gravity of global geopolitical and strategic rivalries dynamics. The stark reality is also that in Indo Pacific lie the most glaring fault-lines and incendiary flash-points where even a slight miscalculated strategic over-reach by Communist China can ignite World War III.

Let it be recorded for history that if Communist China had been checkmated by United States and Major Powers on its exponential military buildup during the years of 2001-20, Communist China would not have emerged as United States ‘Prime Military Threat’. Let it also be recorded that it was the greed of American industrial giants to tap the vast Chinese market that led to large scale infusion of US FDI in China which not only fuelled Communist China’s phenomenal economic growth but the same provided vast funds to subsidise Communist China’s exponential military rise.

The United States created the Communist China as Indo Pacific’s ‘Most Menacing Tiger’ and ironically in 2021 it has now befallen on United Sates in coalition with Major Powers to “Contain & Tame” this Menacing Communist China Tiger.

On the verge of 2022, it would be pertinent to analyse the available indicators of Cold War 2.0 geopolitical and Communist China-centric security oriented line-up of opposing Nations—the evidently Communist Bloc with Communist China in the lead and the US-led ‘Coalition of Democracies’.

The China-Russia Strategic Nexus which can be designated as the Communist Bloc of Cold War 2.0 has been taking shape ever since mid-2000s. Russia impelled by lack of substantive reset of US policies towards Russia by successive US Administrations gravitated towards Communist China for geopolitical and economic reasons.

Russia may not have gravitated towards Communist China, despite lack of US-policy reset, if Major European Powers like Germany and France had integrated Russia into European geopolitical dynamics.

Apparently, at that time perceptionaly, Russia seemed to be the B-Team of Communist China due to China’s economic strengths. In 2021-end with Communist China’s economic dominance down-sliding, the China-Russia Strategic Nexus has emerged as a more balanced strategic equation. The strategic potency of the Communist Bloc of China-Russia Strategic Nexus rests on two major factors when compared to US-led ‘Coalition of Democracies’

Both China and Russia have at their disposal two over-sized military machines backed by comparable nuclear weapons, ICBMs, nuclear attack submarines. Both Communist China and Russia have sizeable Air Forces and Blue Water Navies.

Force multiplication takes place for China-Russia Strategic Nexus when the geographical expanse that they encompass of the Eurasian Heartland is added to their military machines.

Because of the above two factors, coupled with past United States ‘China Hedging’  and marked ‘Risk Aversion’ stances on Communist China during years 2001-2016, Communist China stood emboldened to indulge on predatory military adventurism from India’s Eastern Ladakh to Japanese Senkaku Islands and ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ of South China Sea.

Today, in sheer balance of power military power-play Russia is getting more intertwined in the China-Russia Strategic Nexus. This Nexus in 2022 must be for all practical purposes be considered as a full-fledged ‘Military Alliance’ going by intensity of China-Russia Joint Naval Exercises in Sea of Japan and Joint China-Russia Combat Air Patrols —- all militarily provocative activities against United States sheet anchor of Western Pacific security, namely Japan.

Russia’s changed geopolitical stances in South Asia against India with its deepening US-India Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership are provocative against India. Russia’s marked tilt towards Pakistan an studied silence on Communist China’s continuing military aggression on India’s Himalayan Borders with China Occupied Tibet are ominous signals. So was Russia’s sustained effort to side-line India from all its Afghanistan parleys— something I have termed for last couple of years as China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral.

The Cold War 2.0 Coalition of Democracies today can be exemplified by the resurrection of the 2007 dormant QUAD Security Dialogue and the recent AUKUS—the evolving Trinity of Nuclear Submarines Nations. Semantics and splitting hairs on intent of QUAD and AUKUS is strategically meaningless.

 In blunt strategic and military terms, both QUAD and AUKUS are China-centric security groupings—– QUAD with a wider geopolitical canvas permitting future absorption of fence-sitters like ASEAN and AUKUS a decidedly nuclear submarines deterrent which shall prowl on China’s maritime littoral.

NATO and European Union can be seen as potential entities to be incorporated in varying combinations in either QUAD or AUKUS in not too distant future.

 Analysts opine that AUKUS would not be fully operational for another 10 years until Australia is equipped with its six nuclear powered submarines to be constructed. As often it has happened in history, would it take long for the United States to transfer ‘on lease’ some nuclear powered submarines if China’s provocations in Western Pacific become more threatening?

In terms of sheer balance of power military and economic strengths, it can  safely be asserted that the China-Russia Strategic Nexus or the Communist Bloc is outweighed by the Coalition of Democracies.

Notably, Communist China has no ‘Natural Allies’ other than Pakistan and North Korea. Russia is likely to lose even its traditional satellites of Central Asia Republics sheerly because of Russian kow-towing to China’s strategic priorities in its confrontation with United States. NO accretions can be expected to China-Russia strategic Nexus.

Comparatively, as stated above, the Coalition of Democracies exemplified by QUAD and AUKUS can expect willing accretions both in Indo Pacific like ASEAN and in Middle East and Europe.

Concluding, the historical analysis of the lessons of Cold War 1.0 would indicate that Communist China stands no chance against the Coalition of Democracies. China’s impending political and economic implosion should logically stop Communist China from what is evidently a path of destruction and disintegration like the Former Soviet Union in Cold War 1.0. But then like Hitler, Communist China’s megalomaniac President Xi Jinping can be expected to defy ‘strategic logic’ in the pursuit of his ‘Grandiose Great China Dream’

Russia opting out of China-Russia Strategic Nexus could help containment of Communist China. But will Russia do so, is the million dollars question?

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Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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