A Nuclear War Is Closer Than Ever – OpEd
The Ukraine war and the conflict between Russia and the West have literally dragged the whole world into a hot war. This chaos has violated the international order and forced Washington and Moscow to take on new strategies in response to systematic military developments. The main indicator of this strategy is the United States’ frustration in maintaining the current order and the world’s peace and security. This issue has affected the stability in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.
The United States, as the controller of Russia’s military power, is currently pursuing a restraining order model whose rules are different from the rules of the previous hegemonic order model, and unlike the past, the United States, regardless of diplomatic and economic relations, plays a fundamental role in applying the “threat power equation” against future competitors and challengers.
Although the west has viewed Russia and particularly China as the trade partners, from now on “political and economic NATO” will determine the type of relations. The Western alliance has given up on the economic benefits of Russia and is preparing for a long war by sending the most advanced military equipment to Ukraine. The trouble is that a country without the support of the Western security model can no longer feel safe. Therefore, the West will not stop supporting Ukraine and will prolong the war to achieve its goals and revive its hegemonic position.
In other words, Ukraine has become a platform for America and Europe to threaten rival countries. In fact, with the decline of the American hegemony, new challengers entered the field of competition. This is where the “restraining order” is formed. In the “restraining order” model, the system is controlled by the two elements of deterrence and balancing. Deterrence levers are strengthened to protect themselves and regional allies, and the balancing policy controls the challengers of subordinate regions. Therefore, it can be seen that the United States National Security Strategy document (December 2017) and the National Defense Strategy document (January 2018) emphasize balancing and the 2018 Nuclear Arrangement Review document emphasizes direct deterrence.
In the western coalition’s approach, the “equation of threat power” should create a structure to guarantee peace and security in order to put aside the era after the Second World War and the Cold War, and not only to contain rival and disturbing countries but even to attack them militarily. In the United States’ new definition of the right to power, as long as China and Russia have veto rights like the US and are able to prevent any effective action in line with the interests of the West, the Security Council, the United Nations, and other international institutions cannot have a constructive role.
In fact, the new definition of power gives the US and its allies the right to pursue their goals through an economy-guided military power in order to establish a stronger global alliance against Moscow and Beijing, as well as countries such as Iran and Venezuela. In other words, the new political and economic NATO has undertaken new global tasks and is monitoring Russia and China as the greatest threats.
In fact, in a world where other powerful countries are striving for multilateralism, the US and Europe are seeking to ensure that the future world order belongs to them by globalizing the duties and obligations of NATO and the Group of Seven. The unwavering financial and military support to Ukraine, as well as attempts to arm Taiwan with nuclear weapons indicate that the West’s reliance on military force and power are concrete examples of a threat power strategy. In the modern approach of the West, the nonmilitary components of power, including smart sanctions, are also used and have a fundamental role in the exercise of the right to power.
In the new restraining order as the hegemon’s power decreases its military threat increases. In other words, the weakened hegemonic power changes its strategy from indirect interventions like stimulating public discontent and riots to direct military interventions. After its hegemonic decline, the US tries to isolate or contain its rival countries based on the “threat power equation”. According to this equation, Russia is the target country in the world, Iran is the target country in the Middle East, and China is the target country in East Asia. The formation of the Western alliance against Russia in the Ukraine war is in line with the balancing policy of the United States as a future restraining order which changed the conditions of the war in favor of Kyiv and destabilized China’s security environment.
The equation of threat power or restraining order has not started since the war in Ukraine. For example, Rishi Sunak, the UK’s Prime Minister, as a representative of the Conservative Party, in 2017, under the title Undersea Cables, indispensable, insecure, in his 48-page article presented the Policy Exchange and discussed various concerns about the disruption of undersea cables by Russia and how to deal with it.
Russia and China have not been passive either. Putin accused the West of playing a “dangerous, dirty and bloody” geopolitical game against Ukraine and warned that the world is facing the biggest security threat since the defeat of Nazism in Germany. Speaking at the Valdai meeting entitled “post-dominion world on justice and security for all”, Putin said that Western countries and the new centers of the multipolar world order should sooner or later start fair talks about the common future, and the sooner it happens the better. Some Russian officials, like Medvedev, refer to the war in Ukraine as a holy conflict with the Great Satan. He recently threatened that Moscow can send all its enemies to the eternal fire of hell with nuclear weapons.
In the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, many figures and experts on the market economy or pro-Western trends were left behind. This was followed by the controversial move of President Xi wearing a military uniform while visiting the Army Joint Operations Command Center and deeming a military attack on Taiwan probable in the near future. From Beijing’s point of view, the possibility of a military conflict between the US and China regarding the issue of Taiwan is highly likely.
Since great powers care more about their credibility than the cost and benefits of war in confrontation with each other, the danger of using nuclear weapons among the superpowers seems to be high. Recently, SIPRI Peace Institute emphasized that all the nuclear powers have put their nuclear reserves under modernization and technical development programs. SIPRI confidently indicated that the next decade will be the decade of a nuclear arms race.
Even in the recent meeting between German chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Xi, both sides were of the opinion that nuclear threats against Ukraine would be “irresponsible and extremely dangerous”. He asked China to use its influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine and prevent a nuclear crisis in the world.
All in all, the threat power equation that should have guaranteed the security of the world has turned into a stimulator of a nuclear war, the first victim of which is Europe which is located between two major nuclear powers.