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Taming the American bully

Taming the American bully
Once bitten may not necessarily be twice shy. At least, not the United States of America, the self-appointed global policeman or military bully boasting a record score in failed attempts to set up puppet regimes across the world. As if to prove the old adage that failures are the pillars of success, the US is exploring all the time new areas of military engagement. This time, it is an East European state – Ukraine, once the home of 1,900 Soviet nuclear missiles, third largest after the US and Russia. Missiles were handed back to Russia for dismantling in the mid-1990s in exchange of an external security assurance from the friendly neighbour. Once again, the snooping US has been playing a spoilsport. It is out to prove the famous line of the peremptory norms of the laws of war that if it needs two hands to make a clap, one hand is enough to strike a war. The US has already created a war-like atmosphere in Eastern Europe.

Ever since Ukraine’s exit from the Russian confederation in 1991, the US has been meddling into the affairs of Ukraine with its spy agencies led by the CIA taking an active role in local politics to have a puppet regime there for its strategic presence in the Baltic  to keep a watch on Russia. The result was: Ukraine, instead of turning into a new economic power house true to its potential, became a political hotbed, destroying its well-built industrial infrastructure that made the republic a strong industrial republic under the USSR until the 1991 split. In 2013, Ukraine’s GDP was only $334 billion. Impoverished Ukrainians, who depend on Russia almost entirely for their vital energy needs, aren’t able to take it anymore. They are revolting for political stability, economic growth and jobs. One of its portions, Crimea, chose the referendum route to merge back with Russia a month ago with some 97 per cent approving the merger resolution under its constitution. It was a major setback for the US foreign policy, losing it face among its hi-profile NATO allies. The US has already invoked its notorious ‘sanction’ tool against Russia while fruitlessly trying to gather support from independent Asian powers such as China and India.

Foreign policy experts are warning that the current US-Russia standoff over Ukraine may snowball into a global conflict involving several other countries, including those outside the ambit of what should have been left as an internal matter of the former Soviet federation member, or between the two neighbours that share a common history, culture and a good part of language. A quarter of Ukraine’s population of 44.57 million is Russian speaking. The political turmoil in Ukraine is becoming murkier by the day with the constant intervention, instigation and the threat of a concerted action against Russia by the US and some of its western NATO allies. Other than Russia, Ukraine borders Belarus, Moldovia, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The distance between Washington DC and Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city, is as much as 7,860 kms. Regarded impassionedly, the US has no business to be anywhere near Ukraine. Any political instability in Ukraine may have an impact on some of the countries in Western Europe, but not across the Atlantic. Yet, the US has already initiated controversial punitive economic sanctions against Russia and threatening to act militarily with the NATO force if Russia continues its ‘posturing’ in Ukraine and Belarus.

The downside of the US sanctions is that they are bound to drive Russia towards old Asian allies, China and India to build a formidable economic-military axis in the region with a possibility of their agreeing to even a new financial system and currency. Russia’s massive oil and gas resources and the economic expansion of China and India are something that America’s West European allies can ignore only at their own economic peril. Russia alone can get the economy of the region crippled by cutting down gas supplies. Russia also provides a huge market for EU products and services. Even the American economy will feel the heat if Russia decides to pull back its huge investment in the US financial market, especially in treasury bonds. Such an action has the potential to throw the US into another economic turmoil. Notably, both China and India are moving closer to the Russian position on many major global issues. China and Russia are pushing for an alternative to the IMF and World  Bank and the proposal is expected to get a concrete shape at the July BRICS summit in Brazil. Are the US and EU ready to face the challenge of an alternative financial system in the current global economic environment?

Historically, India enjoyed a very close relationship with Russia since the Soviet Union days. After the USSR’s collapse, the relationship got transformed into an Indo-Russian partnership. The two countries signed a declaration of strategic partnership in 2000 with the aim of consolidating ‘close and friendly ties to mutual benefit’. The strategic partnership comprised five areas: political, counter terrorism cooperation, defence, civil nuclear energy and space. In 2009, India was labeled a constituent of BRIC (BRICS after the inclusion of South Africa) nations, alongside Russia, Brazil and China. Also known as the ‘Big Five’, these nations symbolised an economic shift away from the industrialised G8 from which Russia now stands ousted under the US pressure following Crimea’s merger. India may extend an open support to Russia if the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe turns uglier. Incidentally, China has fully backed Russia for its decision to invade Crimea to protect ethnic Russians in the region. The foreign ministers of the two countries noted the Russian move as ‘the coincidence of positions.’

 Unfortunately, the trigger-happy US administration refuses to learn from its diplomatic and military misadventures in West Asia, North Africa and recent face loss in Syria. Over the last 13 years into the so-called ‘Global War on Terror,’ the United States appears to be striking terror into the hearts of the rest of the world. This is what the Gallup International annual 2012 year-end survey pointed out saying the US is regarded as the number one ‘greatest threat to world peace today’ by people across the globe. The Gallup poll of 67,806 respondents from 65 countries found that the US won this dubious distinction by a landslide. The US was deemed a threat by its geopolitical allies as well as foes, including a significant portion of the US society.

Response from some regions like West Asia and North Africa was predictable. Eastern Europe’s 32 per cent vote against the US might have been influenced by Russia and Ukraine, but across most of Western Europe there are also lots of double-digit angst. In the Americas themselves, decades of US meddling have left an awkward legacy. Its neighbours, Mexico (37 per cent) and Canada (17 per cent), clearly have issues. Even 13 per cent of US citizens see their own country as a danger.  IPA
Nantoo Banerjee

Nantoo Banerjee

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