Big Kids On The Block

Hence, Europe is very much caught in the crosshairs of “Great-Power Diplomacy” between America, Russia, and China, and if the interests of these three major powers do not align, then Europe will be dealt a heavy blow economically and perhaps even militarily. As Sir Winston Churchill said after World War II: “The only hope for the world is the agreement of the Great Powers.” Churchill added: “If they quarrel, our children will be undone.”

Also, even as the cyber and psychological dimensions of warfare have increased in importance over the course of the last few years, the conventional and nuclear dimensions of warfare are still very much relevant to a state’s strategy. Russia has conducted flyovers over Europe, which have reached as far as Brussels and Lisbon since the political upheaval in Ukraine in 2014. Nuclear power also adds the element of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD) to the strategic calculus of both NATO and Russia. As a result, any conventional military action on the part of Russia will figure into a strategic context defined by “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD) and complemented by both cyber and psychological dimensions.

According to the international law scholar David Bosco, Russia and China have a common goal, namely, to undo the status quo of America as the preponderant power in international affairs. Bosco wrote: “At times, Moscow and Beijing have linked arms in their effort to counter American ascendancy, and they share a rudimentary geopolitical ideology that emphasizes state sovereignty and nonintervention and downplays many Western concerns, including human rights, democratization, and nonproliferation.” Bosco suggested that diplomacy through the ‘United Nations Security Council’ (UNSC) would be important in diffusing tensions that would lead to conflict between the major powers. Bosco added: “Ensuring that these differences do not become conflicts will require constant vigilance, and the council can be a vital forum for that effort.”

But the UNSC has proven to be a marginal factor in the overall dynamics between the three major powers. As mentioned before, the defining factor in the dynamics and the relations between the three major powers are the main interests of the three major powers, and at the moment, the interests do not align. As mentioned in the previous blog post, Russia’s main interest is to push American weapons and military equipment away from its borders, whereas America’s main interest is to push weapons and military equipment towards Russia’s borders, given that almost 50 percent of American exports are weapons and military equipment. Somewhere between 70 to 80 percent of America’s budget goes to the military and weapons.

In a sense, the kingmaker in all of this is China. But as things stand, China is very much supportive of Russia and Russia’s stance on the entire situation. China sees Russia’s security concerns as legitimate. Whereas China threw its weight behind America in the latter stage of the ‘Cold War’ in the 1980’s to help decide the conflict, China is now throwing its weight behind Russia, and this decision can very much decide the outcome of the standoff between the United States and Russia at the moment. One would be remiss to ignore what China wants out of this complex situation. Nevertheless, the issue is quite fascinating, and it remains to be seen whether major power diplomacy can avert what would otherwise amount to complex and high-stakes warfare between the major powers.

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