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Welcome to the new world: a map of the opposing blocks of the XXI century
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 08-03-2018

Russia, China, USA, Europe... Since the end of the cold war dividing line in the world change.

"Atlantico" Washington, Paris and Berlin now jointly put pressure on Russia, Vladimir Putin, to seek a truce in Syria. Thus, they actually recognize Moscow's influence on Damascus. What can we say about changes in the system of "clusters of influence" in the world after the cold war? If during the cold war there was a confrontation between the Western and Soviet blocks, it is now China becomes the third pole of influence on a world scale?

Philip Fabry: I would not say that everything really is OK. Although China is already practical can compete with USA in military and economic terms, in the event of war the two countries, it would be practically all alone, and he would have to deal with formed a coalition of Americans of his concerned neighbors: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, Philippines and possibly India. Even the Europeans probably would have supported America in the framework of NATO, if China attacked the US, in particular on GUAM, to drive them from Asia.

Thus, alone, China cannot be the third pole of influence — just as Russia is not able to be alone the second pole. Despite the efforts of Putin to show (in particular, for example, intervention in Syria) that Russia is a real world power, it is virtually absent in Africa, and its impact in Asia is small. USA is the only country in the world that can be considered a pole in itself. China and Russia is only aspiring to that.

Anyway, with this aim, they certainly formed a common axis (as through bilateral agreements and General organizations like the SCO and the Asian infrastructure investment Bank), to challenge American hegemony, which is condemned under the definition of "unilateralism." In fact, Russia and China hope to be able to work together to undermine the American world order and replace it with a multilateral system that will free their hands for dominance in their zones of influence: Europe and the Mediterranean for Russia, East Pacific and Indian ocean for China. Long-term plans of China is clearly going even further, because the initiative "One belt and one road" XI Jinping aimed at potential dominance in Eurasia. At the same time, long-term geopolitical task of Russia consists in formation in the West of the power center, which should allow it in the future to give back to China.

Florent Parmentier: First of all, it should be recognized that Russian intervention in Syria marked the return of Moscow to the middle East for the last three years. After the conflict in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014) for the first time Russia has tried to go beyond the post-Soviet space, though left Afghanistan in 1979, a deep impression.

Russia has shown itself during the Gulf war in 1991, cooperated on Afghanistan in 2001, was against the conflict in Iraq in 2003, was caught off guard by the Arab spring and was an observer for the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011. Thus, she first took the initiative in the region after 25 years of inactivity. Thus, many are tempted to consider the current rise of tensions as the resumption of the cold war, which can go beyond mutual demonstrations of force.

Anyway, although tensions higher than ever since 1991, the confrontation between blocks is not on the same level as in 1991. Russia — not the Soviet Union and her group of allies are not as great as before. Ideological confrontation is now also much weaker. Though the American establishment is showing open hostility towards Russia — just as the Duma to the United States — there are differences in the interests, and Russia can't offer my system as at the time of the USSR.

It only remains deaf Russian-American rivalry in which both sides are interested in a demonstration of "stiffness", which like their public. This allows them a few to regain the confidence in their own abilities on the background of China's rising power is a threat to US domination and displaces second place Russia.

In addition, the previous hegemony of the two blocs was not absolute. According to the Declaration of 19 July 1956, was formed the non-aligned Movement. The end of the cold war resulted in dramatic geopolitical changes in Europe since the collapse of the Soviet bloc led to the dominance of the "Washington consensus", which is a mixture of privatization of the economy, setting conditions for the provision of international funds and integration into the international economic flows. In Asia it was different. North and South Korea are not United as two in Germany.

Francois Gers: After a short period of a unipolar system that existed after the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has returned to a natural state of inter-state struggle: we are talking about ruthless competition powers. The main question today is who can legally claim the status of great world power.

The slogan of Donald trump's "America first" made me think about the isolationist impulse. Any candidate puts in the first place internal policies and improving the socio-economic situation in the country. Trump was no exception to the rule that acquired US strength requires participation in world Affairs. Trump is trying to do it on the most favourable terms for US interests (at least those that he considers as such). He comes out of the unfavorable, in his view, international agreements like the Pacific free trade area and the Paris climate agreement. In addition, he intends to withdraw from signed in 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. However, he claims that he is ready to negotiate on these agreements. The recently released nuclear doctrine reiterated the support and protection of European and Asian allies. Those in response have to pay more to buy American equipment.

The US is not leaving Afghanistan confirm the presence on the Arabian Peninsula and its support of Israel. They increase the strategy of containment of Iran, which involves the formation of a network of bases in Iraq and Syria. American naval and submarine groups, which still possess an overwhelming advantage, are deployed to counter Beijing's plans in the Philippines and in the Straits of Malacca.

In a recent address to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin announced that his country managed to circumvent the attempts of its containment by the US and its allies. Moscow has ambitious projects such as the formation of a greater Eurasian economic, trade and cultural areas, which should become a counterweight to the EU in the West and China in the East. Anyway, the energy resources are insufficient to implement the project the essential public investments. The power of Russia is not so great, despite its successes in Syria. If you don't count military intervention, it lacks the financial and commercial means in order to gain a firm foothold and form these zones of influence.

Strategy of influence based on propaganda and disinformation encounters strong opposition of Western States. Therefore, Russia has to content with gravity on the orbit of the "near abroad" - Belarus, Moldova, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and, to a lesser extent, Armenia. With the Soviet bloc it is impossible even to compare. Rapprochement with Hungary and Bulgaria could not compensate for the violent rejection of Poland and the Baltic States that have become active members of NATO.

One of the main events of this period was the rise of China to the level of a great world power. Whatever it was, he was suffering from diplomatic isolation, which is exacerbated by the aggressive policy in the South China sea. To remedy this gap, the Chinese government launched in 2014 a large-scale program of world economic cooperation "One belt and one road" that goes from the East coast of China to the mouth of the Rhine. Recently, Beijing has opened a major base in Djibouti, so far only in Africa. Despite economic ties with Pakistan and Myanmar, there is no "Chinese block" does not exist.

— How does the new world map of zones of influence?

Philippe Fabri: At the moment, the enemy of the Russian-Chinese axis are the US. At the global level there is a unit those who in any way accepts American hegemony (Europe, peripheral Asia, South America), and those who oppose it (China and Russia, as well as a number of smaller players like Iran and increasingly manifesting itself in this role, Turkey). India in the early 2000-ies was supported by the majority of Chinese initiatives in the BRICS, but recently decided to change the camp at the sight of how mighty neighbor takes her to the surroundings: just over a month, China moved two of its strategic and historical ally, Nepal and the Maldives. Since it is much closer to US.

Finally, there are controversial areas: Africa, the middle East and, to a lesser extent, Central Asia.

Florent Parmentier: Today, not logic, and logic of multiple alliances. Russia seeks to dominate the post-Soviet space, but its impact is limited to the US and NATO in the West and China in Central Asia. Russia is just one of many players that pushes her to the support of the conflict that arose in 1991 (Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh) and late (Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014).

Capabilities of the United States and Europe in terms of the set rules of the economic game have waned. So, the "big five" 1975 turned into eight with the adoption of Russia in 1997, and then became seven after her graduation in 2014. Now she is no longer able to dictate the rules. The BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) plays an important role at the international level because it represents more than a third of humanity.

There are plenty of alliances, and their configuration is often difficult to perception. The key points also apply to the relations of Russia and the United States, referred to Washington's "rogue States" or the rise of China, which is manifested primarily in the South China sea.

— What changes of alliances were the most noticeable after the collapse of the USSR in December 1991?

Philippe Fabri: first and foremost comes to mind the accession of Eastern European countries to NATO a few years after disbanding the police Department. Anyway, in this case it was rather about the vassals, not allies of the USSR. In any case, I would like to mention three points which, I think, best reflect the changes in the international order. Pakistan, an old ally of America, has now become a vassal of China and a key figure in its strategy to encircle India. Egypt after the coming to power of Marshal al-Sisi launched in the Russian camp after nearly half a century of allied relations with the United States. Finally, Vietnam, the old ally of the Soviet Union and the symbolic enemy of the US and its "Imperial" ambitions, has now become America's ally against China. Three of these examples perfectly demonstrate how much has changed alignment.

This also could include Turkey, but her recent behavior raises another problem in addition to changing Alliance: it is about turning a reliable ally in almost of the enemy, which still keeps the status of an ally, but does not inspire much confidence even a new prospective partner, i.e. Russia. Today Turkey Erdogan is reminiscent of the Stalinist Soviet Union of the 1930-ies, who are courted by other countries or allowed them to groom themselves in the desire to benefit without the formation of an Alliance. In the end, it really cost him dearly.

Florent Parmentier: the Most significant change of alliances occurred in Europe currently the enlargement of NATO and the EU is a firmly established fact. Despite the rapprochement between Russia and some NATO members like Hungary and Turkey, nobody now can imagine the withdrawal from NATO or the EU. The formation of "illiberal democracy" in Poland and Hungary does not mean that these countries can overcome the current associations. Thus, the American presence in Europe is stable, while Donald trump and called NATO "legacy".

The second shift of the Alliance for rapprochement between Russia and China. First, China was a partner of the USSR, but then moved away from him (the departure of the Soviet representatives, border war in the Ussuri Krai in 1969). The convergence first began in the Gorbachev period and acquired a concrete shape in 1996 with the formation of the SCO. First, the organization was limited to China and part of the former Soviet Union, however, subsequently absorbed India and Pakistan in July 2015.

Francois Gers: NATO Expansion at the end of the cold war has led the Alliance directly to the borders of Russia. The United States also has expanded the network of alliances with the States of the Arabian Peninsula after the first war in Iraq. In addition, we are talking about expanding existing alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia. Neither Russia nor China were able to form so strong system. The SCO brings together the Central Asian countries around China and Russia and represents the organization with a fairly weak ties, which is aimed at promoting trade and the fight against terrorism and smuggling, including drugs.

Are the current units at the regional level?

Philippe Fabri: Iran has formed a unit from Syria, Iraq, Lebanese Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis. It thrives in the shadows of the Russian-Chinese axis. Parallel block is formed by the enemies of Iran led by Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is possible that North Africa is formed of the Pro-Russian bloc from Egypt and part of Libya, which is under the control of Marshal of the Haftarot. It can also absorb Algeria. In Asia, you may receive an anti-China bloc under the auspices of the United States, which, after several decades of inactivity has revitalized the Quadrilateral security dialogue, which includes America, Japan, Australia and India.

Florent Parmentier: of Course, after the cold war were formed and other groups. Non-aligned had to find a new course, once their former position could no longer hide the differences of interests and views on the international order. In South America formed the Bolivarian trend around Hugo Chavez, who announced the desire of South American countries to independence from the United States around the common market of MERCOSUR.

Gulf countries, African Union, ASEAN (Southeast Asia), Visegrad group (Central Europe), the silk road (China) and the growth Corridor of Asia-Africa (India) — they are all in varying degrees have gone the way of forming associations. Now is not the period of cohesive blocks, and multilateral initiatives that reflect the growing geopolitical diversification of international relations.

Francois Gers: Some States are not global ambition, but still aspire to the creation of regional spheres of influence based on nationalist or religious ideology. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc in Turkey decided that the time has come for the formation of the Turkish cultural space with the involvement of Turkmens, Uighurs and Mongols. She faced not only opposition from regional powers, but also lack of funds for necessary road and rail infrastructure. The same applies to Iran, which is still too weak to create a strong Shiite axis. He has a point position in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. The present military successes of Iran in Syria create an expectation for the promotion of its influence to the Mediterranean region. Anyway, the obstacles are too numerous and serious to Tehran could claim hegemony.

Philippe Fabry (Fabry Philippe), François Gers (François Géré), Florent Parmentier


Tags: Russia , USA , Europe , China

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