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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS: A global order caught up in a swirl of chaos

Prelims: Current events of international importance (Russia-Ukraine war, NATO, AUKUS, QUAD, Partners in Blue Pacific, Abraham Accords)

Mains GS Paper II: International relation, India –EU relation, Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India’S Interests

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • This article highlights the chaos in geopolitics in the 21st century. It also highlights the emerging challenges in India’s foreign policy and the dominance of China in setting the agenda for global geopolitics.

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

European Geopolitics-

‘Europe’- a ship without captain:

  • Inexperienced German captain: Germany, which has steered European politics for almost two decades under Angela Merkel, now has a Chancellor (Olaf Scholz) who has hardly any foreign policy experience.
    • Without Germany’s steadying hand, Europe would be virtually adrift in troubled waters.
  • French Question: Emmanuel Macron may have been re-elected as the President of France, but his wings have been clipped with the Opposition now gaining a majority in the French National Assembly, damaging his image.
    • Thus, Mr Macron can hardly be expected to provide the kind of leadership that Europe needs at present.
  • Crisis in the UK: The United Kingdom is in deep trouble, if not disarray.

Consequently, at a time when actual and moral issues require both deft and firm handling, Europe appears rudderless.

Negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict

  • Impact on global supply chain: The Russia-Ukraine war is having an outsized impact on the global supply chain
    • impeding the flow of goods
    • fueling dramatic cost increases and product shortages
    • creating catastrophic food shortages around the world, particularly acute in low-income countries in Africa. Given that Ukraine and Russia were generally viewed as the granaries of the world
    • Refugee crisis: Some6 million people — the bulk of them women and children — have fled Ukraine since the war began.
    • Foreign exchange crisis: Apart from this, nations do face several other problems as well, including, in some cases, a foreign exchange crisis.
      • Many of these problems may have existed earlier but have been aggravated by the ongoing conflict.
      • The impact is being felt now well beyond Europe.

Emerging issues which can alter world governance

  • China-Russia relation: China and Russia appear to have further cemented their relationship and the situation is shifting towards a formal alliance.
    • China’s growing influence in the Pacific region, including in the Indo-Pacific, is further strengthened by the alliance with Russia.
  • Changing nature of the relationship in Asia:
    • No unity of purpose in Asia: Unlike the unity and the strength displayed by European nations — backed by the U.S. and NATO — to checkmate Russia, there is no evidence of any such unity of purpose in the event that China was to launch a conflict with Taiwan.
  • Churn in West Asia:
    • The Abraham Accords in 2020, which brought about the entente between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, has been the harbinger of certain new trends in the tangled web of relationships among countries of West Asia.
    • Iran as fulcrum: China and Russia are continuously trying to firm their relation with West Asia and with Iran in particular, even when U.S.’s relations with Arab nations appear to weaken.

Challenges for India:

  • Uncertainty with Russia and China: India cannot ignore the situation created by the stronger bonds between Russia and China.
    • While relations with China may continue to remain uncertain and unsatisfactory (for some time at least), India will need to determine whether Russia can be expected to play a role as a ‘trusted friend’ of India.
  • Quad uncertainty: Again, it would be too much to hope that in dealing with China, India can expect the same kind of support it may need from the Quad.
  • China sidelining India: China seems intent on establishing its dominance and also sidelining India in Asia, which New Delhi would have discerned in the course of the virtual BRICS Summit hosted by China in June.
  • Afghanistan challenge: India also urgently needs to come to terms with a Taliban Afghanistan, removing its previous policy of ‘no negotiation’ with the Taliban is as yet in a very nascent stage.
    • Time is, however, of the essence.
  • India’s relation with West Asia: India has been making steady progress in enlarging its contacts and influence in West Asia.
    • However, in recent years, India-Iran relations seem to have reached a stalemate of late.
    • I2U2: India has been inveigled into joining a U.S.-based group, the I2U2, comprising India, Israel the UAE and the U.S. which would be like QUAD for West Asia.
      • Details of the new arrangements are unclear, but it is evident that the target is Iran, as China is for the Quad, injecting yet another element of uncertainty into an already troubled region.
    • Emerging challenge from Srilanka: At this time, the democratic upsurge in Sri Lanka which has resulted in the removal of the Rajapaksas from power, presents India with a fresh set of problems.
      • There is every reason for concern that even governments that have maintained a ‘hands-off’ relationship could become targets of the new forces emerging in Sri Lanka.
      • There are also aspects of the Sinhala ‘Janata Aragalaya’ that need to be carefully studied, to ensure that its advent does not result in the emergence of an anti-India atmosphere in Sri Lanka.

Nuclear deterrence implications

  • India’s Nuclear deterrence: Wide gap exists today in regard to China and India’s nuclear deterrent capabilities, and US strategist implicitly blames India for its voluntary ban on testing and its ‘no-first-use’ doctrine for making progress in this arena.

Conclusion

The view of geopolitical experts in the west is myopic since the Ukraine-Russia conflict is only one of the many strands altering the contours of world governance and there are many other significant developments taking place in many other regions of the globe, which will have equal if not more relevance to the future of the international governance system.