Friday, May 31, 2024 | 05:38 WIB

The Cold War Has Ended, A Multi Polar War is Replacing It

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Most historians agree that the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in December of 1989, yet the elites of American diplomacy and foreign policy do not seem to grasp this quite simple fact.

Jakarta, IO – Karl Von Clausewitz, who wrote the book “On War”, once opined “war is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means.” If that is so, then politics in not merely a violent act, but a real organized violence instrument, a continuation of violent behavior, a carrying out of the same by other means, must be true as well. 

Most historians agree that the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in December of 1989, yet the elites of American diplomacy and foreign policy do not seem to grasp this quite simple fact. From the end of World War Two, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the titanic struggle between the United States and the then Union of Soviet Republic dominated the world’s international scene. This struggle differed from other contests in history in that the conflict was not based on a struggle for raw materials or for land and riches, it was a struggle between two vastly different economic systems, capitalism versus communism. That struggle is over, and it has been over for 35 years. Yet the diplomacy of the United States has continued to operate as if the cold war never ended. A new global multi-balance of power political environment is emerging, and the United States diplomacy must change to meet these new challenges. 

With the echoes of the endless wars in its wake, the United States has come to the point where its “uni-polarity moment” is also in the past. While still an economic, political, and military power, its main competitor Russia, has been able to withstand the economic sanctions placed on it because of its aggression against Ukraine. 

With its ability to evade western sanctions, especially in the matter of oil exports to India, China, Europe and the United States, Russia’s economy, though hobbled by these sanctions, has been able to survive, and to press its current advantage on the battlefield in Ukraine funded by the sale of its oil. 

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that the Russian economy will grow by 2.6 percent i 2024. Clearly western sanctions are not working. Now, that the Russian presidential election is over, and Putin has solidified his hold on power, Russia’s next moves will be forming alliances in eastern Europe where he has already had some success. Witness Slovakia, witness Hungary. 

Putin has already put Russia’s economy on a war footing, while members of NATO continue to struggle to meet their GDP goal 2% goal of military spending. 

With the United States facing serious challenges throughout the world, especially in Asia, the United States no longer has the amount of military power to prevail in a global conflict by itself. And to prevent that global conflict, it would behoove the United States to adopt a balance of power diplomacy with countries that ensures the ability of the United States to prevail in such a global conflict. 

The US Defense Budget 

The defense budget for the United States in fiscal year 2024 is $825 billion. The defense budget for fiscal year 2023 was $816.7 billion. This is less than a 1% increase. The inflation rate for fiscal 2023 was 3.4%. While the current defense budget is huge, it is less than the 2023 defense budget, once inflation is factored in. 

$551 billion goes to total military compensation. Which means 73% of the budget goes to compensation, and only 27% goes to the purchase of weapons and munitions. In the event of a major conflict, the ability of the United States to fund a war with sharp increases in expenditures must be questioned. By adopting a balance of power strategy, the United States would be able to use the assistance of allied forces as a force multiplier and prevail in such a conflict. 

The AUKUS is Building a Favorable Balance of Power in Asia 

The AUKUS trilateral defense agreement is defined by cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in providing nuclear powered submarines to Australia. Japan and Canada are both in talks for these countries to join AUKUS. 

Pillar One of the AUKUS agreement covers the agreement for nuclear submarines. Pillar Two envisions the three countries developing advanced military technology and sharing it. Pillar Two has always envisioned that it would expand to include other nations concerned with rising instability in the Indo-Pacific region. South Korea and New Zealand have also expressed interest in joining the current AUKUS agreement. 

Alongside the growing AUKUS agreement, the Quad, which includes India, the United States, Australia and Japan, while not a formal security agreement, has aligned these countries in acting in concert to counter the growing military threat of China. It however takes political will to counter China’s aggression. So far, that will appears to be lacking in the Biden Administration. Witness the Sierra Madre, witness the Scarborough Shoals. 

A Balance of Power in Europe 

The United States needs to step aside from being the guarantor of European security. While the United States should not withdraw from NATO, and it should continue its policy of providing a nuclear umbrella over Europe. The United States should be able to deploy combat forces to Europe with a minimum of two armored divisions and 1 mechanized infantry division. 

That said, Germany and France should act in concert in developing a military force strong enough to deter outside aggression. They are the two most economically and militarily capable powers in Europe, and they should take the lead in preparing Europe to be able to take the lead in any future conflict that threatens Europe’s independence and freedom, with adequate assistance from the United States. But there are fissures in the E.U. between France and Germany. 

One of the cherished goals of many influential Germans is the policy of a trade route that begins in Asia and ends in western Europe. This is called Ost-Ausschuss, and the current Prime Minister of Germany is a fervent believer in this trade route. While France has taken a more militant approach to the war in Ukraine, even calling for the introduction of western combat troops to Ukraine, Germany has been more circumspect. 

German Prime Minister Scholz has recently refused to send the German Taurus missile to Ukraine. Germany has made vague references to a new “capability coalition to prepare supplies of long-range missiles.” The leaders of both nations papered over their differences in a recent March 15th meeting, but the tension between the two countries over Ukraine cannot be denied. 

While the United States can work with a united Europe, it would be difficult to form a coalition if there were serious tensions between the two major powers of Europe. 

Read: Ensuring A Safe Eid Al-Fitr Homecoming

While the United States should try and work within NATO, it should be prepared to seek “understandings” with nations who would work with the United States to maintain peace through other means if there is a rupture in NATO. The United Kingdom, the Baltic nations, Poland, France, Italy and Turkey come to mind. However, at the end of the day, the United States does not have the national security interests in Europe as it did during the Cold War. That said, the United States has better economic opportunities elsewhere. 

The United States has economic opportunities in Asia and opportunities in helping to develop the economies on the American continent. It is in these two areas that will benefit the American economy, as well as the national security interests of the United States.


Richard E. Caroll is a retired economist, and a retired soldier, holds a degree in Economics and a degree in Liberal Arts. While in the military his specialty was in Intelligence and Administration.

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