Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Facing Western Supremacy (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

NEW DELHI, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The foreign ministers of the three giants of the Asian landmass -- Russia, China and India -- will meet Feb. 14 in New Delhi to advance an old proposal for a Trilateral Global Alliance that would effectively exclude the West from a position of superiority in Asia, before achieving the same purpose in Africa and South America.
Although at present only a gleam in the eye of geopoliticians, the TGA has made enough progress in the past two years to indicate that within the next three, a framework agreement could be signed by the three heads of government that would codify the principles and objectives of this partnership aimed at limiting Western power.
It is interesting to note that European powers all won special advantages in the rest of the world not by peaceful cooperation, but by conquest. This is perhaps the reason why soldiers, sailors and airmen play a much bigger role in Western "diplomacy" than diplomats themselves.
Australia, for example, has now joined hands with New Zealand in sending armed troops to small island countries near them, in order to enforce their will over the peoples there. So dominating is Australia that even the present Timorese leadership -- the recipient of huge funds and other aid from Canberra in its long battle against Indonesia -- has now sought to distance itself from a country that seems determined to rule the territory by the gun.

In Africa, there have been dozens of cases of armed intervention by France, always to protect the local, France-dominated elites from accountability and loss of power. In Venezuela, it is no secret that Washington repeated its method of dealing with former President Salvador Allende in Chile -- seeking to use local partners to force the ouster of President Hugo Chavez, who seeks to dilute the influence of Europeanist elites that for centuries have drained almost 90 percent of the wealth of the continent while accounting for less than 10 percent of the population.

Similarly, in Iraq, U.S. and British forces routinely arrest even ministers in the elected government of Iraq and diplomats who should be protected from such arbitrary action according to international law and practice. The Western world has, for the past five centuries up to the present, relied on tooth and claw to create and retain its supremacy. This state of affairs is unacceptable to Moscow and Beijing, and in time, possibly to New Delhi as well.
Although the Russian people look "European," the fact is that they are separate culturally from Europe. They have their own mindset, traditions and values, and hence will always be opposed, silently or overtly, by continental European powers such as Germany and France, which recognize Russia as not only different, but with the potential to overshadow both of them, should Moscow ever be admitted into the European Union.
After years of seeking to become "good Europeans" by leaving behind their Russian heritage -- a process that began with Mikhail Gorbachev and lasted even into the Putin presidency -- the Russian leadership has finally realized that the major continental European powers have zero intention of giving parity, let alone primacy, to Moscow. Hence, President Vladimir Putin has focused as much on Asia as on Europe, and with far better results than from his several failed efforts at integration into Europe. This has opened the way for an India-China-Russia alliance.
In the case of China, both Mao Zedong -- under whose leadership China "stood up" in 1949 after centuries of servitude -- and Deng Xiaoping understood that a relationship with the Western world could only be tactical and temporary, and that finally the clash of interests would lead to tensions. However there were others who sought to create an equitable partnership with the West, especially the United States, much as Putin tried in his first years in power. Today, the strong leadership of President Hu Jintao has clearly recognized that: a) China needs to rely on its own strength first; and b) the best way of developing this power is through a partnership with India and Russia.
In the next round, Iran and Indonesia would enter as partners within the TGA, followed by some key countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and a peacefully unified, nuclear-armed Korea. The TGA would have an Asian membership, but global influence, even in Phase I, when only Russia, China and India would be members. Phase II would see the entry of other Asian powers, while Phase III would witness the entry of selected countries in South America, such as Brazil, and Africa, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
The change in attitude by both the Chinese and Russian leaderships toward the Western world is the engine driving forward this partnership. In the case of India, after six decades of conducting a foreign policy independent of the West, now a team similar to Boris Yeltsin's is in office in New Delhi, for whom the only desirable path is accommodation with Western demands.
China went through such a phase during the Jiang Zemin period, while Russia's similar period lasted from 1985 till 2003. That year Moscow realized that the policy of the continental European powers was to cut away at its relationships and sphere of influence, so that finally Moscow would become as irrelevant in Europe as Belgium, a country with which it is often compared in economic terms.
The reality is that Russia possesses a single item -- its nuclear and missile arsenal -- that gives the country greater weight than Germany, France and Italy combined. The same goes for China. India is thus far a relative pygmy in the strategic field, although the scientific base of the country is strong enough to close this gap within six to seven years, should the political leadership decide on such a course.
Since the mid-1990s, several within the Indian strategic establishment -- including this writer -- believed the Western world would be farsighted enough to make India a partner on terms of parity. However, many are now veering to the view that the Western world still sees India much as the British did in the past, as a secondary power that ought to be satisfied with crumbs.
This refusal of the Western alliance to acknowledge the equality of China, Russia and India with themselves is the reason the years ahead are likely to witness the birth of an India-China-Russia global alliance that would soon become the biggest geopolitical factor in Asia, and then in Africa and South America.
This is the future that may be in the process of creation when the foreign ministers of three countries that comprise 40 percent of the world's population meet in New Delhi.
-(Professor M.D. Nalapat is director of the School of Geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India.)

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