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The (im)balance of power

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Written by   178
4 months ago
Topics: Reflections, Society

I started writing this piece a while ago but never got to finishing it. But in the light of recent occurrences on the world stage especially the ongoing faceoff between Russia and Ukraine, I felt compelled to complete it. Perhaps it may give some readers the much sought clarity as to how events will eventually play out. Some have expressed fear that the conflict may spiral into a conflict of global proportions culminating in the much dreaded third world war or WW III. I am however of a different view that it will not escalate to that extent but we may eventually see an expansion in the sphere of influence of the Russian Federation across Europe.

It is common knowledge in diplomatic circles that most if not virtually all nations put their national interests first even in the face of conflicting collective interests. Such that some nations are willing to strike a deal with the devil himself if it were possible to achieve their goals or serve their interests at the peril of the collective good of other nations of the world. Global alliances for the collective good which seemed so solid may be shattered in the twinkle of an eye, if any nation feels that it would gain more if it is no longer part of such an alliance.

It was therefore not surprising to hear the proclamation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) that it would not be having boots on the ground to halt the progress of the Russian troops towards the capital of Ukraine. The reason is quite obvious. Too many member countries of NATO are dependent on "mother" Russia for certain supplies which are pivotal for the running of their economies, the most vital one being energy in the form of gas supplies.

As former U.S President Donald Trump aptly put it doesn't make any sense for the United States to be spending lots of money protecting NATO members from Russia, while these same countries are solely dependent on Russia for virtually all of their energy needs. He cautioned that something needed to be done about it, but apparently he wasn't taken seriously and here we are today.

Besides those who were hoping to see NATO invoke article 5 of its charter (summarised simply, an attack on one, is an attack on all) were probably misinformed for obvious reasons. Ukraine is not a member of NATO yet hence the requirement of article 5 for all NATO members to respond to acts of aggression against any of its members does not apply. However, even if it were to apply, although the article has provisions for military intervention, it gives individual members lots of latitude as to what they would deem the most appropriate way to respond to an attack on a member of NATO. So you may see a scenario where most member countries would attempt to avoid using the military option especially against a powerful adversary such as the Russian State.

Little wonder that there is a common saying in international diplomacy that there are no permanent friends but permanent interests. The powerful nations of the world can exert undue influence on the policies of less powerful or underdeveloped nations by flexing their economic or military muscles. The prospect of being at the receiving end of such power, more often than not forces less endowed nations to retreat or back pedal in enforcing policies which ordinarily would have benefited her citizens but will not go down well with the more powerful nations.

On rare occasions do we see smaller or less powerful nations sticking to their guns and daring the powerful nations. This is especially possible when the latter is not a benefactor to the former. In international politics or relations, the concept of right or wrong is almost non-existent as nation states do only what they feel is in their interests irrespective of whether such actions are ok in the scales of morality.

While the Ukrainian government is declaring the acts of Russia as an armed invasion of an independent State which ought to be condemned by all, Russia and her allies are saying otherwise. The Russian position is that it is securing the greater motherland including States allied to it from a possible threat posed by Ukraine joining NATO and what it terms acts of aggression by the Ukrainian State against breakaway regions which are loyal to Russia. Each side claims it is exercising its legitimate right to defend itself or protect her national interests. This is where international politics gets tricky and murky as it is virtually impossible to get an unbiased arbiter to resolve conflicts of this nature.

The UNSC which could have acted as an arbiter in this case is virtually useless at this point as Russia is one of its five permanent members who weild veto powers hence any resolution against its actions is as good as being dead on arrival. Even if Russia were to decide not to exercise her veto powers , the chances of this occuring being very slim, there is a very strong likelihood that China would do so on her behalf.

As the Russian Ukrainian conflict unfolds, it remains to be seen which nation will dare go beyond mere rhetoric and poke the Russian "bear" by engaging it in a game of Russian roulette with the odds clearly tipped in the favour of the Russians. Some may enthusiastically be waiting to see the United States mobilise its armed forces to confront the Russian threat like it happens in Hollywood blockbusters. However this is reality and not some studio in Hollywood. The chances of the United States engaging the Russians in an all out war are very slim at the most.

A military analyst remarked that presently with the way the Russian armed forces have been positioned, they could strike at US troop positions across Europe if they decided to do so. However even the Russians likely would not want to go to war with the United States even if the odds were in their favour. The economic and human cost of a conflict of such a scale would undermine both countries which I am sure they would want to avoid at all costs.

Hence on the Side of the United States, you're likely going to see more of economic warfare via means of sanctions and other non-kinetic approaches. For the Russians, the long term objective we are likely to witness is the deposition of the current Ukrainian government and the imposition of one that is loyal to the Russian State. This is because the costs of a prolonged military campaign will be too much for the Russians to sustain.

Sadly this will not be the last time a powerful nation will exercise its military might on a smaller one simply because it can do so even if it claims to be right. There can never be any justification or excuse for the needless loss of lives whether those of military personnel or civilians simply to massage the ego of politicians who are at the helms of affairs of powerful nations. Truly there is an imbalance of power on the world stage which needs to be addressed before the ensuing conflagration consumes us all at some point in no distant future.








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Written by   178
4 months ago
Topics: Reflections, Society
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