|Are Russia and Europe Ready for a New Pacific World Order? (1)
The U.S. intensify the process of New Pacific World Order shaping, where
Europe and Russia are not considered to be key players. Are Russia and Europe ready
to assert their rights to leading roles in the future world order?
American vision of future world order: the Atlantic Pax Americana is
dying, long live the Pacific Pax Americana!
In recent years the United States faced more challenges than their traditional
partners from Europe. Not only economic model is collapsing but also the whole
system of transatlantic relations in which the U.S. has been a leader. Against
this background the crash of the EU monetary policy and economic consequences
of erroneous haste with single-level model of European integration look like
However, the U.S. has an uncontested advantage, which is a distinctive
feature of all great powers: broad geostrategic vision and planning that allows
finding asymmetric responses to seemingly unsolvable problems. Thus if the U.S.
are no longer satisfied with the old world order (and vice versa) and
restoration of this order in its original form is too complicated and requires extraordinary
efforts, than it is simplier to try leading the process of a new world order shaping.
And the Americans started this with their inherent aggressiveness.
The last two months the U.S. has demonstrated extreme activity in the
processes of shaping the New Pacific World Order. In October, the Congress
ratified a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, which should eliminate 95% of
all tariffs in mutual trade, and what is more important – set an example for
further deepening of Washington's trade (and other) relations with Asia-Pacific
In November, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in
Honolulu, Obama said the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia,
Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Chile and Peru reached the broad outlines of an
agreement to create a free trade area of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan is
expected to join this group of countries later. Obama said the U.S. "has
been and always will be a Pacific nation."
That same month, Obama announced opening of the U.S. military base in
Australia. Also Americans are planning to deploy littoral combat ships to Singapore
and to strengthen their military presence in the Indian Ocean, containing a
number of crucial for Asia-Pacific states (and not only for them) traffic flows.
Current U.S. interest in the Pacific is surely explained not only by the
fact of Obama's birth in Hawaii. Since the late XIX century, Americans have
been actively promoting their interests in the region. Let's just recall 1899-1902
war with the Philippines, confrontation with Japan for dominance in the Pacific
Ocean in the first half of the XX century, then the Korean and the Vietnam Wars,
the formation of anti-Soviet blocs in the region, American military bases in
Japan and South Korea, military cooperation with Taiwan, etc.
However, the United States decided to shift the center of world politics
from the Atlantic to the Pacific at the time when established on their
initiative half a century ago and now almost obsolete economic, military and
political transatlantic models fail to work, while the strength of the
Asia-Pacific countries is increasing rapidly as well as their trade turnover with
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed the U.S. strategic plans in
published this month in "Foreign Policy" program article entitled
"America's Pacific Century". Starting with the words "The future
of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United
States will be right at the center of the action," Clinton presented the
plans to enhance the "diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise"
American presence in the Asia-Pacific region for the coming decades.
First of all, the U.S. plan to deepen their relations with Japan, South
Korea, Australia, Philippines and Thailand. Relations with China, India,
Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Pacific
island nations will also be intensified. The United States will also strengthen
cooperation within the ASEAN and the APEC. Clinton particularly noted the
importance of the U.S. military presence for a stable and secure economic
development of the region.
It is important to note that in her large article Hillary Clinton paid
little attention with just few diplomatic reverences to the importance of
relations with the EU, and no even word about Russia. While the EU countries
are geographically located far from the Pacific region (which however would
hardly be an obstacle if the U.S. really want to see the EU significant role in
the New Pacific World Order formation), Russia directly pertains to the
Challenges and opportunities for Russia
The absence of Russia in U.S. Secretary of State article is likely to
reveal a strong Washington reluctance to see Moscow involvement in the affairs
of the region, which U.S. policymakers believe to be crucial for this century.
Recent increased criticism in the U.S. media for the "reset" of relations
with Russia is also symptomatic as well as condemnation of predictable Putin's
decision to run for president again. Surely election campaign in the U.S. has
its impact, but perhaps more important is Washington understanding of which
state could potentially impede American plans to dominate the Pacific.
After all, China in spite of its strong economic growth is still
relatively weak militarily: it has a lot of weapons, but its quality is significantly
worse than modern Western. Especially noticeable is China lag at sea: Although
tremendous efforts of the government has already given some results, but
quantitatively and especially qualitatively Chinese navy is still far behind
And the navy is expected to play a major role in the regional security provision,
firstly the economic one. In this regard criticism by political opponents of
the Russian leadership decision to buy a few warships abroad appears unreasonable.
Development of own shipbuilding is of course a necessary and promising case,
but Russia needs powerful and modern mobile warships right now.
In the context of the world geopolitical axis shift Russia's efforts on
BRICS cooperation enhancement are promising. Russia, China, India and South
Africa geographically partially surround the Asia-Pacific region (which de-facto
also includes the Indian Ocean). Although Brazil does not have direct access to
the Pacific, yet it is likely together with all South American countries to take
an active part in the Trans-Pacific issues.
Another potentially promising Russian project is the Customs Union,
designed to transform in the future into an economic and military-political
Eurasian Union. As key players in the Pacific World Order will be larger powers
than the European countries, Russia must strengthen its capacities to have
comparable to the U.S., China, India and Japan resources. In this regard, the
deepening integration in the post-Soviet space may give Russia the opportunity
to compensate for the demographic problems and significantly increase the GDP.
To win a place under the Pacific sun Russia has to do a lot, including the
development of its Far Eastern regions. In this context it was positive decision
to allocate 15 billion dollars in Vladivostok development ahead of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation summit-2012. But the region requires more systematic
development, because soon it will become Russia's main window to the world.
The New World Order can open a number of opportunities for Russia, including
a new way to build its relations with the EU. While previously Russia was located
on the periphery of the Atlantic World, now Europe will be located on the
periphery of the Pacific World. While in Europe Russia was considered the most
Asian state, in Asia it would be the most European one. Also in the new world Russia
will feel less problems with criticism concerning tendencies to
authoritarianism, since democracy model of most Asia-Pacific countries is much
closer to Russian than to European one.
For the EU the absence of its representatives at the summit of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations this month in Indonesia was the alarm
bell. Besides the members of the ASEAN plus China, India, Japan, South Korea,
Australia, New Zealand, representatives of the U.S. and Russia arrived at the
summit. But the Europe remained aloof from these prospective processes of
The EU's unwillingness to change priorities was indicated by the results
of the 10th annual Transatlantic Trends survey (http://www.transatlantictrends.org/).
52% of the EU citizens believe the U.S. are more important to their national
interests than the Asian countries (only 37%). In the U.S. the situation is
quite the opposite: here 51% believe that Asian countries are more important to
their national interests than the countries of the EU (only 38%). One should
note that in 2004 a majority of Americans (54%) considered European countries more important to their
interests than the countries of Asia (29%). In just a few years American media
have managed to convince public opinion of the importance of priorities changing,
and now it is quite easy for U.S. politicians to explain to their voters the
reasons to replace the Atlantic World Order for the Pacific one. Meanwhile their
European colleagues have a lot of work to do with the electorate opinion that
would mean loss of time and therefore loss of opportunities.
Being hung up on the internal economic issues the EU runs the risk to move
from the center to the periphery of the global geopolitical game. For some time
this situation may seem to be comfortable for Europeans, who in case of socio-economic
stability restoration can enjoy quiet and peaceful "retirement" life.
However, the younger generation of Europeans from newly acceded countries of
Central and Eastern Europe with dynamic economies can hardly be satisfied with
the politics of quiet stagnation.
Outlet for the "new Europeans" may be found in enhancing of regional
cooperation in Central, Eastern and Northern parts of Europe. The preconditions
for that already exist in predominantly Polish projects of the Visegrad Group
and the Eastern Partnership, as well as deepening of the cooperation between
the Baltic States and their Northern neighbors. Here one can also mention Poland
and Russia reconciliation, which in future may develop into a partnership of promising
regional projects headed by them.
Thereby, in recent months the U.S. have been actively involved in the New Pacific
World Order shaping. U.S. authorities want the XXI century to enter history as
the America's Pacific Century. Will the New World Order also be an American one
or not – it strongly depends on the activity of Russia and Europe as key
players of the outgoing world order.
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