The observation above was written to me by a professional Indian journalist in the employ of a leading worldwide news provider. This insight has persuaded me to pay more attention to the Indian ‘market,’ which may yet play a decisive role in the denouement of the ongoing reshaping of global politics brought on by the Russia-Ukraine war.
Yesterday I was scheduled to appear in panel discussions of that war hosted by two of India’s best known news providers, Times Now and the India Today Group. I was unlucky on both. There were some technical problems at the former which arose while I was in the Zoom holding pattern. They could not be resolved and I was disconnected. And at the latter Group a most peculiar editorial decision was taken to scrub its discussion of the incident at the Ukrainian nuclear plant in Zaporozhye in favor of coverage of the death of cricket player and so all panelists were figuratively speaking sent home.
Nonetheless, I had prepared some remarks for both programs which I now will share with readers of this website. I will be brief and to the point.
In the months leading up to the Russian incursion in Ukraine, several of my peers had called attention to the Russian-Chinese rapprochement, which President Xi had publicly described as ‘higher than an alliance.’ These same peers argued that it was precisely the backing of the Chinese which gave Vladimir Putin the confidence to take on the United States and NATO in a direct challenge to U.S. global hegemony, with Ukraine as the chosen battlefield. Moreover, Putin’s visit to Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games provided an opportunity for last minute coordination by the two leaders of scenarios for cooperation in the coming showdown with NATO.
However, the Kremlin’s preparations for the coming war involved face to face talks with one other global leader about which much less was said in the world media: namely his visit weeks earlier to Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To be sure, Putin’s delegation to Delhi was numerous and highlighted the growing joint activities in the energy field and also in not only procurement but also production of military hardware. India, like Turkey, had acted in defiance of U.S. pressure over its military suppliers and was accepting delivery of the cutting edge S-400 air defense systems from Russia come what may from Washington.
I would stress that the visit to India was no less important to Moscow than the visit to Beijing. Whereas the United States has for the past five years been applying ever greater efforts to de-couple from China and to implement a variety of military, political and economic policies to “contain” the PRC, it has been at equally great pains to woo India away from its decades long friendship with Russia and to bring Delhi into active participation in the plans for ‘Indo-Pacific’ defense directed against the People’s Republic of China.
Now, when push came to shove in the United Nations General Assembly meeting a week ago on the motion to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and to call for an end to hostilities, which at this moment would signify a Russian defeat, we note that the two countries, China and India, cast the very same vote: abstention. China did not exercise a veto in favor of its ‘friend.’ It abstained.
Of course, in such a vote, abstentions carry great meaning. They are given in the face of massive U.S. diplomatic efforts to bribe or blackmail a host of UN member states and ensure they vote as America dictates. In the end, the United States got what it wanted: an overwhelming number of member states supported the resolution. However, given the abstentions of India and China, as well as the abstentions or vetoes of other populous states including Iran, South Africa and Vietnam, one can say that states accounting for more than 4 billion people, or more than half of humanity, did not support the propagandistic resolution authored in Washington. This constitutes a moral victory for the Kremlin in a vote which, after all, carries no legal consequences.
World leaders and the mass media of the United States and allies have been hyperactive, nearly hysterical in their reporting on the progress of the Russian advance into Ukraine and in disseminating speculation on what the Kremlin’s end game will be. The loss of focus, the confusion underlying the hysteria arises due to a memory span that usually does not go back beyond two weeks and a power of forecasting that does not reach beyond one week. The media are, in effect, lost in time and they are drawing the broad public into the same fog.
Considering the progress now achieved by the Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine, given that their numbers are generally well below those of the Ukrainian military, militias and recently hired mercenaries deployed by Kiev; considering that the worst of the Ukrainian radical nationalists, a.k.a. terrorists are now surrounded in places of their concentration, as for example, Mariupol; considering that Ukraine’s commercial life will soon be cut as the Russian forces take full control of the Black Sea littoral, I believe the conflict will not go on for more than a week or two before Russia achieves its objective of Ukraine’s unqualified capitulation and the hostilities come to an end.
If so, Russia will have achieved in Ukraine what Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov said back in December when negotiating with the United States and NATO over Russia’s demand to revise the security architecture of Europe: “move or we will move you.” Russia will have exposed the ultimate uselessness of NATO to European defense and will mark a turning point in global power relations.
What will emerge from the changing power balance will be the formal end of U.S. global hegemony and of its monopolar moment. The world will become bipolar for the first time since the end of the Cold War: the US/EU on one side and RU/PRC on the other side.
The new bipolar world is a vast improvement on global U.S. hegemony over the past 30 years, which resulted in endless wars, in the death of millions of civilians and of whole national economies in places like Libya, Syria, Afghanistan in senseless and hopeless U.S. striving to remake the world in its image in keeping with the promises of the Neoconservative ideology set out very efficiently by Francis Fukuyama in The End of History in 1992. Far from being the defenders of the status quo, the United States used its moment of unfettered power to artificially accelerate the historic trends towards liberal democracy that it believed were destined to bring universal peace in some indefinite future.
The reinstatement of a bipolar world is a good in itself. You need not be a Manichaen to appreciate that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely: it is better for there to be opposing forces nominally designated as Good and Evil than to have a sole power that declares itself to be the Good.
But the bipolar world is not good enough to protect the rights, liberties and well being of the world’s peoples, who may not well appreciate the compulsion to choose this side or that on every global issue. Moreover, it falls short of the multipolar world that has been so widely promised, in which the major economic and military powers of the world will have their proper seats and weighted voting rights at the world’s board of directors’ table. This is where India can yet play a determining role for our common welfare: by directing the emerging New World Order towards multipolarism.
In doing so, India would be reestablishing the preeminent position in global politics which it enjoyed way before it had the economic wherewithal and other power attributes that it possesses today. Along with Yugoslavia, it was for decades the leader of what was designated the Nonaligned Nations.
Let us hope that the Indian leadership appreciates the opportunity before the country to play a very constructive and necessary role in reordering not just the security architecture of Europe, but the forces that govern world politics.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022