History was just created when the largest military exercises ever were conducted in Siberia and Russia’s Far East from September 11 to 18. More than 300,000 troops, 36,000 vehicles, 1000 aircraft and 80 warships participated in these exercises. Russia and China want to send a message to the West, particularly to the US that the days of western domination of the world and American hegemony are over.
By Dr. Sawraj Singh
History was just created when the largest military exercises ever were conducted in Siberia and Russia’s Far East from September 11 to 18. More than 300,000 troops, 36,000 vehicles, 1000 aircraft and 80 warships participated in these exercises. The previous such record was also set by the Soviet Union in 1981 when Zapad-81 exercises were held in which 100,000 to 150,000 troops took part. This exercise was double than that exercise. Russia not only was able to project its military power but also sent a strong signal of its solidarity with China. Mongolia was also invited to participate. Turkey, a member of the NATO and once considered Eastern Flank of the NATO was also invited.
We should try to understand the significance of these exercises in today’s context. Russia and China want to send a message to the West, particularly to the US that the days of western domination of the world and American hegemony are over. A brief overview of the history of the last two centuries will make it clear that the western domination and hegemony were established with the military might of the West. This phenomenon is generally known as “Gun Boat Diplomacy”. Russia and China have put an end to this kind of diplomacy once for all. After the second world war, as long as Russia and China were supporting e same side, the West (America) lost almost every war.
The series of the lost American wars started in Korea and continued in continued in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to all the way in Africa. However, when China supported the opposite side in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union lost the war. America and the West won wars against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and against Gaddafi in Libya where Russia and China did not help them. However, when Russia and China came to help Assad in Syria then America and the West have been unable to dislodge Assad.
There is very little margin of doubt that the Soviet Union was militarily stronger than America and the West. The question is that if the Soviet Union was militarily stronger than the US and the West then why did it collapse? The most likely answer to this question is that the Soviet Union was economically much weaker than the US and the West. Another question is that why should the US and the West worry now about the military power of Russia when in spite of its military supremacy the Soviet Union could not harm it and despite being the biggest military power it collapsed.
The answer to this question is twofold. First, the role of China has changed. At the time of the Soviet Union it had practically aligned itself with the US and the West against the Soviet Union’s hegemony. Second, now the US and the West are facing the combined military power of Russia and the economic power of China. I feel that America and the West cannot match the combined strength of Russia and China. America and the West should understand this reality that whether they start a military war with Russia or an economic war with China, eventually they will have to face the combined strength of Russia and China.
Trump’s present strategy to start a trade war with China seems to be based upon this thinking that America can first economically weaken China and then take care of Russian military challenge. However, the Vostok 2018 sends a clear message to him that Russia and China may not play the game by his rules and may set their own rules and he may have to play the game by their rules. I do not think America can win the game if rules of the game are changed. That is why I made this prediction when America started the current trade war with China that America will not be able to win this war.
India should not be just a silent spectator of this war and should clearly understand and define its objective interests rather than go by its subjective feelings. Thanks to the founding principles of our educational system laid down by the East India Company, many Indians continue to suffer from the twin ailments of inferiority complex and slavish mentality toward the West. They cannot accept the fact that today the combined strength of Russia and China has already exceeded the western strength.
Moreover, the conflict between America and the West on one side and Russia and China on the other side is in reality a struggle between a unipolar world and a multipolar world. India should clearly understand that its objective interests lie with the multipolar world. India should get rid of the colonial mind set and fee itself from inferiority complex and slavish mentality toward the West. Then India will be more objective in understanding and evaluating the world realities. The major reality of today’s world is Rise of the East and Decline of the West. India should also remember that it is a part of the rising East.
Vostok 2018 is a clear manifestation of the Rise of the East. It also gives a strong message that the world is no longer unipolar and has already become multipolar. No one country, region, race, color, nationality, religion or ideology can now dominate the entire world.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.