New Cold War

New Cold War
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As the United States pulls out of the key Cold war arms control treaty, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Agreement with Russia reciprocating in kind and China asking both to renegotiate it, Iran announced the successful test of a new cruise missile with a range of 1350 kilometers, which coincided with celebrations of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. (The Trump administration apparently viewed the treaty in contention as a restraint on its ability to compete with China and Russia). The unmistakable inference that can be drawn from this event and the drift of international relations and politics is that the world is becoming more dangerous. In more than one way, world politics is approximating the Cold war. The difference this time is that it is a troika of powers, the United States, China and Russia that are jockeying, jostling and maneuvering for power and influence. From a systemic perspective, the world that inhabit is beginning to approximate a power configuration that can be called tripolarity. The proximate cause for this structural condition is the Trump presidency wherein the American president is turning the United States inward and reasserting the power of the country in a confrontationist idiom. But, this is the proximate cause. The deeper reasons emanate from the United States’ relative decline, the rise, both economic and military, of China and the reinsertion of Russia into great power politics. While it is stated that bipolar systems are stable than multipolar ones, nothing can be stated with certainty about a tripolar power configuration. But, what can be stated with a degree of certitude is that the world will become a more militarized and thereby a dangerous place where security dilemmas and the attendant arms races will be on the increase. There will also be an increased salience of the politics of blocs and regions, where this tripolar competition will pan out and denoue. In this sense then, the new competition will have features of the 20th century Cold war but with new and novel characteristics. Nations will align, balance or bandwagon on the basis of their real and perceived interests. The much touted post Cold war dividend has and will with more intensity give impetus to old and new conflicts and powers are likely to intervene in these, in one form or the other. All in all what will be the defining feature of the 21st century world is disorder and strife. Unfortunately.