Never fully overcoming the grievances of the Cold War, the Ukraine Crisis has finally managed to transform the open rocky Western-Russian relationship into one more akin to that of enemies rather than cooperative rivals. As Putin makes overtures that stoke fears of a World War III, the West must consider how to react to such provocations without provoking a war. The only thing for certain, however, is that Russian President Vladimir Putin will do as he pleases, thus preemptive steps like arming the Ukrainian military at this point are prudent measures to prepare for what may come despite how Putin could use such developments to justify his behavior.
Clearly, the world is facing a long-term conflict with Russia’s impulse to dominate and ignore globalization that must be resolved over time, but the International Community needs to take proactive steps to avoid even greater strive among the world’s most powerful nations. Although nations have inherent conflicts of interests, even with their closest allies, countries in adversarial relationships are driven by competition over power, natural sources, military supremacy and economic development to conflict in major ways. This is particularly true in our globalized, supposed “free market” world where unhealthy competition is too often encouraged instead of punished. When it comes to major global powers, there is an added need to balance competing interests in order to avoid major armed conflicts and solve global issues through constructive cooperation.
When considering countries like the United States, Russia, India, and China, a major conflict between any two or more of these powers could significantly disrupt the global economy and make way for a third world war. For India, China’s partnership with Pakistan and Sri Lanka must be troubling given these highly populated nations are fiercely competing for desperately needed resources. Consequently, efforts on behalf of India and China’s rulers to build a working partnership are essential, especially when such engagements also involve honest discussions on areas where the two nations have conflicting interests.
On the other hand, there will always be great potential for armed conflict as the ever-growing needs of so many people pressures regional leaders to secure food, water, energy, and other resources for their own Peoples. At the same time, it is important to recognize the United States and China share many conflicting interests as well that will drive the US to favor economic development in countries like India and away from China. As China strengthens its ties with Russia, tensions between the two powerful nations are only going to rise, especially as China seeks to exert its will as a global power alongside America. For Russia, China could be a means to an end for dealing with American military might while China’s investments in India and neighbors would serve the Russian-Chinese partnership well. After all, it could help suppress armed conflict from Asian neighbors.
Putting what Putin would like to happen aside, a Chinese-American armed conflict would be thoroughly devastating while the added involvement of Russia, the rest of the West, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka etc, would be even worse. Consequently, both China and the United States need to recognize where conflicts of interests exist in their relationship then seek to resolve those flash point issues or recalibrate their relationship to avoid potential conflicts. The same is, of course, true for all international relationships. Moreover, soured relations with Russia and the potential for a major international conflict should have all global leaders on high alert. Just as the White House and the Kremlin had their “red phones” to fall back on during moments of potential conflict in the Cold War, world leaders need to proactively respond to this threat with increased diplomatic engagement.
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