Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 15:06 (GMT+7)

Monday, May 31, 2021, 09:11 (GMT+7)
A look back on the world’s political - military situation in the first two decades of the 21st century

The world’s political-military situation in the first two decades of the 21st century is characterised by the high-frequency outbreak of wars and conflicts as well as the rise and fall of major powers leading to the restructuring of the world order. How will the world order change in the time to come? The question is still left open.

The outbreak of wars and conflicts with a high frequency

30 years ago, the disintegration of the world’s first socialist power (December 25th, 1991) led to the collapse of the socialist system on a global scale. After the event, Washington and the West claimed that they had “won” the Cold War and advocated building a U.S.-led unipolar world order. Encountering no containment from the Soviet Union, with its superior military strength, the U.S. unilaterally waged a series of wars to “protect freedom,” “promote democracy,” and “defend human rights” around the world.

To celebrate its 50th founding anniversary (1949 - 1999), NATO, led by the U.S., launched a war against Yugoslavia in the name of “protecting human rights” without any permission of the UN Security Council. It was the invasion of Yugoslavia that commenced the “crusade” of the U.S. in the 21st century. In 2001, Washington formed a coalition of 43 countries headed by NATO to wage a war called “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan against the Taliban Movement which was believed by the U.S. to harbour terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden - the instigator behind the September 11 attacks. After nearly 20 years, the people of this Central Asian country have not had a chance to enjoy freedom yet, and the fighting is still going on every day. Following the war in Afghanistan, in 2003, the U.S. started a war with the declared mission of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” under the pretext of “disarming chemical weapons.” This war was opposed not only by Russia and China but also by France and Germany - America’s NATO allies. Up to now, US troops have still been bogged down here. In early May 2008, NATO, led by the US, armed and trained the Georgian Military to wage a “proxy war” against Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. In this war, Georgian troops were fought back by Russia and then failed miserably. This signalled the collapse of the US position and the rise of Russia after the Cold War. In 2011, the US led NATO to incite political unrests called “the Arab Spring” in the Middle East - North Africa, leading to the invasion of Libya with the name “Operation Odyssey Dawn” that toppled the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “The Arab Spring” also brought about the Syrian civil war that has not ended yet. It is seen as a “miniature world war” with the participation of nearly 90 countries. Additionally, “the Arab Spring” led to the wars in Mali (2012) and Yemen (2015) and a series of political upheavals weakening Middle East - North African countries.

One of the variants of hybrid warfare in the first two decades of the 21st century is a new form of intervention called “colour revolution.” More specifically, oppositional forces gain economic, political, and even military support from the outside in the name of “non-governmental organisation” to wage wars and overthrow political regimes in many countries. Typical examples of hybrid warfare took place in Yugoslavia (2000) to topple the government of President S. Milosevic, in Georgia (2003) to turn Saakashvili - a pro-American figure into the country’s president, in Ukraine (2004 and 2014) to bring V. Yushenko - a pro-American politician to power and remove President V. Yanukovych - a pro-Russian leader, in Kyrgyzstan (2005) to overthrow pro-Russian President A. Akayev, in Venezuela (2015 and 2019) to topple President N. Maduro, and in Belarus (2020) to dethrone President A. Lukashenco. However, both colour revolutions in Venezuela and Belarus failed.

The rise and fall of major powers

Due to the strategic mistakes of the ruling elite in both domestic and foreign policies, since 2008, the U.S. has been dealing with a systemic crisis leading to its declining status. Domestically, the development model based on financial capitalism formed since the Bretton - Woods Agreement in 1944, according to which the strength of the US relies mainly on the “virtual economy” with services accounting for 80% of its GDP and actual production making up only 20%, has been sinking into slump. Externally, due to the decline of the US power, the rise of China, and the renaissance of Russia, America has been confronted with the crisis of unipolar world order established after the Cold War. Recently, the U.S. has endured the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world, which deals a fatal blow to the U.S. status.

Contrary to the U.S. declining role, China has become a rare phenomenon in the world’s economic - political history, fundamentally changing the world situation in the first two decades of the 21st century. From a low-lying developing country, China has risen to the world’s second largest economy. China considered the 2008 financial crisis of the U.S. as the end of the US sole superpower status and a historic opportunity for it as well. Therefore, China’s President Hu Jintao rejected President Obama’s proposal to form the Group of Two to “govern the world.” With the “Made In China 2025” plan and the “Belt and Road Initiative,” China hopes to build a new world order in accord with the “Beijing consensus.”

In addition, during the two decades in power since 2000, in spite of embargoes, President Putin managed to bring Russia out of the comprehensive crisis after the years of his predecessor’s rule - B. Yeltsin after the Soviet Union had disintegrated. Russia has revived and become a new power with an increasing influence on the world. Economically, Moscow has pursued the market economy model. In 2020, Russia’s GDP was ranked 11th in the world. Militarily, Russia completed military reforms, while re-establishing a strategic balance between itself and the U.S. with a variety of “unique” weapons capable of responding to any aggression in any form.

According to experts, the rise and fall of those major powers are leading to the restructuring of the world order. As a consequence, the unipolar world order is on the brink of collapse and a multi-polar and multi-centre world order will be formed soon. Against that backdrop, the U.S. tries to prevent the collapse of the unipolar world order. China attempts to build a world order “with a shared destiny”; in fact, it is a world order in accordance with “Beijing consensus.” Russia does not accept the unipolar world order led by the U.S. and struggles to be recognised by other major powers as an equal member of the global political landscape. Meanwhile, the EU does still not show its readiness to play a new role in the era of competition for power; it is taking only first steps to get out of the US “security umbrella.”

Forecast about the world’s political - military situation in the third decade

The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out at the end of 2019 and spread across the globe, has shown no sign of ending. It is considered as a variant of a world hybrid war among major powers by military - political analysts. In the forecast about the world’s political situation in the third decade of the 21st century titled “COVID-19: the great restructuring,” Professor K. Schwab - President of the World Economic Forum believed that COVID-19 marked a turning point in human history and divided the world into two eras, namely pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19. In the post-COVID-19 era, the U.S. and the entire world capitalism must change their development model. Furthermore, a new world order will be created. In particular, it is forecasted that by 2030, China will have surpassed the U.S. and become the world’s largest economy. Beijing will strive to complete the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics on the occasion of the  100th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Besides, according to President Joe Biden, the U.S. will make every effort to “rebuild the country” and form coalitions against the regimes that it considers as “dictatorship” in China and Russia. Therefore, the competition between the U.S. and its allies as one side and China and Russia as the other will be the main scenario affecting the world’s political-military situation in the third decade of the 21st century. Under such a context, hybrid wars all over the world between major powers will become more intense. As a result, while old issues relating to North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ukraine have not been remedied yet, there may appear many new hot spots that will serve as a “valve” for reducing pressure from the competition between major powers.

Hence, more than ever before, the international community needs to maintain cooperation  to protect and strengthen the Charter of the UN and international organisations so that they will promote their role in building a new world order towards the goal of peace, cooperation and sustainable development. To realise that goal, Russian President Putin proposed a Meeting of the Heads of State of the Five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the U.S., China, France and the UK) to discuss the ways of addressing global threats that no single country can solve alone. According to experts, if this proposal is successful, the Meeting will discuss how to end the hybrid world war between great powers to build a new world order in the post-COVID-19 era. For this reason, this Meeting has the same significance as the Yalta Conference of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union held in February 1945 to discuss how to end the World War II and build a new political-security structure after the war.

Despite any development in the world’s political-military situation, Viet Nam will remain steadfastness in its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation, and development as well as the diplomatic guidelines on diversifying and multilateralising its external relations in order to protect national interests based on the basic principles of the UN Charter and international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Simultaneously, Viet Nam will stringently implement the “four no’s” policy, including no military alliance, no affiliation with one country to counteract the other, no foreign military base in the Vietnamese territory to act against other countries, and no force or threatening to use force in international relations. Furthermore, our country will actively and proactively participate in multilateral defence and security mechanisms under the Party’s new thinking on national defence, especially the defence of the Homeland’s seas and islands.

Sr. Col. PHAM QUOC LUONG, PhD

Your Comment (0)

Applying lessons on the Paris Commune’s seizure and defence of power to today’s Fatherland protection cause
The Paris Commune 1871 was the first revolution of the working class and the labouring people to overthrow the bourgeois government. Though the revolution existed for 72 days only (March 18th, 1871 - May 28th, 1871), it provided a number of profound lessons for the working class, the workers’ movement, and the international communist movement