Monday, December 27, 2021, 10:08 (GMT+7)
The world's major military and political shifts in 2021

In 2021, several military and political events took place across the globe resulting from the strategic rivalry between major powers, making the world situation more instable and unpredictable.

Ending the 20-year anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan

On August 15, 2021, soon after President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S troops from Afghanistan, Taliban, once hunted by Washington in its global war on terrorism, took control of the country right after American last troops left the city of Kabul. In addition, Biden also decreased the number of troops in the Middle East, keeping only the necessary ones to deter international terrorist networks, contain the “invasion” of Iran and protect important interests of the U.S. In his announcement, Biden stated that U.S withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East marked the end of an era in which the United States uses military power to remake other countries. Francis Fukuyama – an economic professor of Johns Hopkins University (US) who claimed that the 21st Century will be America’s era after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, had to admit that U.S withdrawal of troops bogged down in foreign theatres signaled not the recession but the end of the U.S hegemony.

U.S adjustments in military policy

U.S military policy under Biden’s administration is shaped and implemented basing on the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance” released on 3 March, 2021 which predicted that US is confronting changes in world power balance with growing competition from China and Russia who are pursuing their influences on regional and international scales. Implementing this Guidance, the Pentagon makes adjustments of the scale, structure and capability of the U.S military and resolutely discards the old weapon systems to spare resources for the development of new technologies to make sure that the U.S military is always best trained and equipped in the world. America will not hesitate to use force if necessary to protect its vital national interests. However, Washington only uses it as the last resort and puts on top political, diplomatic and economic measures. The U.S military doctrine with a vision to 2030 stipulates that America will regain its superiority in high-tech conventional weapons, such as: hypersonic and artificial intelligence (AI) weapons, and will reduce the role of nuclear weapon.

Fragile strategic stability in the U.S – Russia relations

After the Geneva summit on June 16th 2021 between U.S President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two sides issued a joint statement about strategic stability which necessitates the maintenance of strategic predictability in the relations between U.S and Russia as both countries are nuclear powers in terms of their arsenals, technological level and the quality of nuclear warheads. Both countries are aware of the mutual assured destruction in a nuclear war, therefore, President Joe Biden decided to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and facilitate talks to reach new agreements on arms control. Nevertheless, the strategic stability in the U.S – Russia relations is hard to last long because of their discords in the settlement of the “flashpoints”, such as: the Syrian Civil War and Ukraine Crisis. As for Ukraine issue, the U.S commits to back President Volodymyr Zelensky’s use of force to “retake” Crimea and “liberate” two eastern provinces of Lugansk and Donersk. Therefore, in 2021, U.S and NATO conducted the “Sea Breeze 2021” exercise in the Black Sea with the participation of its 6th Fleet and 30 NATO member countries.

China becoming the No. 1 rival of the U.S

After coming to office in January 2021, President Joe Biden marked a fundamental change in the U.S – China relations. The Interim National Security Strategic Guidance stated that China is the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system. For this reason, President Joe Biden advocates the establishment of an ally of world democratic countries to cope with challenges from China. To implement his vision, Biden upgraded his predecessor Donald Trump’s policy of strategic competition with Beijing into an anti-China doctrine, making the biggest change in its foreign policies during the past 5 decades since President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972. Competition with China is also one of the U.S reasons for holding Geneva summit, aimed at undermining the bond or even separating Russia from China.

NATO's efforts to escape from a “brain death”

With an attempt to save NATO from a “brain death” (under Trump’s presidency), in his voyage to Europe, President Joe Biden attended and directed the agenda of NATO’s summit held on June 14th 2021 in Brussels with a view to consolidating and strengthening the bloc’s solidarity. With high consensus, the summit issued a communiqué and, for the first time in history, NATO designated China a “systematic challenge” to the Western alliance. Also at the summit, NATO leaders agreed on the NATO-2030 agenda which assessed the present and future security environment, set out NATO’s approaches to regional and global security issues as well as long term security goals, and shaped its political and military vision in the next decade. At the same time, it pointed out the nature and main tasks to build and develop the alliance’s military forces in order to deal with new security challenges. Accordingly, to adapt with new political and security environment, NATO 2030 agenda pointed out 3 main directions for the alliance, namely: (1). Strengthening and maintaining military might by increasing investment in the modernisation of forces, affirming that security is the foundation for the prosperity of member countries; (2). Building a political convergence when evaluating issues relating to the interests of the allies, such as: situation at the “flashpoints”, global arms control, and impact of climate change; (3). Building a more global approach. If in the past two decades, the globalisation of the alliance’s function was for its need to expand influence beyond its regional boundaries and anti-terrorism, its globalisation of function now stems from the threats posed by an increasingly assertive China at a global scale. Hence, the preservation of values and democratic institutions to 2030 requires that NATO further strengthen its relations with non-Europe allies, such as: Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan in areas of: aerospace, cyber space, and new technologies and arms control. This is not a global presence but a global approach of the alliance.

U.S strengthening relations with non-NATO allies and partners

Under the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, stemming from its vital interests, the U.S pays special attention to strengthening relations with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. Accordingly, America will deepen the relations with India, New Zealand, Singapore and other ASEAN countries. In the Western hemisphere, America will widen relations with Canada and Mexico. In the Middle East, America will consolidate and strengthen relations with its allies and partners to contain Iran. To strengthen relations with non-NATO allies and partners, in March 2021, U.S Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken conducted their first visit to Japan. The joint statement after US-Japan talk expressed concerns over China’s activities in the East Sea and East China Sea that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order and create political, economic, military and technological threats. On September 15, 2021, U.S President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the launch of a trilateral security partnership, known as AUKUS, to deepen diplomatic, security and defence relations in the Indo-Pacific region to meet challenges of the 21st Century. The US-UK-Australia Joint Statement stated that AUKUS is guided by enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, and is a mechanism to strengthen the trilateral security partnership. Accordingly, the US, the UK, and Australia resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Through AUKUS, the three governments will strengthen the ability of each to support security and defence interests, building on longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties; promote deeper information and technology sharing; foster deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains. And in particular, the three countries will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities. One of the commitments made in the AUKUS is that the U.S and UK will support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. AUKUS demonstrates the U.S determination in coping with growing threats to the freedom of navigation in the East Sea, where key sea lines of communication pass through.

In brief, several political and military events took place in 2021 around the world, making situation even more complex. This is also the result of adjustments and competition between regional and global major powers, greatly affecting each country, region and the world as a whole.

Senior Colonel LE THE MAU

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It is impossible to distort or deny the stature, meaning and value of the Victory Day, April 30, 1975
At 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 1975, the flag of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam fluttered on the roof of the Independence Palace, marking a sacred moment for the Vietnamese people, gloriously ending the resistance war against the US for national salvation which lasted for 21 years (1954 - 1975). Since then, April 30 has become the official holiday of the Vietnamese people, named the Victory Day, or the Reunification Day