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Monday, January 09, 2017, 15:45 (GMT+7)
The world’s political and military situation in 2016

Dialogue and cooperation for peace, stability and development continue to be the main trend. However, differences, military conflicts, and armed races have been severe, complicated and unpredictable. Thus, the world’s political and military picture in 2016 is mixed with various tones. 

1. Strengthening dialogue and expanding cooperation to deal with emerging security threats at global level, maintaining peace, stability and development were the highlights in 2016. On April 23rd, 2016, representatives from 170 countries agreed to sign the Paris Agreement on dealing with climate change (at COP 21). Parties agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850). From now to 2020, developed countries will provide at least $100 billion a year to help developing countries convert into green energy use and deal with climate change. The signing of the Paris Agreement is a historic victory of international cooperation in the war on climate change, more importantly protecting the Earth from perishing due to human beings. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believed that COP 21 ushered in a new era for global cooperation in addressing one of the most complicated issues of the human kind.

Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony on April 22nd 2016 (photo: VNA)

International cooperation in fighting terrorism is also highlighted in 2016, drawing special attention at regional and global forums, and bilateral and multilateral relations. Measures for cooperation adopted by countries include: intelligence information exchange, establishing early warning and control centers, conducting joint patrols, anti-terrorist exercises and operations. Thus, many terrorist plots have been timely detected and prevented. A number of terrorist leaders and militants were captured or annihilated. Many experts believe that the war against IS is reaching a “turning point” in the process to defeat this notorious terrorist organization.

Cooperation in maintaining security and stability at regional and global levels has been eventful. In this regard, regional and global organizations and forums have conducted various practical activities to strengthen dialogues, enhance cooperation, particularly on defence and security within their blocs, regions and inter-regions, and heighten the UN’s role and international law in handling “hot spots”, preventing conflicts and dealing with security threats to ensure stability for development. Those are “bright tones” in the world’s political and military picture in 2016.

2. Nevertheless, in many regions worldwide, military conflicts, sovereignty disputes, terrorist attacks and armed races remained severe and complex. In 2016, existed disputes and conflicts still threatened regional and global security and stability. The Korean Peninsula once again “heated up” when the U.S. and its allies imposed sanctions against the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea due to its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The deployment of Russia’s aircraft, missiles and warships to Syria and the increased operations of the coalition brought about positive results in the war against IS. However, terrorism is becoming more brutal and dangerous. Many terrorist organizations are expanding their organization to European, Central Asian, Middle East and Southeast Asian countries. Dispute over water resources, sea and island sovereignty were intense and complicated, particularly in the East Sea. The Middle East - North Africa region remained the zone of danger as conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Sudan and several other countries were long-lasting and bloody. Central and Western Asia was a focal point when dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh territory turned into a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Turkey was fluctuated by a military coup. Relations between the U.S., the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia experienced a new danger when the U.S. accelerated the installation of its National Missile Defense (NMD) in Europe, and NATO deployed its troops close to Russia’s border. According to many experts, this deterrent action of the U.S. and NATO is risky and might lead their relations with Russia to a dangerous military confrontation.

In 2016, the world also witnesses historic political and military events. Most noticeably, the UK, a key member, decided to leave the European Union (EU), known as Brexit. That was an “earthquake” potentially causing unpredictable changes in economics, politics, defence and security of the UK, the EU and even the whole world. As for the UK and the EU, Brexit both made the economic and political crises and many other critical issues of the old continent more severe, and weakened the Europe’s power. More seriously, it could bring about a domino effect, leading to the unexpected collapse of the United Kingdom and the EU. As for the world, the domino effect of Brexit could disrupt and break other regional integrations, particularly in the context of vigorous emerge of extreme nationalism. Its effects would bring the world to an era of increased instability and conflicts.

Those mentioned above are “dark tones” of the world’s political and military picture in 2016, which would threaten all countries and cause negative effects on security and stability of the regions and the world.

3. Countries focused on adjusting their defence and military strategy to deal with geo-political and geo-strategic changes in the regions and the world. Russia stated that the world situation was very complicated with evermore unpredictable threats, including the use of power by one particular country to impose its will and “double standard” on other countries. Russia was a victim of the US and  Western policy of sanctions.

China focused on stepping up its armed forces downsizing, adjusting the structure and organization of the PLA, developing modern weapons and equipment, giving priority to the air forces, navy, strategic artillery, and enhancing the capabilities to conduct operations under highly informative condition. Concerning its foreign affairs, China further broadens cooperation on defence and military with countries, particularly with Russia, focusing on technology transference, hi-tech weapon and equipment development, cyber security and space science. It also focused on promoting its leading role in building the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) into a “centre” of the new world order.

Japan’s White Paper identifies the world’s security, in general, and the region’s security, in particular were increasingly complicated. Notably, there was a potentially military conflict with China in the East China Sea. It also stated that Japan  increased its defence budget to 4.86 trillion Yen (48 billion USD) to modernize the Army’s weapons and equipment, while continuing to emphasize the strategic importance of the US - Japanese relations in maintaining security and stability of Japan and the region.

The U.S. Presidential Election draws special attention of the world. Never before has such a presidential election caused so much separation within the U.S.. Responding to Brexit and the “isolationist” policy possibly implemented by the  President-Elect Donald Trump, recently, the EU has announced its new global strategy on foreign and security policy. Accordingly, together with the unchanged strategic relationship with the NATO, the EU would focus on building its own independent security and defence structure. Many experts believe that this is a new signal for a new era of polarization between the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

2016 ended with a political and military picture of combined, complex “dark” and “bright” tones. That will affect, at various degrees, the world’s political and military situation in 2017. It is expected that countries, particularly major powers, should raise their responsibility towards the international community and strengthen solidarity and strategic trust on the basis of respecting one another, international law and the UN Chapter to promote similarities and mutual interests, narrow differences and settle disputes. Only by doing that, a solid foundation for a world of peace, stability and cooperation would be created.

Duc Minh

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