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Thursday, January 16, 2020, 08:14 (GMT+7)
Some predictions of the world military and political situations in 2020

Continuing the transitional period from a unipolar to multipolar world, in 2020 the world military and political situations are anticipated to be characterized by strategic rivalry among Major Powers in the global hot spots.

The strategic rivalry between the U.S. and China

Regarding the U.S – China trade war, contrary to the statement of President Donald Trump of the delay of a trade deal with China after the general election in 2020, on 13th December 2019, both sides declared to reach the "Phase One" trade deal which consists of 9 contents, namely: intellectual property rights, technology transfer, food and agricultural products, financial services, exchange rate and transparency, trade expansion, bilateral assessment and dispute settlement. The deal has brought some optimism for easing the enduring trade tension which has badly affected the global market and world economic prospects. However, several contradictions and disagreements still persist between the two sides, stemming from the inherent differences between the two economies, and more importantly the fact that U.S wants to contain the China’s rise with a trade deal which is more advantageous to Washington.  The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act has been approved by the U.S. Senate on 17th December 2019 with measures for dealing with China threats, namely: (1) Assessing China’s foreign direct investment; (2) Assessing the direct and indirect effects of China’s foreign direct investment on the U.S. national security; (3) Limiting the right of the U.S. Department of Commerce to exclude China-based Huawei corporation from the “black list”; (4) Continue to strengthen defence and security cooperation with Taiwan; (5) Assessing China’s direct investments in the Artic countries; (6) Preventing China from intervening deeply into Hong Kong’s political and legal issues.

To compete with China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, from 2020, U.S will promote the implementation of the “Blue Dot Network” to facilitate the participation of the Indo-Pacific countries in the building of a sustainable infrastructure for both economic development and national security without falling into Beijing “debt trap”. At the same time, Washington will carry out two bills that have been approved by the House of Representatives in late 2019 to execute harder measures for dealing with China’s act of suppression of people in Hong Kong and the Uyghurs. Accordingly, the U.S will impose a ban on the export of non-lethal weapons to China and sanctions on Chinese officials allegedly violating human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Besides, for the first time in its history, NATO, under the leadership of the U.S, defined China’s rise as a security threat to this bloc. Therefore, since 2020, NATO will map out a plan to deal with such threat.

The strategic rivalry between the U.S. and Russia

Completely contrary to the President Donald Trump’s policy of improving relations with Russia to remove this country from Beijing’s orbit, in 2020 the U.S. will continue its strategic rivalry with Russia in many aspects.

On the Syria battlefield, the country of special importance to Russia in the Middle East, the most important agenda in 2020 will be the composition of the new Constitution which is the basis for the implementation of the Astana Peace Process co-supported by Russia, Iran, Turkey and agreed by the UN Security Council for ending the conflict and reconstructing Syria. However, the U.S. is trying to sabotage the agenda by refuting the conditions proposed by Syria, including: countering terrorism, removing sanctions and condemning Turkey’s military operation in  northeast Syria. Therefore, it is hard for the political process in Syria to make significant progress when the U.S. continues to base their troops in Syria.

In Europe, the U.S. and NATO will conduct the "Defender 2020" joint exercise with Europe with the participation of about 37,000 troops from January until May 2020. This is the biggest exercise that NATO has conducted during the past 25 years, which is similar to the “Reforger” exercise in the Cold War and will be a chance for the bloc to improve its combat capability and readiness to deal with the so called “Russian invasion threat”. At the same time, the U.S. will continue its sabotage on the “Nord Stream 2” Project transmitting gas from Russia to the “old continent”. In late 2019, U.S. Senate approved its defence budget bill for 2020 with provisions for sanctions against the oil tankers and managers involving in the project. In fact, this sabotage is aimed to regain the market for U.S. gas companies. In addition to these, there still remain a number of contradictions between two companies in the issues of Ukraine, Venezuela, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), or the suspected Russian intervention in the U.S. election, etc. In general, the U.S. – Russia relations will be hard to improve in 2020.

New dynamics in the global hot spots

First, in the Northeast Asia, the North Korea’s nuclear program will still be in deadlock. Recently, North Korea criticized U.S. of buying time in the negotiation rounds in order to gain domestic political advantages, first and foremost, the 2020 election campaign. On 14th December 2019, Pyongyang claimed a successful “crucial test” at its Sohae satellite launch site, further strengthening its nuclear deterrence. It is anticipated that in the coming time, Pyongyang will continue its ballistic missile tests and have tit for tat measures against U.S threats. According to South Korea’s position, the peace process on Korea peninsular must adhere to 3 principles, namely: avoidance of war; mutual security assurance; and common prosperity. South Korea will cooperate with U.S., China, Japan, and Russia to persuade North Korea to sit in negotiations for the comprehensive denuclearization and perpetual peace on the Korea peninsular. In that way, in 2020, it is very likely that North Korea will propose to resume the 6-party talks about its nuclear program. This assumption is based on the context that North Korea threatened to give up talk with the U.S. and look for a new way for denuclearisation unless Washington give out new proposals by the end of 2019.

The Middle East will continue to have instabilities. Besides the stagnant Syrian peace process in 2020, the deadlocked Libyan civil war, Iran will face much difficulty due to U.S sanctions against the country, firstly its energy industry. Experts predict that in 2020, Iran's economy will face a gloomier picture than in 2019, one of the worst years of Tehran’s authorities since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Iranian President Hassan Rohani announced that in 2020 its economy will become less dependent on oil, and the 2020 budget, including the USD 5-billion loan from Russia, will be the “budget of resistance” to deal with the utmost pressure and sanctions. In military aspect, to deal with the risk of war from U.S and allies, in 2020, Iran will receive the S-400 missile system from Russia. Besides, Iran is planning to acquire more multi-role Su-30 jet fighters, Yak-130 training planes, T-90 main battle tanks, and Bastion coastal defence missiles from Russia.

As for the Afghanistan hot spot, U.S. Department of State will continue its direct negotiations with Taliban. Up to date, the two sides have conducted 9 negotiation rounds in Doha (Qatar) and a number of other close meetings. Taliban committed only part of the cease fire and refused the direct talk with Afghanistan government until they reach an agreement with the U.S in 2020. U.S. may withdraw part of their troops in Afghanistan while conducting peace talks with Taliban. The only positive thing in the Middle East in 2020 may be a political solution for the war in Yemen as participants no longer end it through military means.

In Europe, in 2020, this Union will have to deal with new challenges, such as: (1) building a new military alliance which is independent from NATO, given its internal rift and increasingly bad relations with the U.S; (2) The instability resulting from Brexit; (3) Inconsistency during the implementation of the EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy; (4) Immigration waves from North Africa and Middle East accompanied with terrorism; (5) riots in France; (6) the threat resulting from the U.S. and Russia’s withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), one of the important treaties in maintaining EU and global security over the past 30 years.

As far as the Latin America is concerned, in 2020, Venezuela will gradually loosen it control over the market to facilitate economic growth after a long time of galloping inflation and economic downturn making millions of people flee the country. President Nicolas Maduro’s government will continue negotiations with the opponents to seek a solution for the political crisis. As for Bolivia, because President Evo Morales and Vice President Alvaro Linera have resigned, its Congress has elected the opponent congresswoman Jeanine Anez as provisional president, and made way for an early election to choose a new president to end the riots in this country. In 2020, under the support of Russia, China, EU and other countries, Cuba will surmount its difficulties, firstly the energy crisis, to deal with U.S. sanctions. In particular, EU will strengthen its political and economic relations with Cuba to counter adverse effects of the U.S.  Helms-Burton act which prevent foreign investments into the country. Moreover, Cuba will persist on its open door policy and its updated socialism model.

Thuy Duong

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