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Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 18:12 (GMT+7)
The world’s political and military picture in 2015

The world’s political and military picture in 2015 is the mixture of “dark” and “light” tones. There is a breakthrough in strengthening cooperation and lessening confrontation. However, the increase in race and religious conflicts, terrorism, territorial disputes over seas and islands has still caused chaos in many regions.

1. The trend of regional, global integration and cooperation in politics and security has developed into depth and practicalities.

The most notable event was that the P5 +1 countries and Iran, on July 14th 2015, reached a final comprehensive deal on Tehran nuclear program. This is a significant breakthrough that not only “defuses” the more than a decade potential nuclear crisis in the Middle East, but also makes contribution to resolving many related issues of regional and global security and stability. According to the deal, Iran would limit its nuclear program to civilian purposes under the international supervision. In return, the international community would lift their sanctions against Iran, facilitating this Islamic country’s reconnection to the region and the world. It was praised that the deal was a “historic” event in modern international relations and an unprecedented success of multilateral diplomacy in resolving one of the most dangerous conflicts, namely the “nuclear conflict”. It is also a good precedence bringing about prospects for resolving other “hot spots” in the world through peaceful and non-violent means. In 2015, the trend for cooperation and peaceful development among countries and regions has become an outstanding feature. Of which, attention is paid to the ASEAN countries, which are “sprinting” final steps to accomplish the building of an ASEAN Community (AC) with three pillars in the late 2015. International analysts believed that the establishment of the ASEAN Community is a significant milestone in the ASEAN history, making ASEAN an inter-governmental organization with deeper and tighter cooperation. Accordingly, it would better promote the Association’s leading role in connections of inner block and inter-regions to become an important element in maintaining peace, security, stability, and development of the region and the world.  Nevertheless, it is still open for cooperation with the outside and not a closed super state organization. In addition, the conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations between the U.S. and 11 Asia - Pacific countries has created favourable conditions for promoting connection and cooperation in trade, investment, and many other fields, which are beneficial to security and development of the trans-Pacific. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly held meetings on strengthening cooperation, promoting the role of the world’s largest organization in dealing with crises, assuring peace, security, stability and development of the world. Other political-military organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Arab League (AL), have also attached great importance to promoting cooperation in defence and military in order to enhance collaboration to cope with threats, particularly terrorism, environmental disasters, and so on.

Besides, bilateral relations have also seen positive developments. In this regard, countries have made an endeavor to avoid conflicts and reduce disagreements, promoting correspondences and shared interests to consolidate cooperation, serving their strategic goals and interests. Notably, the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba which ended the intense confrontation of the two former adversaries, opening a new chapter of peace, cooperation and development, bringing about benefits to security, stability and development of the continent and the world. According to international analysts, the above mentioned notes are the positive “side” of the world’s political and military picture in 2015. They are in accordance with the development trends of the times, namely avoiding confrontation, resolving disagreements and conflicts through peaceful measures, promoting peace, cooperation, and development; satisfying interests of relevant countries, and making significant contributions to maintaining security and peace for the region and the world. However, in addition to the “light” tone, there is still “dark” one that has not been lightened yet.

2. The increase in geopolitical contradictions among major powers, military conflicts, terrorist attacks, and dispute over sea and island sovereignty is the “dark” tone in the world’s political and military picture.

First and foremost is the intense geopolitical contradiction between the U.S., the European Union (EU) and Russia over Ukraine’s crisis. Whenever the situation in East Ukraine becomes “intense”, the U.S. and EU, as usual, accuse Russia of engaging in Ukraine and intensify their sanctions against Moscow. Despite the Russia’s rejection, the U.S. still accelerate the installing of the National Missile Defence (NMD) system in Europe; NATO continues to deploy troops, weapons, and equipment, and hold large-scale military exercises near Russia’s border, complicating the situation and worsening its relationship with Russia. Many experts believe that among major powers relations in 2015, the relations between the U.S., EU, NATO and Russia is the worst, which caused losses to related countries and to some extent had a negative impact on the world’s economy and politics. In addition, this year, while many enduring conflicts in Central Asia, Middle East, Africa have not yet been resolved, there have appeared many other armed conflicts, military coups, disputes over seas and islands, which have made the world’s politics and military “somberer”. Notably, the complicated developments in the East Sea, which caused concerns about maritime security and safety in this strategic sea. In Korean peninsula, the uneven, “hot and cold” status of the relationship between the two countries still continues and “rocks” the region and the world for many times. In the Middle East – North Africa, the military coup staged by the Houthi rebels to overthrow President Mansour Hadi caused a “fratricidal” disaster in Yemen with tens of thousands of dead and wounded, hundreds of villages and cities destroyed. Many experts are concerned that the conflict in Yemen will develop complicatedly. If there are no solutions, it could lead to a “sub regional” war that is extremely dangerous. Terrorism, especially the Self-Proclaimed Islamic State (IS) expands activities in Iraq, Syria, and a series of other countries in Middle East – North Africa, threatening security and stability of many countries and causing involvement of countries inside and outside the region in this “turbulence”. Conflict in Iraq, Libya, Syria and many other Middle East countries is the main reason for the largest ever European migrant crisis, causing “trouble” for both the European Union and the international community. In a worse scenario, terrorist organizations are expanding their area of operation, stretching their “octopus arms” across Europe, Asia, and other regions in the world. Many analysts warn that it is high time the world issued a “red warning” about the global threat of terrorism.

3. By adjusting their strategies, many countries wish to gain optimum edge in the time ahead.

In 2015, the U.S. released its National Security Strategy, Defense Strategy and Military Strategy. Those make up the three pillars in its policy on security. Russia released its new military theory. China first revealed its national military strategy. Japan passed national security strategy. In spite of differences in content due to each state’s goal and strength, it is clear to realize the following main points. First and foremost, regarding security environment, these countries’ strategies share a common viewpoint that the world situation is basically peaceful and stable. However, it is still complicated and unpredictable; there appear various challenges and threats to national security. Regarding opponents, in comparison with previous strategies, it was specified more clearly in the new ones. Since the end of the cold war, the US military strategy first determined that Russia and China are its potentially dangerous adversaries. Russia’s military theory determined that the US and NATO military presence in the areas near its border seriously threatens Moscow national security. Similarly, China’s military strategy and Japan’s national security strategy all specified their potential opponents. Regarding strategic method, these strategies all attach great importance to bringing into play the national overall strength, focusing on enhancing defence capability, building up the military strength, and also expanding international cooperation in defence and security. It is worth noting that the US military strategy advocates increasing budget for research and development to gain superiority in terms of military technologies, particularly in the aspects of early warning, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies, considering them as deciding elements in building up the US army. The U.S. also attaches great importance to promoting role of its allies, such as NATO, Japan, South Korea, and its partners, in order to share financial burden and support its military operations globally. Experts believe that the US military strategy could be the main reason that leads to a severe arms race and the competition for geostrategy and geopolitics between the U.S. and other major powers, which is not beneficial to security and stability of our region and the world.

The year 2015 passes with the expectation of a world of peace, stability, cooperation and development. However, there remains concern about a world of conflicts and instabilities. The question is "how will light and dark tones of 2015 affect the world in 2016?".

Duc Minh

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