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14th March 1999

Russia looks East

By Mervyn de Silva

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Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

On certain occasions, the editorialist, the speech-writer and the columnist find W.B. Yeats' words an irresistible 'quote'. Recently the Tory administration, assisted by its traditional foe, engaged in an exercise now popularly described as conflict resolution'. Yes, northern Ireland was "the longest war".

In what is often introduced as 'the post-Cold War", C.R. is as much an academic cottage industry as a full-time vocation for party leaders, prime ministers, ministers and their advisers. The European Union accuses the United States, now designated "the Sole Superpower" and unchallenged leader of the western alliance of 'Declaring war" over bananas. No, its no joke or slip. Its quite serious. Despite this allegation, Mr. Tony Blair, the British prime minister has called for "E.U. - NATO defence links, and NATO, and operational links to strengthen, the capability of the European Union". European defence will not become a reality until more E.U. countries have modernised their armed forces and made them more compatible. The prime minister's spokesman warned that there is a "sense in which people take for granted in problems like that. The Americans are always going to be there". In short, effective self-defence. He was in fact repeating an argument he had presented before...... Washington must be kept informed.... But a strong self-reliance program.

Russian reaction

How would Russia react? Russia had a challenger or an assertive or aggressive China, Moscow would be vulnerable. That would have been so if the China - Russia ideological war, and border disputes had been still raging. Russia's threat-perception would have been much sharper.

Just a few days ago, US counter-espionage arrested a suspected spy in the country's main weapons laboratory at Los Alamos. So we cannot any more think in terms of a bipolar world.... nor, as it is more popularly described, as unpopular, with the US as the authentic, lonely, superpower.

Consider Israel, which is widely regarded as a country with the scientific, technology and the personnel to construct a nuclear weapon, though the Western media, certainly the American, accuses Libya of having the capability to manufacture this weapon.

And why not when the US intelligence agencies declare that Mossad has taped private phone calls of President Clintons'. But the prime target of both the American media and official agencies are Iraq, Iran and Libya. Iraq has confirmed that its oil production, is curtailed.

NATO however is the main weapon of the sole superpower. This post-Cold War global structure and the strategies and policies adopted are aimed at Russia, China and Japan, though a one-dimensional superpower, economic.

Kosovo example

The Kosovo conflict has proved to be a moment of sudden illumination, to borrow a few words of Thomas Stearn Eliot. NATO is the weapon and instrument of coercive diplomacy. As a result this faceless NATO can cope with the problems and challenges of a greatly weakened Soviet Union which exposed its limitless capacity for disunion, and economic confusion. The ailing President Boris Yeltsin is a perfect symbol of Stalin's U.S.S.R. now reduced to a country that is still a superpower militarily but has many of the characteristics of a Third World country. Japan may be an economic superpower but not militarily.

India advances at its own pace, having joined the nuclear club recently. And yet it is a poverty-stricken country. It has the natural resources, the manpower and the scientific elite to acquire the status of a major power in the first decades of the 21st century like China, already clear of its goal. Japan is an economic superpower. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov the thinker, not ideologue nor commissar, plans to visit India, China and Japan in the near future. He has a fine mind; Pravda correspondent in Cairo, he was a Middle -east specialist, consulted by many a western ambassador.

The 21st century will be an Asian century. Civilisation must ultimately decide the new global power-structure. In any case Japan has proved already that it can compete with any rival. Civilisation must ultimately tell.

A geo-political shift, will result in a re-distribution of global power. It is almost inevitable. Euro Asian Soviet Union will now become a more distinctly Asian state.

If he has not changed much from his Cairo days - and I have met him only once in Moscow - Russian policy is destined for radical change.

What finally is the message?

Follow US strategy, Albright urges NATO... future threats Require New Vision, says Albright, is the headline to a Brussels datelined despatch from William Drozdiak of the Washington Post.

Hulftsdorp Hill

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