As a blanket of fog surrounds many countries, one must be careful while driving; both a vehicle and a nation because anything can happen. Within this foggy ambiance, many speculate the road ahead while many, reckless as ever, prepare for impact with unknown objects. However, there are some who may seem reckless and may be indicating signs of panic or extreme carelessness, though they know exactly what they are doing and quite amazing enough, they seem to be looking forward to a wonderful experience ahead with much anticipation and eagerness. Such states are amazing paradoxes; entities that make joy and fun out of apparent panic and where I personally respect such states, I feel, with a slight tinge of exaggeration or if I may say so rather boldly, that they may just change the course of history.
The concepts like deterrence and soft power have morphed into something for which many nations were prepared theoretically but not on a practical scale. They had all the research regarding the change of dynamics but just did not know where to experiment. China took the lead by showing the world how, without huge nuclear stockpiles or advanced weapon systems, a nation can assimilate other nations with a simple principle; ‘Money makes the mare go’. Offering Europe to buy their debt, increasing economic ties with major South Asian nations, ignoring and bypassing WTO restrictions and expanding avenues in Africa, working on the New Silk Route, making it impossible for major American corporations to neglect the production lines offered by Beijing and in all this, expanding its Air Defense Zone on the disputed South China Sea to let the world know that there is more to China than mere production lines. With many nations now obliged to Chinese mass production scales and growing economy, little effort can be made to persuade China from backing away from its stance on South China Sea and the disputed set of islands.
Opposing the Chinese influence is the not so Pacific Ocean, with its not so pacific contents and among them, Shinzo Abe’s Japan. A nation that has placed a little too much confidence on the American defenses but with a relatively slumping economy and a population growth eyeing to achieve new heights in the negative index, Japan is not what the world thinks it is. With Abe’s Japan desperately trying to convert its self-defense forces into what it used to be in the days of the Empire, it also seems worried as to what China and more importantly, North Korea wants. With frequent aggression from North Korea and China ready to counter Japan whenever they feel like, Abe’s Japan seems far from a pacific solution to the problem. Where Japan has relatively less to offer to China and nothing to offer to North Korea, its Self Defense Forces have little or no say in the matter and clearly her allies are busy elsewhere.
Dennis Rodman has made his second, maybe third, visit to North Korea which has absolutely no point at all but as long as Kim Jong Un likes meeting his favorite basketball player, who cares! From threatening to annihilate South Korea to launching satellites that lose their orbital grip over planet Earth and go bonkers in free space, North Korea is the ‘Israel of the Far East’. With his uncles and a few friends out of the way, Kim Jong Un has ensured longevity of his regime. Where no one clearly knows as to why many next of kin were eliminated, little can be said about Kim’s playground but as long as he is having a time of his life, maybe North Korea doesn’t care after all. Seeing Un’s North Korea, one does realize how it feels to be a king and what the term ‘crazy with power’ looks like. Nevertheless, the North Korean behavior, reckless and careless as it may seem, does tend to display a remarkable credibility in its communicated deterrence to states that were once more than eager to settle this case once and for all.
On the other hand, for once the Indian Prime Minister was seen breaking the silence barrier and stating that ‘Pakistan would never win as long as he is alive’. We may never know how long he plans to live with a heart that has undergone a Coronary Artery Bypass but if this is the ‘deterrence’ that India calls ‘minimum credible’, their doctrine doesn’t wish PM Manmohan a long life. No matter what the nuclear doctrines say, I on behalf of Pakistan would wish him the best of health and a prosperous life in the future. Where there are plans to erect a mini Wall of China between India and Pakistan and simultaneously missions to Mars and aircraft carriers in the Arabia Sea, as well as ICBMs, there is no negative sentiment in appreciating the fact that India has successfully entered the race of the big leagues. Where Pakistan is still struggling to define what approach it is to adopt in the current scenario without a defense minister and a foreign minister, the Prime Minister seems confident enough that he can wear several caps on one head. With unemployment and illiteracy assisting high inflation, the opposition believes like the gospel truth that they are designed to stay away from positive criticism. Deterrence in this region is as foggy as the road of Lahore and the diplomatic relations are as cold as the Himalayas.
Those who want to see what negotiations in good faith look like, please avoid looking at what Iran and the major nuclear negotiators do in their leisure time. Where the world saw six months of successive compliance a little too short a deadline, Iran showed what little or no compliance really means; not more than three weeks from the wonderful handshake and a promise to offer it’s sincerest of intentions, the negotiations derailed like the usual habit. Where it may have failed to break any hearts or hopes, it did succeed in breaking the said compromises. We may never know what Iran really wants, maybe more financial assistance or to be used as an alternative NATO supply route or even security assurances from its Middle East adversaries but as long as this hide and seek infuriates Benjamin Netanyahu and forces him to pass comments that increase Israel’s diplomatic confusions, I feel Iran is right on course. This may seem like bungee jumping without the rope from the Mount Everest but it is deterring many nations from connecting all their intervention zones in Middle East by including Iran in the list this Christmas.
We may never know what is happening in the world and why nations are stringent to their own style of dealing with issues but one thing is for sure; in this intensely provocative environment, one can pin little hope to increase in state tolerance and one must brace for impact, as nuclear winters are often the longest and the hardest. On a more lighter note, this is why aliens have always avoided Planet Earth.