These days politicians are so convicted that their opinions are correct that they don’t hesitate to dissemble any facts that are contrary to their position. They always make loud statements. However, at times their words and actions do not jibe. It involves trouble for nations and more for whole regions. And that is particularly true for the Indo-Pacific region, where many countries have their own great ambitions and also have enough military power to achieve their objectives.
The world in which we live is in a state of unstable equilibrium. It seems that by the end of 2022 there will be so many unresolved issues between states, organizations, and individual political movements on our planet that any careless action – a loud statement, a provocative state visit, or a deliberate provocation – could activate an irreversible and destructive mechanism of war. World leaders talk incessantly about the importance of stabilizing the situation and avoiding the escalation of conflicts. But all this pacifism and claims of humanity have not stopped the leading players in the political arena from continuing to build up their military might.
A region of dormant threats
Although real fighting is presently concentrated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region remains the region with the greatest number of potential conflicts. The main problematic issue in the region remains, of course, the situation around Taiwan, but there are other equally important and dangerous areas. These include the lack of a clear agreement on the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, China’s border dispute with India in Ladakh, the eternal enmity of two sister nations, North Korea and South Korea, and Japan’s territorial claims to neighbouring states, which are all worthy of a separate story. It is worth mentioning the semi-internal conflicts such as South Tibetan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang-Uygur, and Myanmar.
Adding fuel to fire
While it may seem that leaders should be more careful and cautious in their statements and actions in a situation such as this where any careless action could trigger a serious conflict in the region, let us look at what is actually happening. For example, South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Yong-se said in an interview with Yonhap news agency that the South Korean authorities would have to consider building their own nuclear weapons, returning US tactical nuclear weapons, or the concept of “joint use of nuclear weapons” if public opinion on the issue were to change.
For a start, it is necessary to understand how exactly the South Korean authorities intend to circumvent the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Will they do it in the same way as Israel and North Korea did? Or will they have to ask the United States to deploy its nuclear warheads on the peninsula? Truth be told, such an option would be an ideal plot for Washington. The White House, in its attempts to counter Beijing’s growing influence, has long been trying to militarise the region in any way it can. The US is even prepared to take extreme measures to achieve its goal. Reference is made to the establishment of the AUKUS organization and the joint plans of Washington and London for the transfer of nuclear technology to Canberra with the further construction of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
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AUKUS activities in the region in general raise many questions. The bloc was originally designed to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific region but the only thing it has brought is additional international tension. However, at the present stage, one of the tasks of AUKUS remains to expand and enlist as many allies as possible to counter Beijing. The Republic of Korea with its ambitions to become a nuclear power is one of the potential candidates. Seoul is not embarrassed by the fact that Washington is not currently taking any real action to help its allies, but is merely postponing the announced deadline for supplying submarines to the region. Thus, the suggestion is that due to the excessive workload of the US military-industrial complex, which is focused on military assistance to Ukraine, and also because of the shortage of manpower, deliveries of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia will have to be postponed from 2030 to 2040.
It seems that justifying the existence of a North Korean, Chinese, or Russian threat is a way to implement the most criminal scenarios in today’s world. After all, if there is a conventional enemy, it is fine to use any means against him. But it is not necessary to understand how real this “enemy” is and how real the threat posed by this enemy is. All that is needed is a loud statement, a willingness to invest substantial sums of money, and approval from Washington. The sad thing is that with such an approach the construction of a secure world order with equal rights for all its participants can be forgotten.
A spark causes a fire
So it turns out that there are only two alternatives. First, real security and stability with parity between the two different systems (meaning a communist-authoritarian and a democratic-capitalist system). And second, nominal security, in which everyone will continue to talk about the importance of de-escalation of tensions, but will not for a moment stop building up their own military capabilities and militarizing the region.
It should be well understood that sooner or later this kind of double-standard policy will fail. The lessons of world history inevitably prove it. It is very important to stop in time and think about it. It seems that it is time to stop just making loud statements.
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