The strategic situation at the turn of the year

Lothar Rühl

In the course of the conflicts characterizing the political world affairs of 2019, which have continued without any solutions for the problems having risen for years, the looming shadow of a global climatic catastrophe travelled along the horizon of Europe because of the extreme heat of the second consecutive arid summer. If this shadow spreads over the continents and oceans, the basic assumptions of human action will change radically. Central America as well as the Caribbean Sea, the southeast of the USA, Australia and large parts of Africa have been affected by this development for years – the global South as a whole. In Africa, the desert, following the steppization, has spread unchecked due to sand storms and soil erosion. South America will be threatened by a similar development, if slash-and-burn in the rain forest is not stopped. In 2019, Siberia in Russia had to endure forest fires covering 3,500.000 square kilometres already by the end of July. In Africa, the petering out of wellsprings and the spreading phreatic decline drive away the population over vast distances, and this has become the moving power of a new migration to the north. One part of the South-East-Asian islands is endangered, too. A current example is the imminent partial sinking of the Indonesian main island Java. The fast-paced spreading of metropole regions with two-digit million numbers of inhabitants contributes to the crisis potential faced by “good administration”. In these mega-concentrations, which have hollowed out the administrations in South America, Africa and Asia for years, and rendered them ineffective, where gang violence and gang wars have been opposed against governmental authorities, thus causing permanent shambles similar to civil war, the public essentials cannot be used for socially tolerable distribution, careful use and fair maintenance, in order to maintain public welfare. Not only liberal democracies, but also all variants of authoritarian regimes are threatened by this critical development. Egypt has been an example for this for years and North Korea for decades. This development confronts all nations, both their home affairs and their international relations. Here, the forces acting destructively against the – mostly conjured up – “stability” of the conditions as the pillars of peace and security between the “nations”, and of the global responsibilities of the “powers”, add another serious cause for anarchy. Although a breakdown of the international security structures were not imminent in 2019, the advancing paralysis of the international organisations in international crises and for “humanitarian interventions” in inner conflicts, which had been a major characteristic in the second half of the 20th century, existed in 2019 already. The three superpowers with global importance, the USA, China and Russia, inhibit each other concerning their geopolitical positions and their strategies. None of these powers has won additional influence since the beginning of China’s strategy of expansion, which goes beyond the marginal oceans in the direction of Africa, as well as across Central Asia in the direction of Europe. The future correlation, however, the strengths between the three powers, as well as their strategies and other geopolitical factors, still remains indeterminable, and thus also the distribution of potency and influence, for instance by the economic and political impact of the Chinese project “New Silk Road” leading across land and sea. The „strategic independence“, which has been conjured up by the USA since the end of the East-West-Conflict, and not only since the Donald Trump administration, by virtue of the European Security and Defence Policy agreed in the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, by some debaters even called “European Army” or “European Defence”, is still a faraway goal, which is not aimed at by all member states of the EU neither, and in reality not even by a majority, because most EU partners want their security and independence best shielded by the American power within NATO. A much stronger effect might have the perception of American politics and rhetoric in Beijing. Up to now, a consistent and conclusive strategy of the USA for “Containment”, for the containment of the Chinese expansion tendency across the ocean to Africa, and across the Eurasian continent as well as across the Middle East and Turkey to Europe, in order to be able to use and control large harbours (such as Piraeus and Duisburg), or to transfer technology by means of possessing industries and acquisition of arable farm land in Africa, has yet not become obvious. So the question still remains whether the USA are still interested in Europe as a ideally matched and useful partner. Thus, political decisions with strategic range by Washington, Brussels, Paris, London, or Berlin, are not to be expected in Europe, due to the incalculable and probable warps caused by “Brexit” and the trade conflicts, especially between the USA and China.