The great manoeuvres of 2017 and 2018 - a series

„A contemplation“ (4)

Horst Pleiner

The two great manoeuvres „Wostok 18“ und „RIMPAC 18“ already described underlined the present tension area Arctic, Far East and West Pacific, where the interest spheres of the three great powers China, Russia and the USA directly come together and frequently overlap in the framework of the contract systems originated there. Here, the political-strategic influencing circles of influence of the globally most important areas have touched each other, and it is becoming more and more obvious that Europe actually has the status of a side issue only, admittedly demonstrating enormous economic and technological capacities, but cannot and does not intend to appear as a globally effectual actor. The great powers in its periphery endeavour to cream off economic potentials and technological innovations and consider Europe a region for economic pervasion and exorbitant profits, but Europe itself has lost its opportunities for being a global player to a large extent. The failing of all previous attempts at “protecting the outside borders” underlines the demotion to a defensive and reactive strategy, provided one can talk about a common and sustainable strategy for Europe at all. Such strategies, however, have been made effective by the other great powers, such as the „One Road and Belt“ initiative, the „Made in China 2025“ program, or the entrance of China in Africa, the dynamic activities of Russia in the Near East as well as in Africa, or the objectives the USA pursue in an undulating “war of commerce” with their rivals. All these initiatives, however, are related with distinct, albeit differently fashioned military potential of the great powers as well as with the network of strategic treaties, and with the intention of actively yielding this military potential for power-political, foreign-political and foreign-economic-political purposes. Especially in this context, Europe has more or less withdrawn, apart from rare approaches (like in Libya 2011), and has rudimentarily tried to become a “teammate” in subareas only, with „RIMPAC 18“. Thus, the manoeuvres described so far as well as in the following demonstrate not only where, but also how the present “music” is performed. In future, especially the developments on this sector would be worth to be observed and analysed in detail. Exactly this is done in conclusion of the view on the great events of 2017 and 2018, together with an assessment of the present role of military reviews as well as with a general contemplation. Generally, manoeuvres improve military capabilities and at the same time demonstrate the dimension of these capabilities and their potential possibilities of use to certain addressees.

It becomes obvious that Europe does not represent the heart of all matter, although Europe still would like to consider itself as such. The relevant political-strategic conclusions of this fact ought to be drawn in a long-term foresight, and the relevant consequences considered. If such a perspective is not factored in, sometime Europe will awake in the situation of the “Golden Apple” which the Osmans reputedly wanted to possess centuries ago. The Osmans, however, will not be the ones then, and the courageous defenders will lack either.