The world is waiting to see whether the Taliban has changed or not, if so to what extent. Countries involved in Afghan affairs know that they would not witness fundamental change but hope for a move towards minimum moderation. The question is for how long they would wait and see.
Last week, in remarks to the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan, UN Secretary General Guterres said:
“Even before the dramatic events of the last weeks, Afghans were experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.”
The “rules-based international order” is now a recurrent theme in policy statements by senior officials of the Biden administration.
Secretary Blinken, meeting with his Chinese counterparts in Anchorage on March 18, 2021, started the talks by saying that the rules-based international order is not an abstraction; that it helps countries resolve differences peacefully, coordinate multilateral efforts effectively, and participate in global commerce with the assurance that everyone is following the same rules; that the alternative to a rules-based order would be a far more violent and unstable world for everyone.
Following the Second World War, the standoff between the US and Russia, NATO and the Warsaw Pact was called the Cold War. Nonetheless, in 1969, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed. The same year, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) were launched. These talks led to Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1972. Thus, East-West relations moved beyond Khrushchev’s “peaceful co-existence” to a period of “détente”.
In September 1990, Congress of People’s Deputies voted for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This marked the end of a bipolar world and the beginning of a unipolar one, of US supremacy.
On February 19, President Biden addressed the global community for the first time. At 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference he defined the partnership between Europe and the US as the cornerstone of all that the West hopes to accomplish in the 21st century, just as it did in the 20th century. He said, “I know — I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined — determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.” (emphasis added)
He expressed his strong belief that democracy will and must prevail.
The main foreign policy topics of the past decade have been China’s ascendancy, relations between the West and a resurgent Russia, the rise of authoritarianism, democracy’s decline, the failure of multilateralism and climate change. With the Trump White House, most of the questions raised in recent years focused on Washington. People started asking “what went wrong?” to use the title of Bernard Lewis’s remarkable book on the clash between Islam and modernity in the Middle East. Pundits in the West, including the US, started talking about Washington’s external military interventions and their political/diplomatic/economic cost, racism, gridlock. Some of the questions raised went beyond the Trump years. With major foreign and security policy challenges and 251,000 new coronavirus cases recorded last Friday, Mr. Biden will not be moving to a dream house on January 20.
Following the Belarus presidential election, protesters took to the streets claiming that the result was rigged. With Ukraine conflict continuing across the border, theirs was an act of courage. Riot police reacted with violence. President Lukashenko has been in power for 26 years and foreign election observers have been barred since 1995. Two days after the election, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, left Belarus for neighboring Lithuania. From safety in Vilnius she said, “The Belarusian people are no longer afraid. We will win.”Okumaya devam et →
China had a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s. Xi Jinping became president in 2012. In April this year, the National People’s Congress approved the removal the two-term limit, effectively allowing him to “remain in power for life”.
China is one of world’s leading powers. Henry Kissinger has said, “No other country can claim so long a continuous civilization, or such an intimate link to its ancient past and classical principles of strategy and statesmanship.” However, without even an interlude of democracy in its history, China has failed to make progress in that direction and President Xi’s two terms in office are no exception. Okumaya devam et →
The end of the Cold War raised hopes for a more peaceful and stable world with the “international community” collectively confronting global challenges. This proved a myth. After three decades, all we hear now is Cold War II, which essentially means that world’s major powers have failed to redefine their self-centered foreign and security policy priorities and their relationships. Okumaya devam et →
In April 2017, President Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for a two-day summit at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. After their meeting, Mr. Trump spoke of “tremendous progress” in the U.S.-China relationship. A year later, the Trump administration announced sweeping tariffs on Chinese imports. The trade war escalated with more tariffs and Chinese retaliation. In December 2018, the chief financial officer Huawei was arrested in Canada at Washington’s request. The trade war intensified. In November 2019, President Trump signed a bill supporting Hong Kong protesters.
At present, the focus is on Hong Kong because China plans to push through, at this year’s China’s National People’s Congress, sweeping national security laws for Hong Kong to bar subversion, separatism or acts of foreign interference against the central government. Critics say this will effectively end the territory’s democracy and autonomy. Okumaya devam et →