How cascading turbulence may impact foreign relations

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Oct 30, 2023
Smoke rising from the Gaza Strip due to Israeli bombardment on October 29. (AFP Photo)

The global strategic landscape at present defies description. Words such as “polycrisis”, “black swan” and “cataclysm” are thrown about by scholars, yet each one of them is promptly rendered obsolete by the next emerging crisis. Not so long ago it was the pandemic, just yesterday it was the war in Ukraine, and today it is the imbroglio in Gaza. This level and scale of cascading strategic turbulence is truly unprecedented.

The above conundrum poses serious challenges to politicians and diplomats alike. The first implication of this is that policy makers can only think of tactical responses to events and there is simply no time to conceive of strategic policy responses. Second, most countries simply do not have the strategic bandwidth to deal with multiple crises all at once. Even the most preeminent global power, namely, the US, suffers from this disability. Third, the cumulative impact of the multiple crises is to introduce an element of instability and unpredictability in the world order seldom seen before. Finally, at a time when international organisations are needed like never before, they have simply not risen to the challenge. This is as true of the United Nations Security Council as it is of the Bretton Woods Institutions or indeed the World Trade Organization. There is a structural deficit when it comes to global cooperation.

The outsized influence of geopolitics on diplomacy, foreign and security policy has been the dominant feature of the past few years, and it is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. This means that the world order, such as it is, may fracture even further leading to discrete blocs. Furthermore, geopolitics will strongly impact the military aspects of international relations. Thus, in security terms it will become sharply evident that China-Russia-Iran will constitute an axis even as the US, NATO and EU draw closer. Major theatres of military action will continue to be Ukraine and Gaza; but Taiwan will always be susceptible to a hair trigger response by China. While these three theatres are most liable to implosion, other sub-theatres cannot be overlooked: the Sino-Indian border, the Korean peninsula and the East/South China Sea. Incessant conflicts in multiple theatres will stretch geopolitics to breaking point with serious repercussions for the emerging world order.

Geopolitics will also strongly impact the global economy and trade. It is a fact that escalating geopolitical tensions pose a threat to the global financial system amid risk of higher inflation and slower economic growth. Borrowing costs have surged globally and in the event of inflationary pressures, there are possibilities of market volatility and significant slowdown of the global economy. The integrity of the multilateral trading system has been under assault and there is no sign it will recover. Resilient trade and preferential supply chains will rule the roost, at least for critical minerals and sensitive emerging technologies.

China is so big that what happens there seldom stays there. So, China's economy slowing down in ways not previously imagined is bad news for the global economy. It remains to be seen how bad this is from a domestic perspective and whether parts of the Chinese society can bear the pain. An ageing population, a real estate sector which is cratering, and significant youth unemployment are not trifling matters. It is a fair bet that China may turn even more assertive when it comes to protecting its core interests. This Chinese assertion will be felt mainly, but not exclusively, by the US, EU, Taiwan, Japan and India.

There are serious attempts afoot by both the US and China to lower tensions in the relationship. There is a strong possibility of a Joe Biden-Xi Jinping tete-a-tete in November on the sidelines of the APEC summit in California. This might help establish some guardrails so that competition in the Sino-US relationship does not veer towards conflict. That said, China will continue to be a pacing threat for the US.

India has done an excellent job so far of navigating this treacherous strategic landscape. India did well in confronting the challenges posed by the pandemic and carried out a difficult balancing act in the case of the war in Ukraine. So far, we have extended enthusiastic support to Israel in the wake of terrorist attacks by Hamas, even while lending our muted support to the Palestinian cause and to the two-state solution. It is hard to speculate what will eventually happen in Ukraine and Gaza, but India's strategic space may well shrink if these two conflicts continue indefinitely. This will have serious implications for our ties with Russia and perhaps more importantly, with China. India also needs to preserve the recent gains made in its ties with both UAE and Saudi Arabia. All this will need deft handling.

What of the global problems such as climate change, public health, food security and terrorism? The sad truth is that these may take a back seat in the wake of rising geopolitical tensions. With US-China ties at its worst, it would be naïve to expect China to help meet the Western goal of dramatic reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. It is equally clear that China is least interested in an impartial investigation into the origins of the Covid virus which led to the global pandemic. Similarly, Russia with implicit support from China, may not be inclined to a diplomatic solution especially now that the much-vaunted Ukrainian counter-offensive has failed to take off. The UN's ambitious Agenda 2030 is in trouble and the achievement of sustainable development goals will need massive financing and extension of deadlines.

In sum, geopolitics will continue to reign supreme. One should expect more strategic turbulence. Conducting diplomacy and executing foreign policy will require agility and skill like never before for states such as India.

Dr Mohan Kumar is former Indian ambassador to France and dean/professor at OP Jindal Global University. The views expressed are personal.

Source: Hindustan Times
Related Posts:

Comment on Post

Leave a comment

If you have a News HTS user account, your address will be used to display your profile picture.

POPULAR News

icon
Bussiness She moved to the US from India at a tender age of 11. She was just 15 when she launched her technology startup. She now employs 10 people in her firm, valued at a whopping ₹100 crore. This is the life story of Pranjali Awasthi, the 16-year-old Indian protégé who has proved age is merely a number when it comes to entrepreneurship.
icon
Bussiness The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has chosen to delegate the taxation of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA), which is used for the manufacture of portable alcohol, to the states. Furthermore, it has reduced the levy rates on millet flour and molasses.
icon
Bussiness Bengaluru: As part of its pre-Series B funding round, elder care platform Age Care Labs has raised $11 million in fresh capital from fintech unicorn Zerodha's investment arm Rainmatter Capital and proptech investment firm Gruhas. Bengaluru: As part of its pre-Series B funding round, elder care platform Age Care Labs has raised $11 million in fresh capital from fintech unicorn Zerodha's investment arm Rainmatter Capital and proptech investment firm Gruhas.
icon
Latest News Ed Sheeran noted that he's hosted friends' weddings in the area. Ed Sheeran noted that he's hosted friends' weddings in the area. Ed Sheeran noted that he's hosted friends' weddings in the area. Ed Sheeran noted that he's hosted friends' weddings in the area.
icon
World The United States warned against any "escalation" in the Middle East in the wake of Israel's war with Hamas, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday, hours after the Pentagon moved to step up military readiness in the region. The United States warned against any "escalation" in the Middle East in the wake of Israel's war with Hamas, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday, hours after the Pentagon moved to step up military readiness in the region.
icon
Technology Instagram is not working on a dedicated app for iPad users and they shouldn't expect one anytime soon. That's the message directly from Adam Mosseri, who claims the company has other priorities before launching the app for iPad. Instagram is not working on a dedicated app for iPad users and they shouldn't expect one anytime soon. That's the message directly from Adam Mosseri, who claims the company has other priorities before launching the app for iPad.
icon
Sports Asian Games, Javelin Throw Highlights: Neeraj Chopra Claims Gold With 88.88m Throw, Kishore Jena Bags Silver
icon
Latest News As excitement brews for Amazon's highly anticipated Prime Big Deal Days, this piece of advice by the company's founder and executive chairman, Jeff Bezos, is something every consumer should keep in mind amid economic uncertainties. In an interview with CNN, Bezos expressed concerns about the current economic landscape, stating, "Things are slowing down. You're seeing layoffs in many sectors of the economy."
icon
Technology YouTube on Monday said it did not detect materials related to child sexual abuse on its platform despite multiple probes and also has not received evidence of such content on the video streaming platform from regulators. YouTube on Monday said it did not detect materials related to child sexual abuse on its platform despite multiple probes and also has not received evidence of such content on the video streaming platform from regulators.
icon
Latest News Vijay Dashmi is a major cultural festival in India. Vijay Dashmi is a major cultural festival in India. Vijay Dashmi is a major cultural festival in India. Vijay Dashmi is a major cultural festival in India. Vijay Dashmi is a major cultural festival in India.
icon
Technology Google Pixel Launch Event 2023 Live Updates: Can Google Pixel 8 Take On iPhone 15? Updated 9 minutes ago
icon
Latest News
icon
Technology Grand Theft Auto fans are mercilessly mocking a GTA VI (GTA 6) leaker for their inaccurate predictions of the announcement date. Grand Theft Auto fans are mercilessly mocking a GTA VI (GTA 6) leaker for their inaccurate predictions of the announcement date.
icon
Technology Alphabet Inc.'s Google will begin to make its Chromebook laptops in India through a partnership forged with HP Inc. Alphabet Inc.'s Google will begin to make its Chromebook laptops in India through a partnership forged with HP Inc. Alphabet Inc.'s Google will begin to make its Chromebook laptops in India through a partnership forged with HP Inc.
icon
Life Style Discover an array of captivating restaurants and exciting events that beckon you to indulge in unforgettable experiences. From culinary gems offering delectable dishes to cultural exhibitions celebrating artistry and heritage, these venues promise to satisfy your senses. Whether you're a food enthusiast seeking gourmet delights or an art aficionado craving inspiration, there's something for everyone to savor. Embark on a journey of taste, culture, and entertainment at these must-visit destinations.
icon
Horoscope National Boyfriend's Day is a special occasion celebrated annually on October 3rd. It's a day dedicated to appreciating and honouring boyfriends around the world. On this day, people take the opportunity to express their love, gratitude, and affection for their significant others, acknowledging the love and support they provide in their lives. Whether through thoughtful gestures, kind words, or memorable gifts, National Boyfriend's Day is a chance to celebrate the important men in our lives and the meaningful connections we share with them. It's a day to show just how much they mean to us.
icon
Latest News A video capturing impatient passengers rushing to enter a train through a narrow opening of the door, each vying for a coveted spot inside, was shared online. The video was posted on Reddit with a caption that reads, “Automatic door in Mumbai trains.” The clip shows how the passengers hurled themselves through the half-open doors.
icon
Horoscope A post shared by Mariana Louis (@persephonessister) A post shared by Mariana Louis (@persephonessister) A post shared by Mariana Louis (@persephonessister) A post shared by Mariana Louis (@persephonessister) A post shared by Mariana Louis (@persephonessister)
icon
Technology Google is said to be in the works to introduce emojis as a means to reply to emails instead of composing a complete response for Gmail users. According to reports, the tech giant is currently in the process of integrating the feature to express reactions to emails through emojis directly within the Gmail platform.
icon
Latest News Delhi High Court directed both platforms to refrain from using each other's copyrighted material Delhi High Court directed both platforms to refrain from using each other's copyrighted material Delhi High Court directed both platforms to refrain from using each other's copyrighted material
icon
World Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday alleged babies were murdered and burned by Hamas terrorists during their onslaught against Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday alleged babies were murdered and burned by Hamas terrorists during their onslaught against Israel.
icon
Latest News Humans of Bombay (HOB) recently filed a case in Delhi High Court against People of India (POI) over protecting their intellectual property. The platform's founder Karishma Mehta has now taken to Instagram to address the controversy around the case and also inform that the court has ‘upheld their contentions'.
icon
Life Style In a world where traditional work norms and relentless work hours have been the norm, a new trend is emerging that challenges these conventions and is poised to reshape India's workforce. Dubbed the “lazy girl job,” this trend champions work-life balance, defying the old paradigm of relentless work hours and potential burnouts. It has the potential to not only change the way we work but also transform gender inclusion and the gig economy.
icon
Latest News Pietro, a German Shepherd in the Carmel Police Department, is receiving tons of love on social media. The dog lent a paw to his human partner for a very important mission. He helped round up 30 goats running loose in a street in New York. A video of the dog on duty was also captured and later shared online.
icon
Latest News The luxurious home has also been featured as the location for other TV projects. The luxurious home has also been featured as the location for other TV projects. The luxurious home has also been featured as the location for other TV projects. The luxurious home has also been featured as the location for other TV projects.