By Saurav Raj Pant (KATHMANDU, 14 February 2019) – We are living in more heighten time of the militarized world. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports, that the estimated worldwide military spending to have reached $1.7 trillion in 2017 in contrast to the UN Peace Keeping Mission annual budget for the year 2018 is $6.7 billion.
This gives a blissful sense of humankind’s love towards preparedness for war. Do absolute peace is possible? History suggested that human civilization is full of bloody war and conflicts. Every empire rose into the prominence of superpower status via war. Roman Empire emerged as an ultimate power after Punic War III by defeating Carthage and the US became the greatest superpower after WWII.
All empire rose to power was not peaceful. Analyst comments, whether China rise will be peaceful or not? According to the Uppsala University Conflict data program, Humanity is living in a more peaceful time in human history. But, this data only gives a sketch of peaceful time but lapses on the preparedness of war. Future preparedness of war is far more dangerous than ongoing war. Let’s take an example; NASA receives just 0.4% out of $4.407 trillion 2019 federal budget whereas the Defense Department of the US receives 13% of the federal budget.
The US government stress on the defense system is all about global dominance. But, the US government is even influenced by doing so. Those are the deep state’s actors (military contractors, lobbyist, and business tycoons) who influence the US Senate in policymaking. In 2017, Lockheed Martin received its 87% out of total revenue from the US government. In the simplest form, the US had been defeated in the war of Afghanistan and Iraq but military contractors profited a lot from this war. The longest war means the largest flow of weapons and it exactly means more tax to the government and revenue to the company. So, fundamental aspects of above approach is war and to do it in best way every country is in frequent motion to advance their defense system.
After 2008, China, Russia, and India had increased their military expense by 110 times to $228 billion, 36 times to $69.4 billion and 45 times to $66.3 billion respectively. Although US military spending has decreased by 14%, it is still the highest spender on military around the world—2.7 times more than China. Addition to this, Saudi Arabia’s military expenditure had increased by 21% after 2014—making more war preparedness country in the Middle East as it is the regional hegemonic, its increased military spending has a huge impact on the geopolitics of Middle East.
Saudi Arabia’s potential military preparedness put the notion of derailing Iranian influence in the region. In this potential detaining game, the US is emerging as a partner after recent Mike Pompeo visit to 8 Arabian countries. In his speech at Cairo, Pompeo suggested for a regional military alliance with Israel lead by Saudi Arabia countering Iran. This new developments and militarized Saudi is potential new power dynamics in the Middle East.
Advancing military capabilities by the state makes them to engage more on global and regional affairs to show their rising presence. The recent Venezuela crisis could spillover impact on oil resulting in cut-off Iran-Venezuela nexus in OPEC; putting Iran as a sole anti-US bloc country in the group. This would probably magnify Saudi and UAE influence on OPEC in dealing with Iran (as Iran loses its Latin-American ally in the oil group).
This is more water-shed to Russia as it will have pressure to deal directly to Saudi and UAE rather than Iran as Russian will have comparative advantage strategy —because of their(Saudi-UAE) wider regional coverage. Taking advantage of it, Saudi is now transforming as a diversified economy (not rely only on oil) and militarized.
Former US president Obama strategy in the Middle East was to de-isolate Iran so as to have a better deal after providing offer to her but Trump’s Middle East ‘Grand Strategy’ followed by recent Mike Pompeo’s geopolitical hackathon to 8 Arab countries is about military alliance to contain Iran where possible Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance are on a table to limit Iranian influence in the region.
The recent plan of US withdrawal from Syria is a tactics to derail Turkey-Russia-Iran growing cohesion. The US has support for YPG Kurds in the Syrian war and Turkey regards YPG as its foe. Kurds urged the Syrian government and Moscow for ‘protection’ from possible Turkey’s threat after US withdrawal. This has a prospect of Turkey-Russia collide for YPG issues and remaining Arab nations including the US may gain some ‘cherries’ in this geopolitical great game. All these geopolitical games have been increasing the race for the more militarized world.
Is Kantian peace possible?
The recent Munich Security 2019 report stressed the ever-changing global dynamics with one era is coming to an end and for now, new geopolitical age are visible followed by global distortion in the global order.
The recently suspended INF treaty put the global risk of increasing nuclear stockpiles. After Trump’s ‘confused approach’ in world politics, the vacuum has been created disrupting the traditional western alliance. In the meantime, Germany and France are looking for more independent roles in the world politics; free of American protection. One of the recent examples is INSTEX. INSTEX— which is a new payment gateway to trade and exchanges (especially food and medicines to Iran on the humanitarian ground between European countries and Iran and has been initiated by Germany, France and UK seems an issue based polarization between EU and the US on Iran. Following the events, the US had said it has been observing the developments closely unless it breaches the US standards of restriction by the US on Iran.
Recently, Trump had said the US forces need to stay in Iraq to closely watch Iran. Addition to this, Trump administration has said it has all options on the table about Venezuela—the global geopolitics has been struck on Iran & Venezuela (both oil-rich countries). Trump’s approach on world politics is complex and it is paying off more than profiting to the US. More than that, it has been alienating its European allies.
According to famous German Philosopher Immanuel Kant, “States are either at war or living in a de facto peace, unstable and precarious”. In his realism, war is a natural process but it should not lead the moral or legitimate justification for this. So, he rather advocated for the legal state jurisdiction relationship among the states guided to avoid war. That is why; Post-1945 world order greatest achievement is rule-based multilateral commitments. But, what would happen if powerful countries voluntarily withdraw from such committeemen’s (e.g. INF, Climate Change, WTO) and increasingly militarized by spending massively on defense system and distorting the traditional alliance of the West? West will increasingly come under continuous friction between the rising Asian powers with ever increasing threats of wars.
The ever increasing threats of war means more militarized world and at some point of time, it wouldn’t be surprised if states breaks their voluntary commitments’ towards International law—-triggering the ‘hard-line conflict’. So, let us adjust the military defense system on certain ‘stock piles’ level to avoid ultimate war. Then, only Kantian peace is possible.