Experts say the Ukrainian crisis has added fuel to superpowers` geopolitical struggle. According to media reports, official Washington is searching for new ways of ensuring its strategic interests. In general, superpowers are now developing different scenarios with the aim of increasing effectiveness of their strategies in Eurasia. The major topic of debates is whether the U.S will prefer peaceful or military methods. Interestingly, American political analysts do not rule out the option of a great war, but warn of its devastating implications.
The Ukrainian crisis: new ”headache” of global geopolitics
Kiev has brought the global politics to a dead end. Although calm and confident at first sight, superpowers sometimes make moves that show their worries about the situation. Analysts continue making forecasts, providing a revealing insight into details of the superpowers` policies that have been concealed for years. This helps build a better picture of what strategic interests the states claiming to be global leaders pursue.
In this context, views of George Friedman, the founder and chairman of Stratfor, are more concrete, objective and correct. In two articles on the Ukrainian events, he looks at primary interests pursued by the USA, the European Union and Russia in global politics and also analyzes how each of them is trying to ensure its goals (see: George Friedman. Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine / “Stratfor”, April 1, 2014 and George Friedman. U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair / “Stratfor”, April 8, 2014).
It appears that the Ukraine crisis has forced Washington to rethink its geopolitical strategy. According to Friedman, the world had entered a new era in which what had been previously commonplace would now be rare or nonexistent. War strategies that were used in the World War II are now considered ineffective. Friedman says that on the one hand, the Americans face the possibility of a long war, and on the other, the USA does not want to become involved (see: George Friedman. U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair / “Stratfor”, April 8, 2014).
There are many reasons. The major one is that the United States is not ready to fight a long war now, and that other big powers are wary of America. Russia, for example, would want to turn from a regional into a global superpower. It is evidenced by Moscow`s strategy in relation to Ukraine. However, the Kremlin realizes impossibility of reaching this goal through war. But this weakness is compensated by Washington`s unwillingness to conduct ”systemic war”. At the end of the day, both the Americans and the Russians are forced to sit at the negotiating table (see: George Friedman. Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine / “Stratfor”, April 1, 2014).
In this context, Friedman singles out two important factors. First, the USA`s defence policy under new model. Second, negotiations, overt and covert, between Washington and Moscow to solve the Ukrainian crisis. But more important, according to Friedman, the Russians have shown us the way the world still works. When something must get done, the number to call is still in the United States (see: previous source).
Can war ensure geopolitical leadership?
This thesis seems very interesting given an assumption that the USA would not fight against Russia. Under this model, the issue of the position and role of Europe remains unclear. To be more precise, does not Washington want the European Union to be the leading geopolitical force? Certainly not. The USA appears to be unwilling to sacrifice its long-term strategic interests to Europe`s desires.
Friedman writes: ”U.S. national strategy must be founded on the control of the sea. The oceans protect the United States from everything but terrorism and nuclear missiles. The greatest challenge to U.S. control of the sea is hostile fleets. The best way to defeat hostile fleets is to prevent them from being built. The best way to do that is to maintain the balance of power in Eurasia. The ideal path for this is to ensure continued tensions within Eurasia so that resources are spent defending against land threats rather than building fleets. Given the inherent tensions in Eurasia, the United States needs to do nothing in most cases. In some cases it must send military or economic aid to one side or both. In other cases, it advises.” (see: George Friedman. U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair / “Stratfor”, April 8, 2014).
This theoretical principle has had its manifestations in practice. It is particularly manifested in Washington`s policy in relation to Russia and China. For example, the USA is interested in strengthening defence capabilities of its allies on the periphery of Russia. Since Portugal or Italy adds little weight to the equation, the Americans pay more attention to Romania and Poland. At some historical points the USA has blocked German hegemony. Berlin clearly felt this in the Ukraine crisis too when the USA did not back Germany`s radical moves, forcing it to pull back (see: previous source).
In this sense, the USA-Russia talks to relieve the crisis in Ukraine appear to make sense. Washington`s major interest here is to avoid being involved in a military conflict with Russia. On the contrary, Washington should act at distance (Friedman), and try to destabilize Russia economically and increase military potential of American allies bordering Russia.
The main goal of the United States is to avoid the emergence of a regional hegemon fully secure against land threats and with the economic power to challenge America. So Washington must choose the right strategy to block the Russian hegemony claims. Countries such as South Korea and Japan, which have a more immediate interest in China than the United States does, are supported by the United States to contain China. What countries will play this role for the USA in its Russian strategy is still a question.
Anyway, Ukraine has already walked into this trap. It appears that Ukraine`s euphoria of independence was used to have involved the country in a long conflict. Official Kiev has already admitted impossibility of ensuring its territorial integrity and stability in a short period time. Ukrainian officials believe in a step-by-step solution of the problem through gradually weakening Russia. In reality, it is in America`s strategic interest.
World politics has entered a new phase. In their search for new models of leadership, superpowers do not desist from taking the steps that can cause many threats to independent countries.
It appears that nobody is concerned that this will put humanity face-to-face with many new hardships. It is well worth considering given the fact that analysts propose choosing ”the most effective war” from what they call ”systemic”, “asymmetric” and ”anti-terror” wars. At the end of the day, it`s about a human life, and preserving civilization.