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Asia’s pivot to Asia Print E-mail

In a geostrategic mikado, the region’s states are actively realigning their external relationships

By Daniel Twining

February 9, 2015

Much has been made of the intensifying strategic competition between the United States and China, with Beijing working to edge America out of its Asian neighborhood even as Washington doubles down on its regional partnerships and presence. Less attention has been paid to regional dynamics underneath the umbrella of a US-China relationship that mixes nascent rivalry with cautious engagement. In fact, Asia is undergoing a wider set of geopolitical realignments that could reset conventional expectations about the region’s strategic future.

Russia is tilting towards China and away from the West, as demonstrated by several recent energy-supply deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing US and European sanctions have led President Putin to pivot eastwards in hopes of building an anti-Western alliance with Beijing. Chinese and Russian armed forces are stepping up joint exercises. Both countries’ leaders are ideologically united in ruthless defense of one-party rule at home and against Western leadership in international institutions.

A world out of joint Print E-mail

February 9, 2015

The world begins the year 2015 in a terrible state. The euro crisis is causing hardship, above all for poorer Europeans. Many fear the conflict in Eastern Ukraine could escalate into World War III. Religious fanatics live and kill even in the heart of Europe. It is not enough for them to be able to practice their faith in a liberal, democratic society – they want to force their inhuman, totalitarian ideology on that society. And the fact that populist parties across Europe and in Germany are using the crimes of a small number of extremists to boost their own cause is both shameful and alarming.

Yet we must also look beyond Europe: Ruthless extremists are wreaking havoc all over the globe. In a great arc east and south of the Mediterranean, from Syria to Libya and on to Nigeria, jihadists are seeking to extinguish the light of freedom. Taliban terrorists are poised to expand into other central Asian countries following the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. The news from nuclear-obsessed North Korea are not good. Are Washington and Teheran truly seeking a compromise in the talks over Iran’s nuclear program? Is there any hope at all for a peaceful resolution of the 60-year conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors? And what new offensive weapons are being developed in cyberspace?

War and other violence have forced more than 50 million people from their homes; 17 million of them have had to leave their home countries. That means millions of ruined lives – to say nothing of the millions of lives cut short.

The world has become a less secure, more dangerous place. Solutions are needed, and quickly. Speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab called 2015 a “year of destiny for mankind.” Two weeks later, Munich Security Conference Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger called together heads of state, chiefs of government, ministers and the finest minds from the political think tanks to seek ways to counter the global upheaval.

Confronted with a world that is out of joint, in which war and violence threaten us all, this issue of The Asia Pacific Times has decided to concentrate on the international conflicts convulsing the globe. For this reason, the Business and Life sections have been omitted. They will be back in our next issue.

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