Waves in the pond
One of the images that sharply depict the repercussions of any action in today’s geopolitical scenario. is that of the ripples produced in a pond when we throw a stone; it is a matter of more or less time before those ripples propagate and end up reaching all the banks with more or less speed and intensity. If instead of a single stone we throw several at random intervals, we see how some waves reach others, sometimes adding movements and, at other times, counteracting them.
Let us consider five ‘stones’ that have been thrown into the pond recently. The first one is the agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. with the mediation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The second is the increasing encirclement of the export of state-of-the-art technologies to China. by some countries close to the United States (Holland, Japan, Germany…).
Third, South Korea’s statement of intent. with the apparent acquiescence of the United States to acquire nuclear weapons of its own manufacture. The fourth is the U.S. decision to provide Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines to Australia within the encirclement of the PRC by the AUKUS alliance, an acronym for Australia, United Kingdom and United States. And the fifth and last, the decision to provide MIG 29 fighter jets with NATO avionics to Ukraine. by Poland and Slovakia, an announcement which has coincided in time with President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow yesterday.
Each and every one of those ‘stones’ is of sufficient relevance to alter alliances, mark out positions of strength, escalate tensions. in different parts of the world and, in short, increase the risk of a large-scale confrontation that could start anywhere (the Arctic, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea or the Black Sea).
Thinking strategically requires having a clear idea from a geopolitical point of view of the desired end state, and of the times, ways and means necessary to achieve it. In particular, it means being able to control the levels of competition between great powers by keeping them below the threshold of aggressive-injuriousness.The sum of different actions and reactions will not constitute the casus belli that some seem to desire, thus triggering the Thucydides trap, an expression of the American political scientist Graham T. Allison that describes the actions – warlike- to maintain the status quo that a dominant but declining power undertakes against an emerging power that seeks to achieve hegemony in pursuit of its own interests.
It is the statesmen’s finesse and vision that diminishes confrontation, stabilizes competition, and seeks common ground for cooperation, which there is. If statesmen are lacking, the mediocre ones usually lead their nations to war in the name of what they do not know and provoking consequences that they are incapable of dimensioning.