The Meaning Of Multipolarity – Managing The “Contested” Countries
The research’s primary aim has been to explain the meaning of multipolarity and to categorize some of Eurasia’s leading countries into unipolar, multipolar, or contested brackets. The latter category is closely related to the Old Cold War’s idea of “non-alignment”, though in the New Cold War, it takes on a heightened meaning as a result of the US’ policy in forcing non-committed states to choose one or the other side in the present global struggle. Remembering that there are three broad indicators of multipolarity – economic, institutional, and geopolitical – that can be understood only after strategically auditing each country via the established methodology, instances arise where some states do not fully fit the criteria for being either unipolar or multipolar, largely owing to an imbalance in one of the three aforementioned categories. For example, while India practices economic and institutional multipolarity, it still pursues a unipolar geopolitical policy, whereas Indonesia is mostly non-aligned (or “contested” in New Cold War terminology”) when it comes to all three.
Because of the geostrategic importance and demographic/economic size of Iran, India, and Indonesia, and the fact that the research has concluded that all three of them are contested, it’s worthwhile to devote an entirely separate section of the research to them in endeavoring to understand how they relate to one another in a global framework. Furthermore, it’s necessary to look at each of them in particular once more and remind the reader about how the US intends to use them against the multipolar world. Lastly, it’s of the highest order of importance that general recommendations are issued for how Russia and China should engage each of these contested states in order to bring them closer to the multipolar world, avoid inadvertently pushing them closer into the US’ arms, and minimizing the collateral strategic damage if this in fact regrettably occurs.
The Rimland Alliance
Barack Obama’s greatest geopolitical contribution to American grand strategy is that he laid the foundation for a more tightly integrated “Rimland Alliance” between the Western, Eastern, and Southern portions of Eurasia. The TTIP is founded on the idea of institutionally tying together the US and EU economies, while the TPP aims to do something similar in the Asia-Pacific region (as well as in the western portion of Latin America, although that’s altogether a different topic of study). Simultaneous with these economic integrational processes, the US is also deepening its military-strategic involvement in both of those theaters, ostensibly “containing Russia” in Western Eurasia while doing the same thing against China in Eastern Eurasia. The economic-military overlap between TTIP/NATO and TPP/CCC (“China Containment Coalition”) is so strong that it exposes the true purpose behind each of these pairs, which in objective hindsight is clearly to deepen the US’ strategic entrenchment in each respective corner of Eurasia.
Be that as it is, the US has a serious geostrategic gap in Southern Eurasia, though this is precisely where each of the contested countries come into play. The US ideally wants to connect the new “containment line” of “New Europe”/”The Intermarum” with the CCC, which is why it’s using Turkey as the geo-military hinge in leveraging NATO and GCC strategic/covert interoperability. Even so, if these two blocs fuse together in the future (whether de-jure or de-facto), there’s still an entire ocean’s worth of distance between them and Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, the main core countries of the CCC. Iran would never be formally integrated into this framework in any capacity even if it were to be fully overrun with pro-Western “moderates”, though its particular envisioned purpose in this framework will be explained shortly. Instead, it’s much easier to see how India and Indonesia fit into this equation as being the literal South/Southeastern Eurasian connecting pieces in linking together the Western (NATO/GCC) and Eastern (CCC) unipolar military blocs.
If both India and Indonesia were to engage in some way or another with the US in its anti-China activities, then the Rimland Alliance would be complete and the “containment” noose would be tightened against Moscow and Beijing. Moreover, Iran’s role would become even more important since it would function as New Delhi’s Central Asian bridgehead in “containing” China in the Eurasian Heartland, which of course would lead to relative strategic losses for Russia as well. Once more, the reader needs to be reminded that what matters here are intent and capabilities – if India and Iran have friendly intentions of economically cooperating with the Central Asian states in a complementary win-win fashion alongside Russia and China, then there’s no problem whatsoever if they flex their capabilities in doing so. However, if the intent is hostile in any way, or even if Iran “neutrally” assists a hostile-intentioned India in doing so, then it would be complicit to whatever the US does in the region via its Indian proxy, even if it only directly receives “mutually advantageous” economic benefits from New Delhi in exchange.
To sum it up, the US wants to change the multipolar intentions of the Iranian, Indian, and Indonesian leaderships in order to strategically seize control of their capabilities and use them as “Lead From Behind” proxies in furthering the anti-multipolar “containment” coalition against Russia and China. Washington would ‘justify’ this by having its affiliated information outlets spin the narrative that each of them are doing so for their own subjectively defined reasons, which would objectively only be the predetermined storyline that the US has gotten its elite and possibly even a large share of its population to believe. Again, the author feels compelled to repeat himself so as to avoid being misunderstood by some of the readers – with multipolar intentions, Iran, India, and Indonesia could use their respective capabilities for the collective ultimate good of the emerging world order, while if one, some, or all of them ‘defects’ to the unipolar bloc and acquires negative intentions vis-à-vis Russia or China, then their capabilities would be exploited to subvert Moscow and Beijing’s multipolar system.
, India, and Indonesia are all unique in their strategic situations and degree of “contested”-ness, so the same policies that work for one of them might be irrelevant for the others. Nevertheless, it can be generally suggested that Russia and China utilize their military-technological (Moscow) and economic (Beijing) prowess in wedding their respective partners closer to the multipolar world order, but they must be careful not to give them enormous and unrestrained capabilities that could one day be turned against them if their “contested” intentions change towards hostile unipolar ones.
The factors influencing Iran’s potential pivot towards the unipolar world are mostly related to domestic political forces outside the immediate scope of Russia and China’s influence, so these multipolar leaders can only do so much in mitigating the chances that a catastrophic geopolitical reversal could one day take place there. Instead, what each of them should do is focus on the respective benefits that they can provide to the Iranian people and “deep state”. For example, Moscow and Beijing both have relatively positive relations with Riyadh, so they could pool their diplomatic resources together in trying to counter US influence over the Kingdom and in mediating the Iranian-Saudi Cold War that Washington engineered. Additionally, Russia can continue its military-technical cooperation with Iran via the shared anti-terrorist struggle in Syria and on a more conventional bilateral basis via high-tech weapons sales. China, for its part, could prioritize Iran for its One Belt One Road projects, as the Islamic Republic is perfectly positioned to profit from both the mainland (prospective Iran-China Railroad) and maritime (merchant marine) components of this vision.
This is the most delicate of the three countries being discussed, since China must exercise enormous restraint in not loudly and conventionally responding to India’s obnoxious provocations against it. Doing so will only feed into the joint US-Indian information trap that’s being set for ‘justifying’ the “Logistic Service Agreement” on account of “Chinese aggression”. It might turn out that Beijing is absolutely pressed to respond in some way that inadvertently promotes the informational agenda against it, but until that moment arrives, it must be as patient as possible. The only thing that would change China’s calculus in this regard is if it knew without question that India planned to aggressively “counter” China in the shared border region through overtly hostile means in the immediate future, in which case Beijing would literally have nothing to lose by appearing to be the “bad guy” and proactively responding before the joint Indian-US plot tangibly materializes (just as it did within “island building” in the South China Sea). Discounting that eventuality, then China is expected to behave as it characteristically has for centuries, which is to maintain a dignified poise of strategic ambiguity in the face of a passively aggressive potential foe, holding out one hand for cooperation while secretly making moves to protect itself behind the scenes with the other. Put differently, observers can expect a two-track policy from China, one in which Beijing publicly pretends like “nothing is (very) wrong” while making certain domestic and international moves that contradict its stated stance.
Under unpredictable conditions such as these where it’s difficult to accurately forecast the state of future Chinese-Indian relations, Russia’s role becomes one of paramount importance as the only Great Power capable of positively influencing New Delhi. With their relationship going back decades into the early days of the Old Cold War, Moscow and New Delhi have had a lot of positive interactions between them despite the near total lack of such during the post-Cold War period until BRICS. Nowadays, the principle foundations of their partnership are military-technical agreements, nuclear and other energy cooperation, and prospective North-South Corridor economic trade routes. Being geographically removed from the other by almost half of Eurasia, neither country could theoretically be accused of wanting to directly interfere in their relations with the other, which is one of the reasons why they remained trusted partners throughout this long period of time. Having said that, Russia should seek to revitalize its relationship with India, though being careful not to boost the capabilities of a hostile anti-Chinese government that could one day upset Moscow’s regional status quo in Central Asia out of the perceived purpose of “containing” Beijing in that theater.
While some might question the ethics of selling even more weapons to an Indian government that has so pivotally turned against China in the past month, Moscow’s weapons trade and war games with New Delhi in these circumstances would really only be a larger and more expanded version of the balancing act that it already carries out between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It’s not to compare either of these giants to these much smaller states, but the point is to draw parallels between Russia’s balancing role in both of these instances. Selling weapons to Armenia and Azerbaijan, hated rivals of the other, has served the purpose of keeping the peace between them by preventing other actors from disrupting the strategic equilibrium between the two with their own arms shipments. This same function could potentially be achieved vis-à-vis China and India if Russia were inclined to do so and had the friendly approval of Beijing. If this strategy were to go ahead, then although the SCO and BRICS would be fractured, Russia’s arms-selling role in maintaining the existing balance between these two Asian Great Powers would ensure that India doesn’t feel overly confident enough with newly imported US-Israeli weaponry to launch a sneak attack on Chinese positions in Aksai Chin or perhaps even beyond in uncontested and internationally recognized Chinese territory.
Last but not least, Russia and China should try to utilize their respective strategic advantages in deterring an Indonesian pivot to the unipolar world. Per its globally recognized leadership in the field, Russia can expand its military-technical cooperation with Indonesia while also working to find a way to bring it on board with the Far East’s modernization, either as an investment partner or a market destination. Even more so than India, Indonesia is so far geographically removed from Russia that it would be ridiculous for anyone to seriously claim that either of these countries has negative intentions against the other, which means that Moscow could use its growing relations with Jakarta to present itself as a neutral and trusted mediator in the region. China, for its part, could just continue its already prosperous trading relations with Indonesia, though finding ways to invigorate the relationship where appropriate. Like it was written in the relevant earlier section, Indonesia’s combined trade with the TPP countries is more than that which it has with China, which could eventually create an easily exploitable problem where the US finds it convenient and convincing to argue that Indonesia should join that bloc at the expense of its relatively lesser trade with China. In order to counteract that, China absolutely needs to position itself as a more important player in the Indonesian economy, and even if it can’t boost its share in absolute terms, then it must find strategic avenues to improve the value of its relationship.
The book-length series about “The Meaning Of Multipolarity” sough to educate the reader about this literally world-changing idea, dispelling the stereotypes that pervade any talk of this concept while also drawing attention to the finer points that are regularly skimmed over when addressing it. For example, while multipolarity is popularly conceived of as being in opposition to the US, that’s only partially true, as it resists the US’ unipolar order but not necessarily all aspects of the US itself. It’s necessary to remember that multipolarity is not “Orthodox Anti-Americanism” and does not mean that multipolar-espousing states cannot have pragmatic win-win cooperation with some unipolar ones in spheres of shared benefit. Additionally, while the label “multipolar” has lately been liberally thrown around in describing any sort of perceived beneficial behavior or policy vis-à-vis Russia and China, it’s constructive for individuals to explain exactly how and the full extent to which a multipolar-labelled action is constructive in advancing this global vision. Remembering the methodology that was first revealed in this work, it’s possible to sub-categorize this concept as applying to one of eight particular indicators in providing a more detailed understanding of how a given multipolar action relates to the bigger picture.
By carrying out a comprehensive review of key countries in applying the eight multipolar indicators of determining whether a state is unipolar, multipolar, or contested, it’s plain to see that the southern edges of Eurasia are noticeably in geopolitical play between the two world forces. Iran, India, and Indonesia are on-the-fence states to varying degrees and are therefore the subject of intense global focus in the present day. While India appears to have chosen its lot with the US and its unipolar allies, Russia can still maintain pragmatic working relations with its South Asian “partner” if it delicately takes care to balance its military-technical, nuclear, and economic cooperation in such a manner as to not tilt the strategic balance against its much more important Chinese ally. Concerning the other two contested states, the situation is much more positive and there’s no imminent threat of either of them ‘defecting’ in the near future like India just did, though of course the beast of Hybrid War might unexpectedly ravage one or the other and change that calculation. Discounting that as being unlikely for the moment, the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership can leverage the respective strengths of each of its members in creatively engaging Iran and Indonesia in a coordinated manner that ties each of these states more closely with the emerging multipolar world, making Moscow and Beijing indispensable and irreplaceable partners.
To conclude the extensive research that was just undertaken, the meaning of multipolarity is a lot more varied that one might initially think, and while a full study of the concept raises questions about whether hitherto assumed-to-be multipolar states are really as attuned to this vision as one may have initially thought they would be, it also reveals the reverse in which presumably unipolar states surprisingly have some multipolar tendencies. It’s the author’s hope that this work succeeds in stimulating much-needed discussion about the meaning of this globally transformative concept and in drawing attention to the differing degrees of “contested”-ness between Iran, India, and Indonesia. The full viability of the US’ Rimland Alliance is dependent on bringing India and Indonesia on board with this project and in having Iran play a facilitating role in opening up Central Asia to potentially hostile “containment” influence from New Delhi, but none of these scenarios except for what appears to be Modi’s set-in-stone unipolar pivot is inevitable (and even that could be reversed with time). Therefore, with at least Iran and Indonesia still being “in play” and Russia having a realistic chance to use its military-technical cooperation with India in maintaining the peace between New Delhi and Beijing, the meaning of multipolarity is more important than ever and is directly applicable to understanding the New Cold War’s changing geopolitical dynamics.