CEREMONIAL PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS BY AMBASSADORS
It is widely known that when an ambassador is appointed, he or she carries a letter to the head of state of the receiving country introducing the carrier as the appointed ambassador to the recipient country. It is generally done somberly and ceremonially. During my stay as ambassador to Germany, I was concurrently accredited as a non-resident ambassador to Austria, Slovenia, and other countries in Europe. I was also appointed as ambassador to Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand. The reason for giving my short biographical sketch is to draw the attention of the world to the problems we face and will continue to face for the foreseeable future.
CHANGES IN THE WORLD FROM THE DAYS THE BRITISH RULED THE WAVES.
The world today is not the world of India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s non-aligned policy along with Nkrumah’s Ghana, Indonesia’s Sukarno, and UAE’s Gamal Abdul Nasser. Long gone are the days when Britain ruled the waves and America’s sole suzerainty for long years when the so-called rule-based world was not challenged by a rising China and Russia with their “limitless” friendship challenging the West that its authoritarian rule is preferable to the developing countries through, for example, China’s Bridge and Road Initiative, badly needed by the developing countries for infra-structural development for which these countries do not have the money.
MIKE PENCE’S WARNING ON CHINA DEBT TRAP
One should not forget the public warning given by Donald Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence of China’s Debt Trap because the recipient countries cannot disclose the terms of the loan taken from China. So the world is faced with a tussle between democracy and authoritarianism. Martin Wolf Chief Economic Commentator of London-based Financial Times feels that Liberal democracy is in recession, and authoritarianism is on the rise. The ties that ought to bind open markets to free and fair elections are threatened, even in democracy’s heartlands, the United States and England. Around the world, powerful voices argue that capitalism is better without democracy; others argue that democracy is better without capitalism.
MARTIN WOLF ARGUES FOR DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM.
Yet Martin Wolf argues that for all its flaws democratic capitalism remains far and away the best system for human flourishing. But something has gone seriously awry: the growth of prosperity has slowed, and the division of its fruits between the hyper-successful few and the rest has become more unequal. The plutocrats have retreated to their bastions, where they pour scorn on the government’s ability to invest in the public goods needed to foster opportunity and sustainability. But the incoming flood of autocracy will rise to overwhelm them, too, in the end. Citizenship is not just a slogan or a romantic idea; it’s the only idea that can save us, Wolf argues. Nothing has ever harmonized political and economic freedom better than a shared faith in the common good. Regardless of Martin Wolf’s lamentations developing countries are more attracted to China’s BRI projects despite debt trap threats.
INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AND GOLDILOCKS PRINCIPLE.
Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar believes in the Goldilocks principle that he described in a speech he referred to the West using the Goldilocks principle on India. In his speech at the Atlantic Council, he said: “It is what I would call a sort of a goldilocks era of our relationship, which is: The West didn’t want India to get too weak, it didn’t want India to get too strong. So, it stirred the Indian porridge or tried to stir the Indian porridge just right. And sometimes, there were margins of error on either side. ….. pretty much across the development spectrum, the West was very supportive. But when it came to industrialization, particularly in heavy industries or in defense and security, the West was very conservative.”
For elaboration on the Goldilocks principle one may refer to Wikipedia which explains that the Goldilocks principle is a concept that refers to the idea of finding the “just right” amount of something. The principal is named after a children’s story “Three Bears” in which a young girl named Goldilocks tastes three different bowls of porridge and finds the porridge neither too hot nor too cold but has the right temperature. The concept of the right amount is easily understood and applied to a range of disciplines including development psychology, biology, astronomy, economics, and engineering. In economics, a Goldilocks economy sustains moderate economic growth and low inflation which allows a market-friendly monetary policy.
CAN THE WORLD LOOK FORWARD TO PEACE IN 2024?
The trilateral security partnership comprising the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia – known simply as AUKUS – is among the most interesting alliances in recent memory, and it has the potential to be among the most consequential in the world in 2024. Uniting three countries that fought together in both world wars and a variety of lesser conflicts, AUKUS can be thought of as an offspring of the Five Eyes, a post-World War II intelligence-sharing initiative formed by the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand that is very much active even today. Although the Five Eyes is primarily a military alliance, its members generate nearly 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and they have similar cultural, political, and commercial understandings. AUKUS has a strategic purpose, of course. Originally billed as a mechanism to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, it will eventually involve enhanced intelligence sharing, indigenous military-industrial capabilities, tighter security operations, and the joint development of new weapons. But in no uncertain terms, its objective is to contain China’s navy and prevent it from dominating any part of the Pacific. But it is not only the Pacific with which it is concerned. The Atlantic is not at risk right now, but just as it was a central figure in both world wars, so too could it be in the future.
AUKUS members understand that any existential threat they face will come from the sea. Its members are all islands – even the United States, which must defend the seas around it. Friedman adds that the alliance is now primarily a naval one, but its economic might cannot be ignored, especially because it is arrayed specifically against China. In some ways, AUKUS is the natural outcome of global culture and national interests. The acquisition of nuclear submarines and aircraft represents that truth. The economic reality of AUKUS will begin to be felt more heavily as China’s economy remains unstable and as it becomes a more sophisticated alliance, incorporating all dimensions of power into its mission. Military is the most obvious aspect of national power, but there are many facets, and this coming year will be devoted to aligning that power and using it on a global level, as New Zealand and Canada align their realities.
IS CHINA’S GROWTH A CHALLENGE TO THE US PIVOT IN ASIA?
Analysts and those working in the White House have been faced with a challenge to China’s growth and flexing of its muscle in disputed areas in Asia. Some analysts have tried to assess President Joe Biden’s administration’s limited gains as reflecting an underlying reality that many in Washington would rather not face: U.S. military supremacy in Asia cannot be sustained over the long term. Rather than maintain an ill-fated pursuit of primacy, the United States should adopt a strategy that prioritizes balancing, not exceeding, Chinese power. Washington needs to focus more narrowly on safeguarding access to strategic locations—for example, the industrial centers of Japan and India—and key waterways. Washington must also try to shift some of its security burdens by helping allies and partners strengthen their self-defense capabilities. Besides Washington needs to learn to better navigate the region’s many multilateral institutions to advance U.S. interests and influence instead of organizing engagement solely around U.S.-centered partnerships. It may be relevant to address Xi-Jinping’s address to the CCP in January 2024 on the elimination of corruption at different levels of administration. that emphasized that in the new journey of anti-corruption, the CCP must continue to make efforts and advance in depth in eradicating the soil and conditions that cause corruption problems.
The general requirement is to persist in promoting the policy of not being afraid of corruption, not being able to be corrupt, and not wanting to be corrupt, deepening the treatment of both symptoms and root causes, systematic treatment, constantly expanding the depth and breadth of the anti-corruption struggle, prescribing the right medicine, precise treatment, and taking multiple measures simultaneously to eliminate recurring old problems. Gradually reduce it to make it difficult for new problems to spread, and promote the normalization and long-term prevention and treatment of corruption problems. Xi Jinping pointed out that it is necessary to strengthen the party’s centralized and unified leadership in the fight against corruption. Party committees at all levels must effectively strengthen leadership over the entire process of the anti-corruption struggle, resolutely support the investigation and handling of corruption cases, and work hard to rectify problems.
According to analysts the end of U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term, the United States faced a clear choice regarding its future role in Asia. As China grew more powerful—and assertive in its territorial claims—Washington could double down on costly efforts to try to maintain U.S. military primacy in the region. Or it could acknowledge that China will inevitably play a growing military role there and use its finite resources to balance Chinese power, seeking to prevent Chinese regional hegemony without sustaining its own ambition. A primary challenge the United States faces in the Indo-Pacific is China’s large arsenal of missiles. U.S. forces concentrated at large bases in Guam, Japan, and South Korea are particularly vulnerable to Chinese strikes, and the Pentagon hopes to distribute personnel and assets more widely to numerous small bases and outposts across the region to improve their chances of survival. U.S. efforts to establish this distributed posture have yielded some achievements. The Biden team secured expanded permissions for U.S. forces to use additional bases in Australia and the Philippines, as well as Papua New Guinea, pending the approval of the latter country’s parliament. However, these expanded permissions do not provide much in the way of additional crisis or wartime access.
The Philippines and Papua New Guinea have both signaled that they will not permit the United States to use bases on their territories to stockpile weapons or conduct offensive military operations in a war against China, especially over Taiwan. This additional access does not address Washington’s most critical needs or expand U.S. access to the most strategically important countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. In short, history teaches us that any country, in this case, China, when it becomes powerful, both economically and militarily, is expected to flex its muscle firstly in its periphery and then in the world at large. It would be advisable for the US to make room for China in an increasingly multi-polar world. Yet one must not forget Sino-Indian border clashes and India’s eternal nemesis-Pakistan- which will not rest till India is destroyed or at least brought down to its knees. This is better left to the future as no country on earth would seek its destruction.
As rightly pointed out by former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher to be truly durable, a solution for the future of Gaza must be framed within a larger endgame for all Palestinians under Israeli control. It must finally address the root cause of unending violence: the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. Years of failed negotiations have also made clear what such a plan will require to succeed: unlike so many of its predecessors, it must be credible and time-bound, and the endgame itself must be well-defined at the outset. Establishing such a comprehensive process will require extraordinary effort. But the alternative is far worse.
The current war has already led to the killing of huge numbers of civilians, the destruction of Gaza, the undermining of Israel’s security and international support, the creation of another 1.5 million Palestinian refugees, and the looming threat of a further mass transfer of Palestinians out of their ancestral lands. Any attempt to resolve the day-after problem by reverting to the old paradigms will simply invite these catastrophes to be repeated. Tracing the history of the Palestinian occupation by the Israelis from the Oslo Accords he mentioned the current right-wing Israeli government’s repeated and publicly declared statements that it has no intention of ending the occupation or helping establish a Palestinian state. Drawing from his experience as an Arab leader Marwan Muasher added that large parts of Gaza have been rendered practically uninhabitable, and several Israeli cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, have directly or indirectly promoted the idea of moving Palestinians to other countries. Several Israeli and international commentators have also portrayed the Egyptian and Jordanian decisions to close their borders to Palestinians as an inhumane act, perhaps to pressure both states into letting Palestinians flee. But the Israeli government would then bar them from coming back.
If Palestinians lose hope for a Palestinian state, the conflict could become more violent. However, any attempt at mass transfer will not be easy to implement. Jordan and Egypt have already drawn international attention to this scenario, to the point where the United States and other countries have publicly come out in strong opposition. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research poll, 63 percent of Palestinians today say they would support armed resistance to end the occupation. Such resistance had already started in the West Bank in the months before October 7, with young, leaderless youth taking up arms and shooting at Israelis. Moreover, if it chooses to continue the occupation, Israel’s challenge won’t just be internal. The country is also confronting an emerging younger generation in the United States and many other Western countries that have shown it is far more supportive of Palestinians and the issue of equal rights than its predecessors. As this generation rises to positions of power, the world will become increasingly critical of the Israeli occupation, and the focus will shift from defining an illusory peace settlement to tackling the problem of deep injustice in indefinitely occupied lands. It is also likely to make Israel increasingly isolated on the world stage.
Given the fact that the US Presidential elections are around the corner and the influence of the Jewish lobby in US politics is considerable no change in American policy on this issue is expected. It would be wise for the world to listen to the pleadings by South Africa before the ICC and hold Israel guilty of genocide. Benjamin Netanyahu should not be allowed to go Scott-free after committing the worst genocide that the Jews themselves had suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany. In the meantime, the world will have to tackle the change that the Ukraine invasion may cause a change in the map of Europe.