Realism is back ! | By Dr Shoaib Baloch


Realism is back !

IT is the failure of diplomacy. It is the failure of extended deterrence. It is the failure of collective security. It is the failure of UN.

It is the failure of international law. It is the failure of liberal hegemony. It is the failure of liberal internationalism and institutionalism. Ukraine is robbed of its sovereignty, and the world sits and watches! In this anarchic world, every state must protect itself.

No state comes in rescue when the cost of alignment is huge or interests are non-identical. What states pursue or endorse or involve in are largely the dictates of national interests.The false promises of liberalism remain unfulfilled.

It has failed to cultivate durable peace. It has failed to tame great powers from power struggle. It has failed to make states observe the international law in true spirit. It has failed to provide collective security to a ‘threatened’ state.

It has dug its own grave to be buried in when it has made false promises to the world after its heroic triumph at the end of the Cold War by ignoring ubiquitous power politics. The myth of liberal triumphalism is debunked as states have started to pursue realistic foreign policy.

The 9/11 incident has finally burst the bubble of global security. National security has superseded global security.

The security of the world’s most powerful country was challenged. It has delineated that the importance of national security is far greater than global security. Threats always hover over states—no matter from where do they come or by whom will it be.

Nothing has diluted the importance of national interests, power politics and national security. Globalization has tried to erase national identity and nationalism in order to make the world a global village.

But it was chained and showed its place. Brexit, for example, has dealt a blow to the idea of regionalism. Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic has showed the primacy of stateism as realism always contends that state is the primary actor in international system.

Almost all states have shut their boundaries to restrict movement of people and goods. It signifies that states are still relevant and primary actor in world politics. No agency dares challenge the primacy of states; states are numerous small gods in international politics.

Liberalism has failed to estimate its limits. It has claimed pyrrhic victory. It has claimed to offer solutions to global problems. But it has failed to do so. It succumbs to its illusions.

The problems of power politics, security and national interests will never be ironed out through utopic ideals. Realism always cautions the world that power struggle in an anarchic international environment is the main reason of war.

Today, Ukraine is left at the mercy of liberalism.For realists, if Ukraine has developed a formidable defence and relied solely on its own strength, it would have not been invaded by its powerful neighbour.

Neither the NATO, nor has the US (or even the UN) averted the challenge to its sovereignty from Russia. To be brief, the Ukraine crisis is nothing, but all the failures enumerated in the prelude.

To understand Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the theory of realism must be allowed to diagnose the real problem.

It is the power politics! Let me say again, it is the power politics! The US has withdrawn from Afghanistan; the NATO has become jobless. The threat to existing hegemonic power appears to be emanating from the Indo-Pacific region.

China is branded as the ‘revisionist’ power and the major ‘strategic competitor’ of the US. The US woos allies to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. At the transatlantic region, the NATO appears to be irrelevant.

The European countries have cultivated deep economic relations with China and Russia. China is the major trade partner of the European countries while Russia generously quenches their energy thirst. The commerce intercourse of the European states with China and Russia has increased the fear of the US.

Both China and Russia are determined to dislodge the US from Europe and deprive it of its vast sphere of influence in the region.

America has attempted to rally around democracies—the US and European democracies—against the axis of autocrats—China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The European countries have shown minimum interests to get sucked into the evolving US-China competition as it will grossly hurt their economies. On the other hand, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany has also increased cooperation between both countries.

It has alarmed America because greater Russia-Germany cooperation will reduce its influence in Europe. Russia tries to evict the USA from Europe through its energy supply and cooperation. This fear has obliged to make the NATO again relevant in the post-Afghanistan security order. The NATO is to be given its next assignment; the creation of an environment of insecurity deems necessary.

Making Ukraine a NATO member is a calculated strategy to incite Russia to invade it. As a consequence, Europe faces insecurity from Russia and the NATO will not become obsolete. Is the Ukraine crisis induced to make the NATO relevant?

—The writer is a strategic affairs and foreign policy analyst.


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