Russia, Iran, and China are considered to be the forces pushing for a multipolar global system where power is not just shared but enjoyed by most countries and not just the USA. For its part, the US has been holding its position as the sole superpower of the world since the 1990s.
However, this has been challenged by the very power [communism] that ostensibly got defeated by the US in the 1990s. But now, this fight is also joined by another regional actor; Iran.
Iran since the 1979 revolution has challenged US hegemony in the Middle East and is quite successful in doing so. The Iranian missile strike on the US military base in Iraq was a huge blow to the perceived ‘hegemony’ of the Americans.
Russia and China both have supported Iran in the Middle East to tie down the US, so they could pursue their policies of economic integration easily in the regions or countries earlier aligned with Washington.
Russia, for that matter, supported Iran in securing key Iranian ally in Syria when Qassem Soleimani met Putin in Moscow and a mutual understanding was formed between the states. The results were that Russia joined Iran in saving the presidency of Bashar al-Assad. Saving Bashar was equal to maintaining a strong Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Similarly, China has helped Iran at the UN, and at other international forums to help neutralise the US pressure. When the arms embargo was lifted and the US tried to impose it again on Iran, China and Russia opposed the decision at the UNSC.
Moreover, during this time as the US was engaged militarily on multiple fronts, the Chinese were working on military strength and expanding economic influence – not just in Asia, but Europe as well. According to the WSJ, China is working to narrow the hard power gap with the US. China with the latest technologies like hypersonic missiles, aircraft carriers, etc poses a great danger, followed by its economic expansion. At this moment China is using its economic projects to make more friends and is turning tables in the Into-Pacific, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
China’s BRI in Asia, the $400 billion deal with Iran, and most importantly the 17+1 mechanism which aims at creating an economic integration with European countries present an image of China as a leading world leader with enough resources to lead economically and present a way forward for mutual economic growth.
However, this will not go unanswered by the falling hegemon. As Thucydides predicted two millennia ago, war is most likely to happen in a transition period like this.
The US is engaged at multiple fronts against the threat of Russia, Iran, and China. The move of getting closer with former Soviet-bloc countries, support for anti-government elements in and out of Iran, and political and military support for India, were all aimed at neutralising this threat.
The Ukraine conflict is the result of the very attempts by the US to take the war into Russia or near its borders instead of fighting somewhere else. Similarly, the countermeasures to contain Iran have miserably failed. Iran is growing faster with modern technologies, weapons and even oil exports. The latest sanctions seem to be a failure as Iran is exporting a similar quantity of oil per year as it was when sanctions were lifted in 2015.
US data shows that Iran’s oil export has increased. The export is equal to the time when the USA was in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Also, Iran is thawing relations with its Middle Eastern arch-rival Saudi Arabia and that can be seen as the greatest blow to the US. Saudi Arabia has changed it policies after the Ukrainian conflict and is drifting away from the US, getting closer to Russia, China, and even Iran.
The shift was noted when OPEC+ refused to increase oil production at the US request to solve possible shortages and price hikes caused by the halt of supplies by Russia. Responding to this, America stopped further sales of arms to KSA.
The Chinese leadership’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia shows that the Saudis do not want to be left alone in this new world order. The ongoing reshuffling at the international level, where players like Saudi Arabia are seen reconsidering their longstanding policies, is an indication of a new emerging block opposing the established global superpower.
Moreover, in the case of China’s containment, the US has so far failed in persuading its key allies in the Asia-Pacific and European regions to isolate Beijing. The BRI and bilateral or multilateral projects and trade with countries in Asia, including India, shows how China is enhancing its soft-power in the countries aligned with the US. Besides this, China has also entered Europe using the 17+1 mechanism.
The 17+1 mechanism focuses on entering Europe and forming an economically integrated system where the Europeans and Chinese are economically aligned. Misgivings are raised in Europe by the US, but so far achieved little to no serious successes. Putting pressure on Europe for the 17+1 mechanism, and the fight against Huawei, are key in understanding the factors that could drive a wedge between the US and its European allies, at least when it comes to collaboration against China in future.
Altogether, a multipolar world order is at our doorstep, and states like Saudi Arabia are accordingly reshuffling their policies.
For Pakistan, this provides a chance to re-engage bilaterally with Iran as it can assist Pakistan in defense and resolving energy problems. Pakistan should reconsider its foreign policy on Iran to not just resolve energy issues but also to counter the Indian threat by acquiring defense technologies from Iran.
Of all the variables leading to this multi-polarity, the biggest one is the way America keeps shooting itself in the foot. It now has 31trillion in debt. That number grows by an average of 1 trillion a year. In a few years, interest payments on that debt will exceed America’s military budget, which means it won’t be able to afford 850 billion/yr on the military much longer.
Part of the reason it’s finances are so out of whack is that it has spent the past 30 yrs shipping its manufacturing base overseas and is currently picking three fights around the world that make very little sense. Poking a nuclear armed bear on its doorstep while it rattles its saber at China and tries to keep Iran, the nation most logically suited to dominate the ME, from doing so too protect its imperial project in Israel. Scholars studying American strategy in the future will spend a lot of time wondering why it was so illogical but Ibn Khaldun figured this process out centuries ago. America is in its “senile” stage. The world better watch out bc even in its senility, it still has 4000 nukes and the only thing it makes now are weapons.
Pakistan should understand that india doesn’t care two hoots about Pakistan and has no territorial or expansionist interest.
The Pakistani military establishment has created a
Mindset and perpetuated the scaremongering to further its interest of aggrandizement of resources. While they have enriched themselves the ordinary Pakistani has been sold a false bill of goods.
One knows that Pakistanis will never accept the above observation but then it takes courage to face reality and not deal in escapism