Category Archives: Rising Power

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Is Obama’s Strategic Dilemma in Syria a Symptom of the Arrival of a Post-Superpower Era?

by Ehsan Ahrari on May 18, 2013, No Comments

The government of Bishara al-Assad, while predicted to have fallen many months ago, is hanging on, and is causing an agonizing dilemma on the part of the United States and Israel.  Both of them want to see the end of Assad's regime; however, neither of them wants to see Assad replaced by a nexus of Islamists and pro-AQ Jihadists in that country.  The sustained hesitation of the United States regarding Syria made John Kampfner of the Guardian wonder whether this is the first conflict of "the post-superpower era."  My sense is that Kampfner is not far off the mark, especially since the PRC is reported to be demonstrating a heightened interest in playing some role in the PLO-Israeli conflict. (more…)
INDIA RISING POWER UNITED STATES

India’s Unending Quest for a Mythical Hero

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 21, 2011, 1 Comment

One of the chief differences between India and China is that the latter has institutionalized the process of change in its top leadership, while India still suffers from a small-village mentality of relying on a "wise" leader from a clan.  In this instance, the focus is the Nehru clan, the family of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.  The Nehru family, directly or indirectly, has played a leading role in governing India throughout its existence as an independent nation, with only a few periods of interruption.  Sonia Gandhi – wife of one of India's Prime Ministers, Rajiv Gandhi, who was son of Indira Gandhi, another Prime Minister, and the grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru – is the real power behind the current Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).  Since she is suffering from an undisclosed ailment, which is unofficially described as some type of cancer, the talk is once again on about the succession to premiership of Rahul Gandhi.  He
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The Impending Power Shift is Not All Good News for PRC and All Bad News for U.S.

by Ehsan Ahrari on September 16, 2011, 1 Comment

The rise and fall of great powers appear very clear only in retrospect.  However, while it is happening, even the most imaginative scenario-builders are nagged by the looming uncertainty and the gnawing thought about whether they are witnessing a permanent or even a long-term trend, or whether they are watching only a "tempest in a teapot."  This is how I feel while witnessing the ostensible decline of the United States.  Unlike a number of strategic thinkers, I do not link the start of the seeming decline of the lone superpower to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  On the contrary, I relate it to the economic miasma that has been lurking over its horizon since 2008, and the related worsening mood inside the United States that is preventing members of the Democratic and Republican parties to agree on middle-of-the road compromises – which had long been one of the hallmarks of American political culture – to cure its economic decline. (more…)
CHINA RISING POWER UNITED STATES

Chris Patten’s Criticism of Kissinger’s Book, “On China”

by Ehsan Ahrari on September 3, 2011, No Comments

As I was going through my pile of old issues of the Financial Times, I came across an excellent review that Chris Patten wrote of Henry Kissinger's latest book, "On China."  For the uninitiated, Patten was the last governor of Hong Kong and is the Chairman of BBC Trust and the current Chancellor of the University of Oxford.  Even though I read a number of reviews of that book, what I liked about Patten's review was that he criticized Kissinger about what was also bothering me when I read his effusive praising of Mao.  Here is a master geostrategist of our time whose insight, more often than not, is very much on the mark, was clearly not pulling any punches.  (more…)
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China-U.S. Power Games

by Ehsan Ahrari on July 18, 2011, 1 Comment

In the continuing power games that Beijing and Washington are playing in different regions of the world, each side knows where to take advantage of the political vulnerabilities of the other side.  The best evidence of that fact is China's recent decision to sign a multi-billion deal to build new infrastructures in Iran.  In turn, it will be able to export large quantities of chrome ore from Iran.  China knows how sensitive the Obama administration remains about any major power's decision to expand its trade with Iran.  Even though China's decision to sign that agreement is purely driven by the mutuality of interests of the two actors, it also knows how much that measure would infuriate the United States.  Iran direly needs China's assistance in rebuilding its civilian infrastructures, while it maintains its significance to China as its third largest source of energy exports.  For its part, the Obama administration is taking advantage of China's increasing assertiveness and its
CHINA RISING POWER UNITED STATES

The Chinese Civilization As an Alternative to the Western Civilization?

by Ehsan Ahrari on July 13, 2011, 1 Comment

Reading Francis Fukuyama's writing is such a treat for the mind.  More often than not, he stimulates the reader to think original thoughts while making some highly provocative statements.  In his recent essay, "Mao's battle with Confucius for China's soul," he discusses China's deliberate attempt to promote "Confucianism as a serious ethical system on a par with western philosophy."  As China is attempting to compete with the United States in emerging as the next superpower, it has realized the significance of the "western values" that America constantly shoves in the faces of Chinese as something superior and as worthy  of emulating by the rest of the world.  Undoubtedly, the lone superpower has a point in doing that because that was also an essential aspect of the American agenda during the entirety of the Cold War.  Thus, when the Soviet Union imploded, the remaining superpower kept repeating the mantra that America's "victory" in the Cold War was also a victory for the c
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Risen China Learns to Become a “Conventional” Power

by Ehsan Ahrari on March 19, 2011, No Comments

When the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission gives a good grade to China for doing well in its exercise of "soft power," that is a big plus, because that organization is known for its hawkish.  It also indicates that the Chinese leaders are developing their unique style of handling global affairs – a style that ensures that their country's "rise" remains as conventional as possible.  However, since the PRC was a revolutionary power to start with, even when it started to act as a "conventional power" in the realm of global trade, there remained a lot of suspicion as to how conventional China would behave once it reached the pinnacle of its military power. (more…)