Geopolitics

AUKUS & Its impact on Geopolitical relations: not all is glittering gold
Geopolitics

AUKUS & Its impact on Geopolitical relations: not all is glittering gold

 Australia Australia AUKUS, the alliance between the USA, Australia, and Great Britain, came into existence to strengthen the presence of the group in the Indo-Pacific region as well as to counter the growing domination of China. But it has also come with a ripple effect, not all is glittering gold when it has come to this coalition.

A recently conducted Guardian Essential poll shows that though a big majority of Australians back the alliance with the US and UK, many also share concerns over repercussions of the new union over relations with China and Europe.

A poll conducted with 1,094 Australians, 62% said that Scott Morrison was right to enter a nuclear submarine deal through AUKUS with UK and US. On the other hand, 54% approved “The AUKUS partnership is in Australia’s best security and economic interests.” While 55% of the respondents said that this could bring Australia and China head-on and further deteriorate the unsettling relations. They also thought that by infuriating France over canceling the $90 billion deal with the Naval Group the future trade ties with European Union and France have been jeopardized.

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China is largely viewed by Australians, responding to the poll, as a country with a “complex relationship to be managed”. Around 24% described China as “a threat to be confronted” and 10% said Australia’s relationship with Beijing is a “positive opportunity to be realized”.

When it comes to alliances, all countries don’t seem to sit well on the same page. Apart from the AUKUS alliance, Australia also shares an informal Quad alliance with the USA, India, and Japan. Last week during Quad defense talks in the US, divisions came to the forefront over adopting a net-zero emissions reduction target by 2050.

It has become pretty evident that though the AUKUS alliance is formed with the aim to empower Australia with nuclear submarine deals and tackling China in the region, the consequences might go to extremes in relation to trade and regional relations with Europe as well as China.

Asia is Strategic, But the United States Wants to Work with Europe
Geopolitics

Asia is Strategic, But the United States Wants to Work with Europe

After the birth of Aukus, the partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States destined to tackle Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific, France said that Europe feels cut off from American foreign policy and that the United States must regain European confidence. After the withdrawal from Afghanistan, European allies have already expressed their concern for a “foreign policy for the middle class” that will reduce the international commitments of the United States.

Some have said that Biden’s “America is back” slogan is the Donald Trump’s “America first continuation. Since President Joe Biden took over from him in January, he affirmed his desire to rebuild alliances. Biden’s first and only trip was to Europe. His second trip as president will be to Europe for the G20 and attend the European climate change summit.

The US with Europe paid great attention to revitalizing climate change and vaccines, public health, and an economy that works for the people. They are also working together in resolving trade disputes between the US and EU and thriving together. The Chinese challenge is being felt more and more in the world, and if Asia is strategic, the United States wants to work with Europe. There will be areas where Washington can partner with China and areas where it competes.

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Although the European Union thinks of strategic autonomy, NATO remains the foundation of transatlantic defense and a security guarantee for Westerners. But the United States wants a fairer division of responsibilities from allies, so initiatives to increase European capabilities are welcome as long as they operate in connection with the transatlantic alliance. As a result of the phone call between Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, the French ambassador will return to Washington next week to engage in conversations with the US government and build concrete measures and common goals.

The 2021 ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Singapore annual report on the Southeast Asia conditions highlighted that more than 55% of respondents trust the United States as a strategic partner and guarantor of regional security compared to 34.9 % of the previous year.  A Biden effectseems to be confirmed by the widespread feeling that the new Administration will increase the US commitment in the region (68.6%). The agreement between the leaders of the quartet, for example, provides for greater collaboration between their respective countries on innovation with the aim declared to set the criteria that will guide the development of new technologies.

The creation of new standards and regulations, alternatively in open conflict with the Chinese ones, could pave the way for the much-mentioned technological decoupling between the United States and China with heavy repercussions for countries that consider themselves neutral and companies that operate internationally.

Will the New Trilateral AUKUS Alliance Impact the Quad Summit?
Geopolitics

Will the New Trilateral AUKUS Alliance Impact the Quad Summit?

-Washington. On September 15, the new trilateral strategic defense alliance AUKUS between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom was signed to tackle the rise of China as it poses a growing threat to the Indo-pacific region. 

However, why the US left out India, Japan, the EU, and France from the new security alliance is unclear. Moreover, analysts are observing if the new Trilateral Alliance shows any impact on the Quad summit.

The AUKUS alliance will permit the US and the UK to furnish Australia with exciting technology to produce nuclear-powered submarines. 

This move by the US annoyed the EU and France. France recalled its diplomat to the US and Australia following the AUKUS security alliance was declared. France likewise lost a valuable contract to manufacture conventional submarines for Australia. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has defined the trilateral alliance as a stab in the back by the US and called it unacceptable behavior among partners and allies.”

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On Wednesday, in a bid to repair relations, President Biden and Macron conceded to have an open discussion among allies on issues of strategic importance to France that would help improve the situation.

The Indian political analysts are divided on the effect of AUKUS on the Quad. Some contend that it reduces Quad’s unique essence, while others say that the trilateral alliance will strengthen the Quad. A fair assessment proposes that AUKUS will have both positive and negative ramifications on the Quad; these will become apparent after the forthcoming conference. 

According to sources close to the matter told The Hindustan Times, “We do not expect militarising the Quad”. India has happily welcomed the non-security and the non-military route the Quad has acquired lately as it has raised its concerns to the top level, driven by US President Biden, the source added.

However, according to the Asia Times, neither Japan nor India hold such convincing geopolitical importance for Washington as Australia, the centre of America’s Indo-Pacific system – with the Indian Ocean lying in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Hence, it equips Australia with an armada of controlled atomic submarines of state of the art innovation to patrol the Indian Ocean just as the Pacific Ocean. 

China has sharply criticized the Quad and the trilateral AUKUS alliance, expressing that such selective grouping lacks future and will seriously subvert regional stability, intensify the arms race, and hamper global non-proliferation efforts.

The US will be driving the project in the Trilateral Alliance. Yet, there is no official announcement on the precise technology utilized in the project and what role the UK will play in the supply of submarines.

How Covid-19 Has Impacted Global Supply Chain
Geopolitics

How Covid-19 Has Impacted Global Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the business environment for many organizations around the globe. On the onset of this, it has made everyone realize the significance of being able to react, adapt and set up crisis management mechanisms to weather situations of uncertainty. 

With the strict restrictions and lockdowns being imposed, it created many urgent situations that required immediate attention in the early days of the pandemic, although many companies have now begun to move to a recovery mode and have started planning for the longer term.

One such term which becomes prominent during these days is mild stagflation. It is primely because inflation is rising in the United States and in many advanced economies, and growth is slowing sharply, despite massive monetary, credit, and fiscal stimulus.

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However, a consensus could be seen that the growth rate has slowed down in the US, China, Europe, and other major economies. It is believed that it is the result of supply bottlenecks in labour and goods markets. There could be multiple factors behind this mini stagflation. Starting with, the Delta variant is temporarily boosting production costs, reducing output growth, and constraining labour supply. 

It is noted that workers who are still receiving the enhanced unemployment benefits, will expire in September as they are reluctant to return to the workplace with the raging Delta virus. Parents with children may need to stay at home, owing to school closures and the lack of affordable childcare.

Radically changing an existing supply chain is not as easy as it may sound, as creating a robust and secure supply chain will still need to balance the demands for cost efficiency. 

Alongside, new logistics considerations may also have an impact on supply chains and the changes. In the near term, it is expected that companies will begin seeking out a more diversified supplier base while looking to develop a flexible, but cost-efficient, supply chain.

China to Join Trans Pacific-Free-Trade Pact
Geopolitics

China to Join Trans Pacific-Free-Trade Pact

So as to join Pacific-free-trade, China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao submitted the application to join the free trade agreement. It was announced in a letter to New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor. The agreement was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand in 2018.

Before that, it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s regional influence. Two days back, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced that it has applied to join the 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade group. If China joins, that will quadruple the total population within the group to some 2 billion people. It has promised that it will increase imports of goods.

However, it also faces complaints that it fails to carry out promises made when it joined the WTO in 2001. Foreign minister of China, Zhao Lijian asserted that the export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards.

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This trade agreement is essentially an updated version of the ill-fated Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s regional influence. That deal was negotiated by the Obama administration, but was not ratified by the US.

When Donald Trump took office he pulled the US out of the trade pact. It should be noted that China is also a member of various other trading arrangements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which includes many nations in Asia that are not part of this Pacific-free-trade pact.

Energy Crisis in Europe is Making the Market Nervous
Geopolitics

Energy Crisis in Europe is Making the Market Nervous

Due to extreme shortage of natural gas, energy prices in Europe have hit record low. They are generating much lower than expected wind power output. Several countries have even been forced to restart coal power plants to ensure enough electricity reaches to all the consumers.

Stefan Konstantinov, who is senior analyst at ICIS Energy mentioned that Europe’s energy supply crunch is making the market nervous as we approach winter. It should be noted that energy bills are most expensive ones in Europe now. And this price has surged due to country’s high dependence on gas and renewables to generate electricity from scarce resources or to import from other countries.

It doesn’t just stop here rather these higher gas prices have also been a big driver in lifting carbon and coal prices to record highs too. Factors such as low wind generation and nuclear plant unavailability across the continent are few of the key factors that play important role.

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Carbon prices in Europe have nearly trebled this year as the European Union reduces the supply of emissions credits. The EU’s benchmark carbon price climbed above 60 euros per metric ton for the first time ever in recent weeks, trading slightly below.

Konstantinov further added that high energy consumption and low production across Europe is also coupled with the very significant competition for LNG supplies from Asia and South America, which is driving gas prices up.

The people in Europe are fearing being in this energy crisis state especially because they have never faced widespread risk of blackouts, such as those seen in California, Texas and New York.

Another might be that energy cost as a proportion of income remains below historical levels. Europeans rank climate change as one of the top concerns in their continent, this may lead them to accept slightly higher energy prices if it leads to a lower-carbon world.

Iran’s Hardline Cabinet to Force US on its Stance
Geopolitics

Iran’s Hardline Cabinet to Force US on its Stance

Iranian high-ups are of the opinion that placing a new hardline cabinet can force concessions in talks on Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran’s latest step is marked by the messy US withdrawal from Afghanistan – thinking that the lost superpower can now be brought to its knees. Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, a hardline diplomat, was named to replace Abbas Araqchi on Tuesday.

Kani is a seasoned pragmatist diplomat. Tehran hopes his appointment will lead to a lifting of U.S. sanctions. He had been a negotiator in the nuclear talks under former hardline president Ahmadinejad from 2007 to 2013. It merits a mention that he is a close relative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Kani is a face of the hardline deep state that is in charge across all institutions in Iran now and can readily negotiate with the West as he is not only representing the government but carries the empowerment of the inner circle,” said Krieg Andreas, professor at the School of Security at King’s College, London. “The US airlift from Afghanistan has given Tehran more confidence in their surrogate warfare approach – signifying that the US is on the backseat in the region.”

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Iran has cautioned Washington and its Gulf allies by relying on proxies in Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon to spread its influence across the Middle East steadily. Indirect talks between the United States and Iran stopped in June, days after Raisi was named president of Iran. Antony Blinken – US Secretary of State – said last week that time was running out for Iran to get back to the nuclear accord.

Iran’s enrichment with advanced centrifuges remains an unresolved issue, and so does the easing of US sanctions, Tehran’s export of oil and its payment via an international bank. Both Washington and Tehran see each other with suspicion.

Bringing Balkan States Is In EU’s Best Geo- Political Interest: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor
Geopolitics

Bringing Balkan States Is In EU’s Best Geo- Political Interest: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic understood the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel pretty well as she stressed on how important it was for Balkan states to come and work together. While speaking in the Serbian capital of Belgrade at a joint news conference she said that it was entirely in the ‘an absolute geo-strategic interest for us to really include these countries into the EU.’ Merkel is aware and didn’t mince her words when she said there were other suitors eyeing these nations.

It was therefore imperative for the European Union to move in quickly and integrate with these nations. The Western Balkan states — which include Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo — have for decades sought EU membership. But due to the bloc’s stalled interest in enlargement and the years of diplomatic crises the EU faced as Britain left the bloc, those Balkan nations have been left to seek other alliances, including with Russia and China.

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Vucic praised Ms. Merkel’s stand though he is known for his autocratic leadership that has throttled independent media, stalled the rule of the law and interfered in fair and free elections. However, he continues to be a great admirer and proponent of Merkel. As Merkel’s leadership stands, she is always able to find a silver lining in the most negative situations too.

She has never spoken ill of Vucic publicly because she continues to believe he can be the only bridging gap between a few Balkan states. He seems to be the only one who can bring Kosovo, a breakaway from the former Serbian province whose independence Serbia and its allies Russia and China don’t recognize, while the U.S., Germany and most of the West do.

Merkel is considered one of the most powerful women politicians in the world. A theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, she will stand down after federal elections on 26 September, 2021.

What’s Europe’s Strategy to Counter Afghan Refugee Crisis?
Geopolitics

What’s Europe’s Strategy to Counter Afghan Refugee Crisis?

Haunted by the 2015 migration crisis – which was fueled by the Syrian war – European leaders clearly wished to escape another large-scale influx of migrants and refugees from Afghanistan. Apart from the people who helped Western forces in Afghanistan’s two-decade war, the message to the rest considering fleeing to Europe was: If you want to leave, go to neighbouring countries, but please don’t come here.

Emmanuel Macron’s talk with his nation on Aug. 16 summed up the reality Europeans would face after the US troops withdrew from Afghanistan. Macron, addressing the country, highlighted that Europeans need to prevent the surge of international terror groups in Afghanistan and prep themselves up for a flow of irregular migrants. One clear thing was that the Biden administration had decided to withdraw from Afghanistan without taking its European allies on board.

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Even though European states engaged in Afghanistan via NATO to showcase their solidarity primarily with the United States, however, Biden’s haste highlights the problem of the absence of geopolitical thinking among European leaders — the consequence of which could be faced in the form of illegal migrations.

Consequently, the leaders have agreed to provide financial assistance to neighbouring countries of Afghanistan — most of which are likely to see a huge influx of refugees — with the hope that they act as border lines for preventing migrations to Europe.

The current approach for the impending Afghan refugee crisis is along the lines of the process that the EU adopted earlier — offering financial aid to transit and neighbouring countries in exchange for them taking in the migrants. In other words, the EU is relying on economic means once again to come to terms with the geopolitical repercussions of a conflict. Central Asian republics have, for their part, made it clear already that they will not house Afghan refugees for a long time.

Biden and Xi Talk on phone to calm  Diplomatic Tension between the Two  Nations
Geopolitics

Biden and Xi Talk on phone to calm Diplomatic Tension between the Two Nations

After seven months on Thursday, US President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation to calm the diplomatic stress between the two nations. US President Biden initiated the call with Prime Minister Xi; this is the second call since Biden took office.

The two countries have been confronting issues such as Beijing’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, cyber security violations arising from China, and what the White House has marked as unfair trade practices by the government of China. However, Biden’s aim during the 90-minute call was to zero in less on these issues, rather than he focused on talking about the way ahead to better the US-China relationship after it got off to a pretty rough beginning.

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The White House stated in the statement that the two leaders had a comprehensive, strategic conversation wherein they talked about topics where our concerns match and areas of shared values and perspectives differ. We are optimistic that the two nations can cooperate on issues of common interest, including environmental change and forestalling an atomic crisis on the Korean Peninsula despite increasing tensions, expressed The White House.

Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized that both the nations should proceed with their talks on recovery of the global economy, preventing epidemic and climate change while keeping aside our differences. Jinping told his US counterpart that the US policies towards Beijing have caused genuine problems and that returning to resolving ties was crucial for the global future.

Xi likewise cautioned that confrontation between the world’s top economies would bring difficulty for both countries and the world.

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