Russia has swallowed Crimea. What is next to unfold has yet to be seen. War and peace sound like simple concepts but global security is seldom simple. We try to portray world affairs from a humanist point of view, but where in this wide angle do geopolitical jockeying and defense maneuvering fit? When war breaks people lose loved ones; those who suffer are seldom those who decided to engage. In politics, different ideologies, turbulent histories, poor communication, national boundaries, new approaches to economics, and differences in race and religion, among other factors, oppose cooperation among people. Synthesizing these multiple sides is a puzzling issue for political science and international relations.
The threat of terrorism from invisible enemies surrounds us in such a way that most of us are skeptical about peace; we remain at all times on a war footing. Yet the peaceful resolution of the Cold War era lulled the world into a false sense of stability. There was hope that we would never again see a world war. However, the struggle for power and security is timeless. In Europe, Putin felt insecure while Russia’s soft underbelly Ukraine was exposed to the popular movement after his Comrade Viktor Yanukovych was disposed. Putin gambled with the Russian economy for the aims of his oligarchs and personal legacy.
The American dilemma is how to address Putin’s gambit in a global strategic context. Failure to engage in the Russian periphery will diminish the United States’ century-old hegemony and further change the power equation in the region. Nations in Russia’s shadow, from Azerbaijan to Estonia, will be forced to appease Moscow, re-establishing the Soviet-era power bloc. (See the Op-Ed.)
As Putin postures on the Ukrainian border, Asia is looking increasingly likely to be the scene of a European-style conflict. Sino-Japanese relations have been deteriorating for some time and continue to do so now on the matter of the Sikako Islands—eight uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea. And no conflict, whether in Eastern Europe or East Asia, would unfold without American involvement. The future no longer seems certain.
Outside of Russia’s sphere, in this quarter we have analyzed certain technological trends—Smart Cities and solar power—and the interconnectivity of national matters across South and Southeast Asia and both of America’s long borders—including Asian election fever, North American immigration, and Mexican drug cartels. Throughout the magazine our reverse periscope peers from the surface into the depths around the globe to pinpoint the realpolitik behind the scenes.
— Probir Kumar Sarkar (Editor’s Comment, Spring 2014)
To read more articles from the Spring 2014 issue, subscribe to our eReader edition.