The strategic situation at the turn of the year

Lothar Rühl


The partially long-time conflicts of supra-regional scale have determined the international security situation in 2017, and they will probably do it in foreseeable future as well. Neither the end of the conflicts nor political problem solutions have been in sight in 2017. “Crisis management” between the superpowers and alliances, together with contractual arms control with mostly distant disarmament objectives, which have been in the focus of international politics, has met the limits of its possibilities in view of the predominant facts. The examples North Korea, Pakistan as a state proliferating nuclear weapons technology into other countries, and the ambivalent case of Iran are thus “pars pro toto”. The changes between 1988 and 1991 have given a “multipolar power constellation, an international anarchy around the three global superpowers USA, China and – with restrictions – Russia, to the „New World Order“, also called „New World Security Order” or even “World Peace Order”, above all invoked by the West. The North Atlantic Alliance between Western Europe and North America as the foundation of the security in Europe has supported the transatlantic community, thus expanding Atlantic Europe towards the east, and under American leadership has also become an intervention power capable of acting globally. After 13 years of joint defence against an expanding islamistic threat and of permanent, if only marginal, military residual presence of the alliance in the Afghanistan theatre with the objective of defence and inner consolidation of the new Afghan state, however, the case of Afghanistan indicated the limitations of western intervention strategies. The geostrategic advantages of the North American continent continue to be a determinant of the distribution of global powers. The USA are still the strongest military power of the world, with the greatest range, manoeuvrability and punch of their armed forces, together with an intercontinental security distance as a continental power between two oceans against conventional attack threats. Like hitherto, the American nuclear power can deter. However, the vulnerability of the security of North America, as well as of all open countries taking part in international commerce, concerning unconventional attacks, has become the more obvious. For this there were examples of 2016 in “cyber space” – digital electronic reconnaissance and warfare with an option for “hybrid” warfare. The politics of the USA are decisive factor for international security, for the security in Europe, the establishment of peace in the Near and Middle East, as well as for supporting a political restructuring in Africa. One cannot, however, perceive a strategic concept, neither for Africa nor for the Orient. Even if the “tortuous path” of Donald Trump ends after four years it will leave disastrous damages in the world. Without Great Britain Europe will not be able and powerful enough to replace constructive American politics. Europe could only consolidate itself, without being able to even safeguard its flanks at its strategic peripheries.