The G20 meeting in Shanghai is possibly one of the most crucial meeting of the times we’re in. The G20, the most powerful club in world politics, faces each other in a time, which is volatile and beset with challenges which are not just geo-political and economic, but which are deeply entrenched in policy as well as trust deficit issues. To highlight a few, Britain is now dangerously swaying for a Brexit, which was unthinkable even a few months back. Your humble correspondent predicted in the pages of this publication, that even though the Labour party lost the elections, it is the Conservative party, which is facing an internal civil war, over the question of Europe; a fact that is hidden by the astounding margin of Tory win in the elections, and a fact which will come to the forefront in a few months. With the rebellion of Boris Johnson, that prediction is coming true. Britain’s leaving EU would have unforeseen consequences, and frankly, no one can predict with accuracy whether it will be a good or a bad thing. For China, it will come at a time, when it is trying to decide whether Germany or Britain will be its financial partner for the EU market, and a British exit might just tilt the scale in favour of Frankfurt then London.
Date: March 2, 2016
Munich Security Conference focused attention and solidified the notion of something which was already implicitly known in the policy circles. The return of Russia as a Great power and the echoes of a new Cold war resonated in the Teutonic halls as one after the other major players thundered around the shady truce on Syria, which was immediately broken by Russian bombing in Aleppo. Not since the turbo charged ballistic 2007 speech by Vladimir Putin has this conference been so emotionally charged where Cold war era rhetoric of power politics were so blatantly used. What was intended to be a conference on an appraisal of the security situation of the world in general, turned out to be a conference about Russia and NATO with both sides blatantly taking sides in a highly partisan debate. It was a conference which as usual, didn’t involve the majority of the world’s big players, nor did it highlight their opinions, as the fate of chunks of humanity was decided. Powers like China and India, majority of Africa, situations in Asia, and Latin America was hardly discussed. Even Ukraine took a backseat as the whole focus was on Middle east, and by proxy, a rhetorical war between Russia and NATO.
To summarise the main events, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev was clear about the fact that the World is infact, sliding in to a new Cold war, as he pondered whether it seems more similar to 1962 that 2016. The situation looks grim, and if Kremlin decided it is a Cold war, it will possibly be one regardless of what anyone wants or not. Russia and the West are now involved in two proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria, with many more operational conflicts building up in different spheres, like Arctic buildup, and cyber and neo space race. NATO chairman of the military committee was pretty cynical in his outlook when he stated that the aim of the alliance is not containment of Russia anymore, but outright deterrence; a claim echoed by majority of East European countries, including most forcibly and vocally by the Foreign Minister of Poland. US Senator John McCain lamented powerfully, that the World order that US created is under threat, from “every corners”, a strong hint at China and Russia, and the erosion of US hard power as well as the decline of Western policy makers in global governance and the bickering within the Trans-Atlantic community.
Now, the important questions are these,
Japan is now the fourth country after US, Russia and China to unveil a successful prototype of what it claims to be a stealth fighter. It is an iconic moment, as Japan’s X-2 stealth fighter prototype is the country’s competition to the American F-35 Lightning II, Russia’s T-50, and China’s J-20. The X-2 is named “Shinshin” which translates to “Spirit of the Heart,” has been in development for over a decade costing Japan a whopper $294 million (2.3 billion yen). Japan is also planning its first test flight in February.
Now, the plane hasn’t flown yet so there’s no flight data or record, or performance, and analysts are already raising doubts about it. The structural aerodynamics look dodgy, and it was showcased without any weapon system. Anyone familiar with this field will now, that the whole dynamics changes when weapons systems are introduced in a flying platform, and no one is sure how the planes will behave once that happens. Similarly, analysts are not even sure this plane might even be weaponised or used for other purposes like surveillance. Suffice to say there is a long way to go for Japan when it comes to stealth technology.
One thing is however clear though, this showcases a fundamental shift in Japanese policy, which needs to be analysed and studied.