By Gulshan Luthra
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Dold Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences.
In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers — Russia’s anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where it wants President Bashar Assad to stay, and Chi’s attempts to annex most of the South Chi Sea and also the acquisition of Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar for 40 or more years as a strategic val base with its operatiol Command and Control lying with Beijing.
Both Russia and Chi have stepped up military movements on land, air and sea, particularly around US allies like Japan.
The official Russian news agency Sputnik is steadily issuing hard-hitting statements against the US, particularly against Trump, and has let it be known that Russian strategic bombers like Tu-95 are flying near the US and Western countries, and battle ships are out in the Pacific near Japan and South Korea.
North Korea, Chi’s second military ally after Pakistan, has warned again of destroying the US with long-range nuclear missiles, and the US has vowed to pelise if it conducts another nuclear or missile test. As it happens, it may be remembered, Islamabad got its missile technology from Pyongyang in exchange for nuclear weapons tech, apparently with blessings from Beijing.
US, Western and Afghan forces have had a tough time in fighting the Islamic terrorists who hide in, and operate from, the deep caves in the mountains. The terrorists conduct guerrilla strikes from these caves and move back in and, according to reports from Washington, the commander of the US and intertiol forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, had been considering the use of America’s biggest non-nuclear bomb, the MOAB, or Massive Ordnce Air Blast, for some time.
In military terms, this was the right and appropriate weapon to demolish the deep caves and kill everyone in them — reportedly about a hundred at that time — by burning up the oxygen. Nonetheless, the use of this MOAB, technically desigted GBU 43/B, has proved to be earth-shattering in the global canvas of power play. To Russia and Chi, and those opposed to the US, this indicates an aggressive willingness on the part of Trump to execute some threats he has been making.
Surprisingly, more than Chi, it is Russia which is challenging the US with rhetoric and news reports of its new military innovations like making the world’s biggest nuclear submarine, and supplying new air defence missiles like the S400, or still newer, to Syria.
As for Gwadar, and the string of val facilities Chi is creating in the Indian Ocean, the implications are enormous. For Chi, Gwadar will now be The Pivot of its Look West strategy; it will be second non-regiol, non-Indian Ocean power after the US to be there, not just for oil and trade but to play a domint role in the warm waters of the ocean and beyond.
As against the two former players in Cold War-I, the United States and the Soviet Union, this time there are three, and although Russia may have more military muscle in terms of equipment, Chi will be far better placed to deliver its arsel thanks to its emerging Gwadar military base, some 70 submarines, three (including those planned) aircraft carriers, and a large fleet of ships that should bunker in Gwadar as a home port.
Chi has purchased some 5,000 acres of real estate in and around Gwadar, and for all practical purposes, it will be a Chinese Foreign Territory.
The implications are not only enormous but ominous. Cold War-II will be bitter, and more threatening to humanity than Cold War I. (IANS)
(Gulshan Luthra is Editor of India Strategic defence magazine and website. The opinions expressed are persol. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)