|By Gulshan Luthra||Published: April 2017|
New Delhi. 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 Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald 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 increasing 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 China’s attempts to annex most of the South China Sea and also the acquisition of Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar for 40 or more years as a strategic naval base with its operational Command and Control lying with Beijing.
The developments have been there, and Mr Trump’s hard-line statements have only made them come to the fore. Both Russia and China 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 Mr 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, China’s second military ally after Pakistan, has warned again to destroy the US with long range nuclear missiles, and the US has vowed to penalise 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 tough time in fighting the Islamic terrorists who hide in, and operate from, the deep caves in the mountains. The terrorists conduct guerilla strikes from these caves and move back in, and according to reports from Washington, the commander of the US and international forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, had been considering the use of America’s biggest non-nuclear bomb, the MOAB, or Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, for some time.
In military terms, this was the right and appropriate weapon to demolish the deep caves and kill everyone – reportedly about a hundred at that time – in them by burning out the oxygen.
Nonetheless, the use of this Mother of All Bombs, technically designated GBU 43/B, has proved to be earth shattering in the global canvas of power play. To Russia and China, and those opposed to the US, this indicates an aggressive willingness on the part of Mr Trump to execute some threats he has been making.
Surprisingly, more than China, 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 S400, or still newer, to Syria.
As for Gwadar, and the string of naval facilities China is creating in the Indian Ocean, the implications are enormous. For China, Gwadar will now be The Pivot of its Look West strategy; it will be second non-regional, non-Indian Ocean power after the US to be there, not just for oil and trade but to play a dominant role in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and beyond.
As against the two former players in Cold War I, the United States and Soviet Union, this time, there are three, and although Russia may have more military muscle in terms of equipment, China will be placed far better to deliver its arsenal, thanks to its emerging Gwadar military base, some 70 submarines, three (including those planned) aircraft carriers, and a large fleet of ships that should have Gwadar as a home port.
China 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. The Cold War II will be bitter, and more threatening to humanity than the Cold War I.