The wounded bear


A wounded bear is a dangerous bear. Just ask anyone who has hunted bears in places like Alaska. More people have been killed by injured bears in Alaska than people who have died in any ordinary bear attack. An injured bear is unpredictable and willing to take much more risks on the attack than an uninjured bear.

What has happened to Russia in the last three decades is the story of the wounded bear. Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperialism and his wars in, among others, Chechnya, Georgia, the Crimean peninsula and now the Donbas in Ukraine, are the typical actions of a trapped and wounded bear.

The British historian and author Niall Ferguson has been warning for years about the ingredients that are currently being stirred up worldwide and that could lead to a Third World War. Two weeks ago, Ferguson warned that the increasing cooperation between three isolated, estranged powers, namely Russia, China and Iran, could lead the world dangerously fast in the direction of an enormous war.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that Europe could enter an existential crisis with a military war against Russia on the one hand, and an economic war against China on the other.

The deceased American diplomat Henry Kissinger warned in 2019 that a new Cold War with China was developing. By 2022, Kissinger said, such a Cold War was already deepening. That the Chinese government, and specifically the Communist Party, bears serious blame for the rift between China and the West, the mistrust of Chinese trade and other policies and serious questions about Chinese military aspirations in the South China Sea and beyond is a fact.

Until as recently as a decade ago, there was an almost global consensus that China was becoming the biggest superpower and that within a few years China would overtake the USA economically, politically and militarily as the strongest and most influential global power. Today the picture looks different. China’s population is shrinking, the country is experiencing an internal debt crisis and sluggish local demand must be made up for by increased exports of increasingly subsidized production. This is not sustainable.

However, China is still a very important power, and the Cold War between the West and China is still deepening, which poses an increasing risk to the entire world. Along with this, Russia and China are becoming stronger allies by the day, something that also seemed unlikely a few years ago.

Kissinger warned in 2022 that the current Cold War between the West and China will be more dangerous than the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union. Last week, Ferguson wrote that various proxy wars, such as between Israel and the Palestinians, or between the Houthi rebels and the West, or even the rising tension between China and Taiwan, or China and the Philippines are all signs of the Cold War.

Should China eventually, like Russia, become further isolated, and even economically wounded, China could become even more dangerous than Russia. These two together in a battle against the West portend great danger. Therefore, a new order of global power relations may be necessary. India’s plea for a multi-alignment approach in global relations, rather than a small group of warring superpowers dominating institutions such as the United Nations, makes sense.

In the meantime, we have to accept that the risk of a global battle with Russia and China working more closely together is increasing daily.