JUNE - 2020

Middle Power Diplomacy: India and Australia

What is Middle Power Diplomacy?

  • In international relations diplomacy, a middle power is a sovereign state that is neither a great power nor a superpower, but still has large or moderate influence and international recognition in several sphere of the relation.


India as Middle Power:

  • Having deeper ties with middle powers like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, Saudi Arabia are important for India at a time when the magnitude of the United States’ global influence is declining due to the rapid growth of China.
  • Secondly, improving growth trajectories of numerous middle powers like Australia, Japan, Indonesia in south-east Asian and Oceania region.
  • Collaborating with these countries can help India progress from being a South Asian power to an Asian and eventually global power.


Reducing the gap in India’s diplomatic latency:

  • India remains preoccupied with the perennial challenges in its neighbourhood, resulting in missing out on the opportunities for productive partnerships with the middle powers.
  • Virtual summit between Prime Minister of India and the Australian premier is an important part of Delhi’s current diplomatic effort to plug that big gap in India’s diplomatic tradition.


Opportunities Australia holds for India:

  • Economic weight: With a GDP of more than US$1.4 trillion, Australia is the 13th largest economy in the world, following closely behind Russia which stands at $1.6 trillion. Australia is rich in natural resources that India’s growing economy needs.
  • Knowledge Transfer: It also has huge reservoirs of strength in higher education, scientific and technological research.
  • Security: Its armed forces, hardened by international combat, are widely respected. Canberra’s intelligence establishment is valued in many parts of the world.
  • Regional player: Australia has deep economic, political and security connections with the ASEAN and a strategic partnership with one of the leading non-aligned nations, Indonesia. Canberra has a little “sphere of influence” of its own — in the South Pacific (now under threat from Chinese penetration).
  • All these Australian strengths should be of interest and value to India.


Comparing India and China’s approach to Middle powers

  • A gap of nearly three decades between Indian PM’s visit to Australia in 1986 and then in 2014 only underlines how short-sighted India’s neglect of Australia has been.
  • It was exactly in these years that China transformed its relationship with Australia.
  • Delhi’s temptation to judge nations on the basis of their alignments with other powers stands in contrast to Beijing.
  • Beijing puts interests above ideology, promotes interdependence with a targeted middle power, turns it into political influence and tries to weaken its alignment with the rival powers.


Growing India-Australia relations

  • The Indian diaspora — now estimated at nearly 7,00,000— is the fastest growing in Australia and has become an unexpected positive factor in bilateral relations.
  • Common membership of many groupings like the G-20, East Asia Summit, IORA, and the Quad has increased the possibilities for diplomatic cooperation on regional and global issues.
  • Other host of emerging issues — from reforming the World Health Organisation to 5G technology and from strengthening the international solar alliance to building resilience against climate change and disasters — can lend to intensive bilateral political and institutional engagement.


Geopolitics and Security cooperation

  • The geopolitical churn in the Indo-Pacific, growing Chinese assertiveness and the uncertain US political trajectory open space for security cooperation.
  • Over the last few years, defence engagement between the two countries has grown.
  • Defence engagement is likely to be capped by a military logistics support agreement to be unveiled at the summit.
  • For future, there is a need from both security establishments to develop strategic coordination in the various sub-regions of the Indo-Pacific littoral.
  • The eastern Indian Ocean that lies between the shores of peninsular India and the west coast of Australia ought to be the top priority.
  • This is where Delhi and Canberra can initiate a full range of joint activities.
  • Joint activities should include maritime domain awareness, development of strategically located islands and marine scientific research.


Seeking trilateral cooperation with Indonesia

  • The sea lines of communication between the Indian and Pacific oceans run through the Indonesian archipelago.
  • Given the shared political commitment to the Indo-Pacific idea between Delhi, Jakarta and Canberra and the growing pressures on them to secure their shared waters, Modi and Morrison must seek trilateral maritime and naval cooperation with Indonesia.


Strategic Diamond Diplomacy:

  • Japan and Australia are integral to India’s aspirations of becoming a net security provider; and India and Australia have already signed a Framework for Security Cooperation in November 2014.
  • Along with India and the U.S., these two countries constitute the “strategic diamond” promoted by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
  • They can be critical to the U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region to India’s own strategic influence in Asia.


Relation between India & FPDA:

  • There is the less discussed role of Britain, which wants to return to the oriental seas.
  • In the east, Britain continues to lead the so-called Five Power Defence Arrangement set up back in 1971, after Britain pulled back most of its forces from the East of Suez.
  • The FPDA brings together the armed forces of the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.



  • It is only by building a series of overlapping bilateral and multilateral platforms for regional security cooperation that Delhi and Canberra can limit the dangers of the growing geopolitical imbalance in the Indo-Pacific and utilise the long due strategic relation and importance amongst the Middle Powers.

India: Multilateralism in the new World order

Shifting Global Scenario:

  • In the new cold war, defined by technology and trade not territory, non-alignment is an uncertain option; India should craft a global triumvirate.
  • The global governance, economy, scientific research and society are all in need of structural renovation.
  • India should use this opportunity to recover its global thought leadership.
  • China is losing influence and the dynamics in its relations with the United States.


The US-China powerplay and its significance:

  • The clash between China and the U.S. at the recently concluded World Health Assembly in May marks End of the Multilateralism of the past 70 years.
  • The donor-recipient relationship between developed and developing countries has ended with China’s pledge of $2-billion to WHO.
  • The agenda-setting role of the G7 over UN institutions and global rules has also been effectively challenged by, WHO ignoring the reform diktat of the U.S. leading to its withdrawal, and characterisation of the G7 as “outdated”.
  • The U.S. has also implicitly rejected the G20 and UN Security Council, for an expanded G7 “to discuss the future of China”.


Major shift in the UN:

  • when U.S.A imposed global institutions fostering trade, capital and technology dependence.
  • After World War II, the newly independent states were not consulted, this was done ignoring the socio-economic development of these countries.
  • But socio-economic rights have emerged to be as important as political and procedural rights.
  • Against this backdrop, China deftly endorsed the UN Resolution on equitable access to any new vaccine.


Emergence of Asia and China: the role of Digital Revolution:

  • the West experiencing a shock comparable to the one experienced by Asia, 200 years ago, the superiority of western civilisation is also under question.
  • At the same time, there is a clear trend of declining global trust in free-market liberalism, central to western civilisation.
  • The U.S. faces an uphill task in seeking to lead a new multidimensional institution in the face of China’s re-emergence.
  • The re-emergence of China is based on technology, innovation and trade balancing U.S. military superiority.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift of global wealth to Asia suggesting an inclusive global order based on principles drawn from ancient Asian civilisations.
  • The Digital Revolution will be shaped by different values., it is really this clash that multilateralism has now to resolve.


New principles for international system:

  • At the online summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indian Prime Minister called for new principles for the international system.
  • His new globalisation model based on humanity, fairness and equality has wide support in a more equal world as, for the first time since 1950, everyone is experiencing the same (virus) threat.


Favourable scenario for India to propose new Multilateralism:

  • The global vacuum, shift in relative power and its own potential, provides India the capacity to articulate a benign multilateralism.
  • It should include in its fold NAM-Plus that resonates with large parts of the world and brings both BRICS and the G7 into the tent.
  • Consider the following- a rare alignment of stars for agenda-setting.

1. In September, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the theme, “The Future We Want”.

2. In 2021, India joins the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat).

3. And chairs the BRICS Summit in 2021.

4. Also hosts the G-20 in 2022.

  • This new multilateralism should rely on outcomes, not rules, ‘security’ downplayed for ‘comparable levels of wellbeing’ and a new P-5 that is not based on the G7.
  • China, through an opinion piece by its Ambassador in India, has suggested writing “together a new chapter” with “a shared future for mankind”.
  • The U.S. wants a security partnership to contain China.
  • And the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade bloc — with the U.S. walking out of the negotiations — is keen India joins to balance China.


Three principles the new system should be based on:

  1. Peaceful coexistence
  • the Asian Century should be defined in terms of peaceful co-existence, freezing post-colonial sovereignty.
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of others is a key lesson from the decline of the U.S. and the rise of China.
  • National security now relies on technological superiority in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber and space, and not expensive capital equipment, as India’s military has acknowledged.
  • Instead of massive arms imports, India should use the savings to enhance endogenous capacity.
  • Enhance the global digital economy between state-centric (China), firm-centric (the U.S.) and public-centric (India) systems.
  1. New principles of trade:
  • A global community at comparable levels of well-being requires new principles for trade, for example, rejecting the 25-year-old trade rule creating intellectual property monopolies.
  • Global public goods should include public health, crop research, renewable energy and batteries, even AI as its value comes from shared data.
  • India has the scientific capacity to support these platforms as part of foreign policy.
  1. Civilizational values:
  • Ancient civilizational values provide the conceptual underpinning, restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development.
  • Which is what a climate change impacted world, especially what Africa is seeking.

India’s moment at the WHO

Challenges: India as the head of the WHO executive board:

  • Minister of Health and Family Welfare is elected as the Chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board.
  • The 34-member body is tasked with implementing the decisions of the recently concluded World Health Assembly (WHA).
  • The elevation affords India an important platform to steer the global public health response to COVID-19.
  • It also comes at a time when the WHO is being criticised politically as never before.
  • So, as WHO executive body chair, India will have to navigate this treacherous power landscape with candour and tact.


WHO: caught between the US-China crossfire –

  • Recently, U.S. President wrote a letter to the WHO Director-General, threatening to make permanent, his temporary funding freeze as well as reconsider the its membership in the organisation if the latter did not commit to major substantive reforms within 30 days.
  • By contrast, at the WHA plenary, Chinese President pledged $2 billion to fight the virus.
  • He also promised to pair up 30 African hospitals with domestic counterparts, accelerate the building of the Africa Centres for Disease Control headquarters, and ensure that vaccine development in China, when available, would be made a global public good.


Following 5 elements should inform its policy approach.

  1. Set epidemic prevention and control as a priority
  • India must insist that epidemic prevention and control remain the international community’s foremost priority.
  • As the virus’ chain of transmission is broken, the focus should shift to identifying the animal-to-human transmission origins of SARS-CoV-2.
  • China shares an important interest in facilitating international access to investigate COVID-19’s zoonotic origins.


  1. Review the early response of China and WHO to outbreak
  • India should lean on the WHO secretariat to fast-track the “impartial, independent, and comprehensive review” of the WHO’s – and China’s – early response to the outbreak.
  • The review’s findings should illuminate best practice and highlight areas for improvement, both in the WHO’s leadership and capacity as well as member states’ implementation of the International Health Regulations.
  • The WHO-China Joint Mission featuring renowned global epidemiologists had termed China’s early COVID-19 response as the “most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history”.


  1. Ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all
  • For ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines for all countries, India must promote the establishment of an appropriate multilateral governance mechanism.
  • The envisaged voluntary pooling mechanism to collect patent rights and regulatory test data should be suitably tailored to the needs of crisis.
  • And the World Trade Organization’s intellectual property rights provisions should be overridden as is allowed during a public health emergency to assure affordable vaccine availability.


  1. Taiwan issue at WHA: India should stay aloof
  • India must stay away from the West’s campaign to re-seat Taiwan as an observer at the WHA.
  • When Taipei last attended in 2016, it did so under the explicit aegis of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, whereby the UN considers Taiwan to be an integral part of the People’s Republic of China.
  • That the independence-minded Tsai government is unwilling to concede this basis for attendance has more to do with domestic political manoeuvring than Chinese or international ostracism.


  1. Global ban on consumption of wild animals
  • With two-thirds of emerging infections and diseases now arising from wildlife, the destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss must be taken much more seriously.
  • India must lead the call for a permanent global ban on the consumption and trade of wild animals.
  • This ban should be with limited exceptions built-in for scientific research, species protection and traditional livelihood interests.

“A Special Relationship” - Nepal and India

Bigger fissures in relation:

  • Any new framework for engaging Kathmandu must involve two important departures from the past in Delhi.
  1. First is coming to terms with Nepal’s natural politics of balance.
  2. The other is the recognition that Delhi’s much-vaunted “special relationship” with Kathmandu is part of the problem.
  • As the parliament in Nepal gets ready to approve a new map that will include parts of Indian territory in Uttarakhand, Delhi is bracing for yet another knock to a bilateral relationship.
  • Even if the territorial issue had been finessed, something else would have triggered the breakdown.
  • A closer look suggests that the territorial dispute is merely a symptom of the structural changes.
  • These structural changes are unfolding in the external and internal context of the bilateral relationship.
  • Delhi should be looking ahead to build more sustainable ties with Kathmandu.


A glimpse at the history of Nepal’s geopolitics:

  • The founder of the modern Nepali state, Prithvi Narayan Shah, described Nepal as a “yam between two rocks”.
  • He was pointing to the essence of Nepal’s geographic condition between the dominant power in the Gangetic plains on the one hand and Tibet and the Qing empire on the other.
  • Contrary to the conventional wisdom in India, China has long been part of Kathmandu’s international relations.
  • As the East India Company gained ground at the turn of the 19th century, Nepal’s rulers made continuous offers to Beijing to act as China’s frontline against Calcutta’s expansion into the Himalayas.
  • Kathmandu also sought to build a coalition of Indian princes to counter the Company.
  • Even after it lost the first Anglo-Nepal war in 1816, Kathmandu kept up a continuous play between Calcutta and Beijing.
  • As the scales tilted in the Company’s favour after the First Opium War (1839-42), Nepal’s rulers warmed up to Calcutta.
  • When the 1857 Mutiny shook the Company, Kathmandu backed it and regained some of the territories it lost when the British Raj replaced the Company.
  • As the fortunes of the Raj rose, Kathmandu rulers enjoyed the benefits of being Calcutta’s protectorate.


Why the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950) lost its appeal?

  • The 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship gave the illusion of continuity in Nepal’s protectorate relationship with the Raj and its successor, independent India.
  • That illusion was continuously chipped away amid the rise of mass politics in Nepal, growing Nepali nationalism, and Kathmandu’s acquisition of an international personality.
  • The 1950 Treaty, which proclaims an “everlasting friendship” between the two nations, has become the symbol of Indian hegemony in Nepal.
  • In a paradox, its security value for India has long been hollowed out.
  • It is a political millstone around India’s neck that Delhi is unwilling to shed for the fear of losing the “special relationship”.
  • Delhi has been trapped into a perennial political play among Kathmandu’s different factions and responding to Nepal’s China card.


Weakening of “special relationship”: Essence of Nepal’s foreign policy

  • Once the Chinese Communist Party consolidated its power in Tibet and offered assurances to Nepal, Kathmandu’s balancing impulses were back in play.
  • At the risk of oversimplification, Nepal’s foreign policy since the 1950s has, in essence, been about weakening the “special relationship” with India and building more cooperation with China.
  • Kathmandu has used different labels to package its desire for greater room for manoeuvre between its two giant neighbours — non-alignment, diversification, “zone of peace”, equidistance, and a Himalayan bridge between India and China.
  • The stronger China has become, the wider have Kathmandu’s options with India become.


What future holds?

  • No bilateral relationship between nations can be built on sentiment — whether it is based on faith, ideology or inheritance. Only those rooted in shared interests will endure.
  • It makes no sense for Delhi to hanker after a “special relationship” that a large section of Kathmandu does not want.
  • If Delhi wants a normal and good neighbourly relationship with Kathmandu, it should put all major bilateral issues on the table for renegotiation.
  • Such issues should include the 1950 treaty, national treatment to Nepali citizens in India, trade and transit arrangements, the open border and visa-free travel.
  • Delhi should make it a priority to begin talks with Nepal on revising, replacing, or simply discarding the 1950 treaty.
  • It should negotiate a new set of mutually satisfactory arrangements.
  • India had conducted a similar exercise with Bhutan to replace the 1949 treaty during 2006-07.
  • The issues and political context are certainly more complicated in the case of Nepal.
  • It is better that Delhi bites the bullet and makes a fresh beginning with Kathmandu rather than let the relationship deteriorate.
  • It should bet that the logic of Nepal’s economic geography, its pursuit of enlightened self-interest, and Kathmandu’s natural balancing politics, will continue to provide a strong framework for India’s future engagement with Nepal.

What is Antifa Movement?

Antifa: The group

  • Antifa is an acronym for ‘Anti-Fascist’.
  • It is not an organisation with a leader nor does it have a defined structure or membership.
  • Antifa has been around for several decades, though accounts vary on its exact beginnings.
  • The term dates as far back as Nazi Germany, describing the etymology of ‘Antifa’ as “borrowed from German Antifa, Antifaschistische Aktion ‘anti-fascist’.
  • Rather, Antifa is more of a movement of activists whose followers share a philosophy and tactics.
  • It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past few years to oppose the far right.
  • Antifa members campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic.


Activism over years:

  • Antifa members typically dress in black and often wear a mask at their demonstrations, and follow far-left ideologies such as anti-capitalism.
  • The group also participates in non-violent protests. Apart from public counter-protests, Antifa members run websites that track white extremist and ultra-right groups.


Why the US seeks to ban Antifa?

  • As massive protests following the death of a person in racial discrimination continued to rock the US President has announced that the alleged far-left group Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organisation by his government.
  • Antifa is considered the loosely affiliated group of far-left anti-fascist activists.



  • The movement has been widely criticised among the mainstream left and right.
  • Conservative publications and politicians routinely rail against supporters of Antifa, who they say are seeking to shut down peaceful expression of conservative views.

The G-7 and India

The Group of 7:

  • The G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’ includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
  • It does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.
  • Initially, it was formed as an effort by the US and its allies to discuss economic issues.
  • The G-7 forum now discusses several challenges such as oil prices and many pressing issues such as financial crises, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking.
  • Canada joined the group in 1976, and the European Union began attending in 1977.


Expelling Russia:

  • The G-7 was known as the ‘G-8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997.
  • The Group returned to being called G-7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
  • Since his election in 2016, US President has suggested on several occasions that Russia be added again, given what he described as Moscow’s global strategic importance.


Why G7 needs a revival?

  • The rise of India, China, and Brazil over the past few decades have reduced the G-7’s relevance, whose share in global GDP has now fallen to around 40%.
  • Calling the existing Group of Seven (G-7) club a “very outdated group of countries”, US President said that he wanted to include India, Russia, South Korea, and Australia in the group.

THAAD - South Korea-China controversy

  • In South Korea, the THAAD missile defence system is operated by the US army stationed in the country.
  • South Korea is not the only country with the THAAD missile defence system.
  • It has been previously deployed in the UAE, Guam, Israel and Romania.
  • China has issued a statement reiterating its long-standing objections to the presence of the US THAAD missile defence system in South Korea.
  • The US had previously announced that the deployment of this missile defence system was a countermeasure against potential attacks by North Korea, particularly after the country had engaged in testing ballistic missiles.
  • In 2017, matters escalated in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea test-fired a few missiles in the direction of US bases in Japan.
  • Following this incident, the US amended its plans and moved the systems to its army base in Osan, South Korea while the final deployment site was being prepared.
  • These moves by the US and by extension, South Korea, particularly angered China.
  • South Korea also issued a statement saying the number of missiles had not increased but had only been replaced with newer versions.


What is THAAD?

  • THAAD is an acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a transportable, ground-based missile defence system.
  • It is coupled with space-based and ground-based surveillance stations, which transfer data about the incoming missile and informs the THAAD interceptor missile of the threat type classification.
  • THAAD is alarmed about incoming missiles by space-based satellites with infrared sensors.
  • This anti-ballistic missile defence system has been designed and manufactured by the US company Lockheed Martin.


Why China has reservations against THAAD?

  • China’s opposition has little to do with the missiles itself and is more about the system’s inbuilt advanced radar systems that could track China’s actions.
  • The controversy also has much to do with the geopolitics and complex conflicts in East Asia, with the US having a presence in the region particularly through its many military bases in Japan and South Korea.
  • According to some observers of East Asia, China believes the US exerts influence over South Korea and Japan and may interfere with Beijing’s long-term military, diplomatic and economic interests in the region.
  • The US and South Korea have consistently maintained that these missiles are only to counter potential threats by North Korea.

The 5G Club of 10 Democracies - United Kingdom Initiative

The D10 Club:

  • The group aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.
  • The Britain is proposing a ‘D10’ club of democratic partners that groups the G7 nations with Australia and the Asian technology leaders South Korea and India.
  • G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada.
  • It is aimed for channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the 10 member states.

MAY - 2020



International Relations

International Relations:

  • India and its neighborhood – International relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies, their structure and mandates.



  • Challenges to internal security (external state and non-state actors).
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.
  • Basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organised crime with terrorism.


Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics:

  • Comparative Politics: Nature and major approaches; political economy and political sociology perspectives; limitations of the comparative method.
  • State in comparative perspective: Characteristics and changing nature of the State in capitalist and socialist economies, and, advanced industrial and developing societies.
  • Politics of Representation and Participation: Political parties, pressure groups and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.
  • Globalisation: Responses from developed and developing societies.
  • Approaches to the Study of International Relations: Idealist, Realist, Marxist, Functionalist and Systems theory.
  • Key concepts in International Relations: National interest, Security and power; Balance of power and deterrence; Transnational actors and collective security; World capitalist economy and globalisation.
  • Changing International Political Order: Rise of super powers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, arms race and Cold War; nuclear threat; Non-aligned movement: Aims and achievements; Collapse of the Soviet Union; Unipolarity and American hegemony; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.
  • Evolution of the International Economic System: From Bretton woods to WTO; Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); Third World demand for new international economic order; Globalisation of the world economy.
  • United Nations: Envisaged role and actual record; specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; need for UN reforms.
  • Regionalisation of World Politics: EU, ASEAN, APEC, SAARC, NAFTA.
  • Contemporary Global Concerns: Democracy, human rights, environment, gender justice, terrorism, nuclear proliferation.


India and the World:

  • Indian Foreign Policy: Determinants of foreign policy; institutions of policy-making; continuity and change.
  • India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement: Different phases; current role
  • India and South Asia: Regional Co-operation: SAARC – past performance and future prospects. South Asia as a Free Trade Area, India’s “Look East” policy, Impediments to regional co-operation: river water disputes; illegal cross-border migration; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border disputes.
  • India and the Global South: Relations with Africa and Latin America; leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations.
  • India and the Global Centres of Power: USA, EU, Japan, China and Russia.
  • India and the UN System: Role in UN Peace-keeping; demand for Permanent Seat in the SecurityCouncil.
  • India and the Nuclear Question: Changing perceptions and policy.
  • Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy: India’s position on the recent crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Asia, growing relations with US and Israel; vision of a new world order.