We are passing through a unique period in human history. The aftermath of World War-II saw the emergence of a bi-polar world and with this the introduction of such concepts as the Cold War era; which produced both proxy wars and lessons in the insecurities that this new world order brought with it. Fast-forward a little and we saw one global empire imploding, thereby revealing the immense hubris of those who found themselves alone in ruling the world. Since time immemorial have empires, upon reaching their zenith, begun to wane; as others begin to rise up ready to replace them. However, never has history been witness to an empire waxing even before its soon-to-be predecessor has fully waned. Yet that is exactly what is happening with a China in ascendency and a US in decline. Within a year or so, Beijing is set to replace Washington as the world’s largest importer; which naturally involves its own set of dynamics. In terms of number of goods, China is already the largest exporter. But it is not going to take long for it to overtake the US as the largest exporter when it comes to monies earned. The Middle Kingdom has, very sensibly, focused on economic growth while avoiding military confrontational tendencies. Yet this is not to say that is has ignored military development. As I explained in earlier articles, any country wishing to export hard power must boast a formidable naval force. China has quietly been very busy in that field, as well. In fact, its breakthroughs in some areas of maritime technology are internationally acknowledged as being superior to those of the US. The one constraint on China’s development in terms of both hard and soft (economic) power was the lack of maritime ‘liberty of action’. Meaning that all its ports opened through the South China Seas to the Pacific, a region peppered with American naval bases. Yet China was not to be deterred, taking numerous steps to improve its communication infrastructure. It is said that the US is manoeuvring behind the scenes in Balochistan in a bid to target CPEC, as part of its ongoing China Containment Policy. Further afield, it is the same story in the Ukraine where Washington is ‘striking’ Moscow’s Eurasian Corridor, as part of its Russia Containment Policy. This, too, also hits China, given that the two are close allies At home, Beijing’s overhauling of road and rail infrastructure has been nothing short of amazing; to the extent that high speed trains now connect it to Tibet. Indeed, its rail link to Britain represents a tribute to technological ability. And that is not all. Today, China is all set to establish a rail link to mainland Europe via Iran, Georgia, and Turkey. Nevertheless, without alternate access to the seas, it was destined to await the decline of US before it could look towards the whole world. CPEC has changed all that. In other words, China now finds itself suddenly unshackled from American containment. And Washington is more than mindful of the implications of this. The US has two alternatives. The first is, in fact, what Trump had promised to do while still on the election campaign trail: namely, look inwards, consolidate, cut expenses, and rebuild its strength. Had it adopted this course, while Washington might not have been able to prevent China’s rise — it could still have, like Russia has recently managed to do, regained much of its international standing to lead the world once more into familiar territory; the return to the bi-polar world order. However, this would be a politically non-ambitious move. And as incompetent as the American ‘Deep State’ might be — it has never lost its taste for ambition. Powered by people whom our Foreign Minister has aptly referred to as “defeated generals”, the US has decided on the second feasible option: a “China Containment Policy”. This implies that Washington has accepted the fact that it can no longer compete with Beijing and therefore has chosen to actively hinder and obstruct the latter’s rise to world power status by each and every means available. And, if in doing so, this leads to increased destabilisation and insecurity globally, then so be it. This is the phenomenon we are witnessing today. So far, this has introduced us to the concept of Hybrid Wars; a term coined by the young Russian strategist with a US education under his belt, whom I have mentioned before: Andrew Korybko. He asserts, and, for the record, I happen to agree with him, that there are currently two areas that are in the throes of a so-called hybrid war; and both have been orchestrated at the American behest. Meaning that here in Pakistan, it is the US that is manoeuvring behind the scenes in Balochistan in a bid to target CPEC as part of its ongoing containment policy. Further afield, it is the same story in the Ukraine where Washington is ‘striking’ Moscow’s Eurasian Corridor, as part of its Russia Containment Policy. Incidentally, the latter also hits China, given that the two are close allies. Interestingly, if we begin to use the prism of the China Containment Policy through which to view the growing uncertainty currently taking hold of all regions across the world — we might find some method in the apparent US madness. Be it the Middle East, Central Asia, Iran, and Africa, even the sudden aggressiveness of Modi’s India; seek and ye shall find a connection somewhere. I have been asserting that American policy towards Pakistan is conditional upon peace in Afghanistan. For only if the latter were to become stable would the US be able to access the natural resources of Central Asia and Afghanistan. Only then, would Washington be willing to promote peace and security here in Pakistan. In other words, if Afghanistan remains a veritable quagmire for the foreseeable future — the US will find itself compelled to ensure that insecurity in Pakistan persists; so as to better prevent China from benefiting from the region’s wealth. Nevertheless, it did occur to me that I may have been looking at things through an accidental lens of sorts. After all, if containing China is the driving force of US foreign policy — we are not the only ones in the geo-strategic crosshairs. Meaning that Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and, of course, China, all share borders with Afghanistan. It is said that one of the Middle Kingdom’s demographic weaknesses it its Uighur population in Sinkiang, not least because of this group’s vulnerability to Islamist extremism. Thus does Afghanistan not represent the perfect location from which Muslim extremists can be launched directly into Sinkiang and, indirectly, beyond to the regional neighbourhood? And, if this is so, would it not be in American interests that Afghanistan remain unstable? Yet when we consider the ingress by ISIS into that country — we find that everything suddenly makes sense. The bad news for Pakistan is that if this is, indeed, true — there may be no scope for us to find common ground with the US. I intend to continue viewing the world through this distinct lens next week. The writer is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) Published in Daily Times, November 5th 2017.