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An uneven international system

Mansoor Akbar Kundi

PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s decision a few days back to recognize Israel’s claim over Golan Heights and showing his Administration’s unconditional support for Israeli supremacy in the region reminds me the fact that international structure/system is crudely a struggle for power, wealth and influence. To understand the logic of the system one has to understand the interaction of the actors within the system with states’ political, ideological, economic, regional and even superficial interests, similarities and differences against one another. Actors in international system are classified broadly into nation-states, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Multinational Corporations (MNCs), Individuals, Movements and even incidents of global importance such as World War-I and World War-II, social revolutions or 9/11 like happenings. Except nation-states, the rest are known as non-state actors, nevertheless they have been directly and indirectly under the influence of nation-states. They can serve their interests for power, wealth and influence purposes. For example, Hezbollah is a Movement but serving the ideological interests of Iran Lebanon and around.
Nation-states are the most important actors in international system. Samuel P Huntington (1927-2008) in his masterpiece treatise. “The Clash of Civilizations” says that states are and will remain the dominant entities (actors) in world affairs. His theory of the Clash of Civilizations itself connotes the ideological orientations of the overall power struggle the countries will have to face as challenges and threats mutually. To him, “global politics is multi-polar and multi-civilization”. The Muslim world since 9/11 has been facing the wrath of the civilization differences cult at the hands of America with much instability caused in the Middle East. One of the major causes of the instability was the lack of institutional structure of the concerned states which was largely based on dictatorial and monarchial lines as well as the resources they enjoyed. For example, America invaded Iraq on one of the pleas of the human rights violations while more human rights were found in Myanmar and in other parts of the world.
Nation-States are divided into three categories of being the 1st, 2nd and 3rd World. The 1st world simultaneously under the nomenclature of developed and core states actually rule the world with accumulation of power, wealth and influence which is largely reflected in their decisions image. Out of the 193 UN nation-states membership, the 1st world comprises not more than 25 countries with none from the Muslim World. America is regarded as the number one power as far as the soft and hard power impressions are concerned. The 2nd or developing world stands in between with hardly around 35-40 countries with fewer Muslim countries making its position in the list. Absolute majority of the countries fall in the 3rd or underdeveloped world which though UN has deleted from the list but they are very much part of. I include Pakistan in the list as larger parts of its territory lack basic civic amenities, plunged into long hours load-shedding, and non-accessible by roads.
The Western world headed by America cannot see in large any Muslim country becoming a 1st World as it will change the status scenario in nation-states ranks. America cannot tolerate any Islamic country achieving a good representative system through fair political development due to two major reasons. First, if happens it can lead that particular country towards good governance based on popular decisions. Second, the leadership coming through fair elections and representative process would not be under American whims and pressure —tantamount to lose its interests. The cases of Turkey under Adnan Menderes and Erdogan; Pakistan under Bhutto and Malaysia under Mahatir can be cited and explored as leading examples. America supports undemocratic institutions and forces during democratic periods in many Muslim countries. Also, America cannot afford an Iranian style popular revolution where masses were mobilized against a strong established order that enjoyed American support. America played a similar role in Latin/South America in bloc-politics era.
The non-state actors whose role has been exceeding since the 2nd World War have assumed an important position globally. It is particular in case of the IGOs, NGOs and multilateral corporations. UN being the largest representative body of nation-states tilts in power assumption towards the five permanent members with power of veto. The UN over the years must have become a mirror in which harsh activities of the nation-states, particularly the major powers could be reflected and halted, but unfortunately it has not been. The US which did not exercise its veto power till 1970 has gone astray UN Charter and uses its power blatantly to support Zionism by opposing Palestinians rights. UN has failed to hold plebiscite/Referendum in Kashmir where day to day atrocities of the Indian forces go unnoticed at important platforms. NGOs’ role has exceeded in the underdeveloped world largely due to weak governance and infra-structure. Nevertheless, many of them are playing an important role in the promotion of humanitarian causes. Similarly, MNCs have assumed more important role in the age of globalisation. They represent the ultimate interests of the home country in the ones hosted. MNCs have posed threats to local economies. Majority of the MNCs belongs to core countries and furthers their economic interests. International structure being a chess-board for power, wealth and influence greatly favours major nation-states as core states than the periphery or semi-periphery ones.
— The writer is a former VC and currently Professor in Deptt of Politics & IR in IIUI.