The emerging new world order !
RECENT developments on the international scene- that includes the Corona Virus Pandemic – all point towards a rapidly evolving World Order.
For one thing, the United States’ reign as the sole super power would appear to be all but over.
The question begging for an answer is: will the emerging new World Order be bi-polar or multi-polar? The mystery factor in the fast-emerging scenario is, of course, China! The new leadership in the United States does not appear to be overly happy with the likely shape of things to come, especially in so far as the China factor is concerned.
At this point, a peep over the shoulder may be in order. When the erstwhile Soviet Union had collapsed under its own weight, the United States considered it a great victory. The US Think Tanks started off by spreading their wings, even though they still lacked the knack of flying.
In their new-found and ego-boosting triumph, they chose to ignore even those sidekicks who had made it possible.
They somehow failed to recognize that you forsake your friends and allies at your own peril. They may now be paying the price; and with them some of their strategic allies!
The Russian Federation, the successor to the erstwhile Soviet Union, appeared for a while to be fast emerging from the shadows, thanks to the genius of President Putin.
Under his leadership the Russian Federation was for sometime well on its way to recover at least some of its lost glory.
In fact, one may go so far as to state that the Russian Federation was, at one time, reaching out to re-don the mantle of big power politics.
This dream now appears to be fading away! While, the sole superpower appeared to exhaust its energy and resources in ungainly conflicts and in chasing the mirage of a victory over ‘terror’, the Russian Federation appeared to be moving cautiously towards the coveted goal of regaining its past glory (and power?).
Having fortified itself with generous reserves of oil and gas, the Russian Federation made cautious but definite moves to re- assert its big power status.
The Georgia episode of yore was a blatant reminder that Russia was not to be trifled with. Putin’s calculated move into Georgia’s breakaway province should have been enough to convince the skeptics that Russia could no longer be brushed aside as a has-been.
Slowly, but steadily, the Russian Federation attempted to move towards a position where it did emit for a while clear signals to the powers that be that it was determined to re-capture its glory – if not physically, but at least in drawing some of the remnants of its lost empire into its sphere of influence.
In order to achieve this end, it showed feeble signs of mounting a challenge to the status quo.
At this point, it may be of some relevance to recall that during his visit to Iran after the Caspian States’ Conference, Putin had indirectly issued a “hands off doctrine” to counter the pre-emption doctrine of President George W. Bush. In so doing, Putin not only asserted a new-found confidence but also tentatively tossed Russia’s hat in the ring.
So much for the resurgent ambitions of the Russian Federation under Putin! As things stand, the European Union, post-BREXIT, appears to be too busy in sorting out its own ‘backyard issues’ to spare time for global ambitions. It cannot be written off in the long-term stakes, though, but it is a long shot.
The foregoing said, there is no overlooking the upsurge of the all-round power of China that can upset many an applecart. China is akin to a giant coming into its own after a longish period of slumber.
Let it not be forgotten that China is not just a country, it is the successor to an ancient civilization, one that is heir to an identity all its own.
Through its pragmatic policies over the past decades, China is now in a position to claim the position that rightfully belongs to it.
China may appear to be a country in a hurry but, if looked at closely, every step it takes is meticulously planned and not at all haphazard.
In the twenty-first century – rightfully being touted as the Asian Century – the so-called big powers will ignore China only at their own peril.
The recent developments on the world scene, not the least the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic, have turned the whole system on its head.
The world will need plenty of time to recover. The shape of the ‘New World Order’ that will emerge from the ashes is difficult to predict.
For all one knows, Nature may have other surprises in store for an already destabilized and wonder-struck world.
For one venturing into an assessment of the shape of things to come is full of hazards akin to a mine-field.
While it may be a trifle early to forecast a return to a multi-polar World Order, the portents certainly point in the direction of a bi-polar one.
The sole superpower has enjoyed its hour of glory, though, to be honest, it has not exactly covered itself with glory when it had its opportunity.
The time may be ripe for it to prepare itself for the inevitable transition to a multi-polar, or bi-polar, world.
What is ordained cannot be wished away. On its part, the Third World would be well-advised to keep its fingers crossed. Our own region, already unpredictable, may well find itself right in the eye of the storm.
It would require all the energy and the guile to steer the Ship of State safely through, given the rapids and the choppy seas. That and all the skill and guile our leadership can muster!
— The writer is a former Ambassador and former Assistant Secretary General of OIC.