DOIU – Growing concerns

Growing concernsThe world rejoiced at the end of the Cold War, with the expectation that totalitarian tendencies would give way to liberal democratic values and practices. Indeed, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, China chose to take part in the global economic system and play by its rules.

Many authoritarian countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America adopted democratic politics. The EU emerged as an alliance of democratic countries.

Many expected that globalization of the market economy and interdependence of nations would lead to more consensual trends and create similar legal and political institutions. This would, in turn, prevent deadly conflicts caused by polarization through contending superpowers.

The next step would be making existing international organizations more functional or creating similar multilateral bodies to regulate relations between nation states.Although the nuclear capacity of several nations remained a concern, the old superpower rivalry that could destroy the world was an outcome that seemed less likely.

So the source of international security concern was not conflict among strong states but rather failing states.This rather optimistic view needs a little alteration today.

A new kind of geostrategic competition between key global actors has arisen.Could this competition, which is sure to affect the global economy, politics and social change, energize dormant fault lines between certain nations?The question is relevant, considering souring tension between Russia and the West.

Western, and especially US perception (or better, expectation), of a andldquofree and united Europeandrdquo collapsed when Ukraine faltered and separatist movements destabilized the country. Two fundamentally opposing worliews came head to head: One represented by the US, the other by Russia This conflict may end up reinitiating the old practice of creating andldquospheres of influence.

andrdquoRussiaand#39s annexation of Crimea and policies to divide Ukraine have led to economic sanctions imposed by the West. In return, Russia turned to Asia with the aim of mobilizing a Eurasian Union as a counterweight to the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putinand#39s recent visit to Turkey in order to initiate a new pipeline through this country instead of the one further north that was confounded by Western economic sanctions is part of this strategy.It is obvious that Russia wants to regain its prominent place as a determining superpower during the Cold War However, this andldquolone rangerandrdquo attitude will not be tolerated by the West and Western countries will be reluctant to develop economic interdependence with RussiaAnother concern for nations, especially in the West, is the rise of China with dubious repercussions for the global political order This concern emanates from uncertainty over what role China might play on the global stage.

Existing clues are not that enlightening, as this countryand#39s relationship with Japan is poisoned with mistrust, maritime disputes and nationalismAny political conflict is bad for the global economy, especially among major economic powers. Chinaand#39s future political economic choices will have an effect on global stability and few are sure how China will fare, probably including the Chinese government.

The third factor that is a source of concern for world peace and stability is the Middle East, where nation states are disintegrating and existing artificial nations are fragmenting into tribes and sects.The military intrusion of the US in Iraq has brought neither unity nor democracy.

Instead it has boosted the position of Iran and scared the Sunni populations, who provided most of the manpower for an insurgency against Western influence in the Middle East, and its local allies. One, and presently the most powerful insurgent Sunni group is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In conclusion, the international system affords a series of new conflicts and multidimensional competition for the new year Will this trend lead to de-globalization with rising nationalism and state and societal failure? Will growing disbelief in multilateralism lead to political tribalism? Maybe so! But mankind cannot afford to go back. More international cooperation is needed and more effort should be made to resolve conflicts.

Otherwise, growing geostrategic competition and selfish national ambitions may be more dangerous than before, given the level of technology on hand.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman