Ms Maria Mansab is an MPhil Scholar at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid i Azam University Islamabad. She is currently working as an intern at the Institute of Regional Studies.
Yevgeny Primakovis is usually associated with the concept of multipolarity in Russia. Indeed, the former Russian Federation Minister of Foreign Affairs identified the move to a multipolar world as a fundamental trend in contemporary international life as early as 1996. Primakov proposed a trilateral cooperation plan between Russia, China, and India (RIC) as a practical instrument for strengthening global multipolarity during his visit to New Delhi as Prime Minister in late 1998.
Sergey Lavrov has also emphasized Primakov’s exceptional contribution to the development of the concept of a multipolar world. Western international relations experts are unlikely to agree that Russian academics and politicians should be prioritized. They generally date the birth of the idea of multipolarity to the mid-1970s.
Chinese historians, for their part, can claim their version of multipolarity which arose in the early 1990s and can be traced back to Mao Zedong’s theoretical works. The world was projected to evolve from unipolar to multipolar via a “hybrid” global political framework that contains characteristics of both the previous and future world systems, according to China.
Regardless of how we define the origins of multipolarity as a concept and who we credit as its forefather, the concept is certainly a 20th-century intellectual product. It would appear that in the decades since it was proposed, multipolarity should have progressed from a hypothesis to a full-fledged theory
Unipolar Departure and Multipolarity: America’s Gradual Decline
Pax Americana was built by the United States in the postwar era by exploiting its hegemonic position. The defeat of unipolarity by rising powers is inextricably linked to America’s relative fall: new major powers, particularly China, are the most visible proof of the United States’ decline. The growth of China’s emerging geopolitical tendencies in the Middle East, the Saudi-Iran reconciliation, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the creation of a new Asian bloc signifies the end of unipolarity.
Despite US military dominance, the advent of new major powers such as China, along with US financial and monetary limits, implies that the United States’ military superiority will be challenged during the next decade or two. The loss of American power entails the culmination of US supremacy in world affairs and the shift to a new world power constellation. The Pax Americana will perish in the early twenty-first century unless it is supported by ”hard” power (military and economic).
The Declinist and the American Decline Debate
America has long felt an impending decline, but this isn’t the first time. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy sparked an intense but fleeting debate in the 1980s about whether America’s dominance was in relative decline.
Kennedy was not alone in saying that the United States was witnessing a comparative decrease in economic dominance. Chace, Calleo, Gilpin, and Huntington were among the other renowned scholars who made this case. They pointed to internal and economic factors at work that, over time, would cause American economic dominance to fall relative to other countries and generate a modification in the international circulation of influence.
Those same economic decline drivers identified by the declinists in the 1980s appear prescient when read today because they remain at the center of the debate: chronic deficits in federal budgets and rising national debt; excessive consumption and insufficient savings; and deindustrialization.
Civilizational Analysis and The Multipolar World Order
Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory claims that in a post-Cold War age, cultural and theological differences would be the prime cause of conflict. Multipolarity and the Clash of Civilizations idea are related in that a multipolar world may enhance the risk of confrontations between different civilizations.
As multiple governments or entities compete for power and influence in a multipolar system, they may identify with different cultural or religious groups, escalating existing cultural and religious tensions and increasing the likelihood of violence.
It is crucial to stress, however, that not all wars in a multipolar world would be motivated by cultural or religious differences. A range of factors, including economic, political, and strategic concerns, will influence the connections between different governments and actors.
Even though “an emerging Sino-American bipolarity is increasingly structuring the world system,” the world structure is more complex politically. The EU, which “carries a strong economic weight but is a political pole in the making,” is struggling “to close the gap between economic power and geopolitical influence.” Conflicts between the Western and Islamic worlds, such as the ongoing struggle in the Middle East between the United States and various Islamic terrorist groups. China and the West, particularly the United States, have clashed on topics such as trade, technology, and human rights.
According to Parag Khana’s “The Future is Asian,” in the nineteenth century, the world became Europeanized; it was Americanized in the 20th century; and Asianization is on the rise in the twenty-first century. Before European colonialism and American hegemony, Asia was swiftly returning to centuries-old patterns of commerce, military, and cultural interaction.
Asians will control their destiny, and as they push their group interests globally, they will also influence ours. The current state of world politics revolves around Asia’s geostrategic, geopolitical, and geoeconomic relevance.
Russia-Ukraine War and the Future World Order
We are in uncharted territory, with the West swiftly implementing enormous sanctions on Russia and the real risk of nuclear war. The scenarios above depict the numerous ways geopolitics could depend on how the war in Ukraine develops. However, compared to before hostilities began, the geopolitical chess pieces are already situated differently on the board.
The EU is currently debating whether and how quickly it should reduce its existing reliance on Russian resources, particularly oil and gas. Today, defense spending and defense investment among the thirty allies are likely to increase against Russia, even though the US is still experiencing an economic slowdown at home.
The Ukraine situation has presented the US with a complex brew of issues. China remains the United States’ major adversary, and few expect Beijing to curb its goals significantly even if Russia emerges from this crisis weaker.
Internal Factors of American Waning: Debt, Deficits, and America’s Indeterminate Future
United States’ rising economic and budgetary problems, two facets of the United States’ national problems deserve specific attention: the country’s spiraling general debt and growing uncertainties about the dollar’s forthcoming status as the global cost-cutting reserve money. The US will likely be forced to make strategic cuts and start winding down its global military commitments between now and 2025 as a result of the impending debt and dollar crises.
The sources of the impending US economic catastrophe are multifaceted. An excellent beginning point for comprehension is the idea of Arnold Wolfers, a late political scientist, who argued that contemporary major powers must be both welfare and national security states. States must deliver both firearms (the armed competencies required to protect and advance their outside comforts) and butter (affluence and the provision of critical public goods such as education, health care, and pensions).
The significance of the dollar as a standby currency is perilous to America’s geopolitical supremacy. If the dollar drops its reserve currency status, US dominance will become unreasonable. With defense spending in the United States at an all-time high, domestic political pressure to drastically slash defense spending is already at an all-time high.
Defense cuts will force the United States to reduce its overseas military commitments during the next ten to fifteen years. This will have two effects. First, as the US cuts defense spending, China (and other emerging superpowers) will be able to narrow the US military advantage. Additionally, the US’s capability to function as a regional stabilizer and defender of the worldwide commons would deteriorate. In this regard, America’s economic problems and the indefinite future of the dollar are significant causes of American decay.
The External Factors of American Decline: The Rise of New Great Powers
The world is entering a time of “vertical globalization,” in which novel geopolitical coalitions are growing all over the world. As the world fragments into different clusters, these new unions — both official (i.e., associations) and casual (i.e., trade corridors)—have the potential to change everything from supply chains to sustainability.
As countries throughout the world prepare to switch to rechargeable automobiles, a new geopolitical bloc in Latin America is growing that might “call the shots” for everyone from China to Tesla. Mexico, which earlier this year nationalized its lithium business, is considering a new “lithium alliance,” that would unite the nation with Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and the four nations that control the majority of the world’s lithium as they work to control the production and trading of a resource that is swiftly turning into one of the most crucial commodities in the entire globe.
To create non-Chinese microchip supply chains and impede Beijing’s technological advancement, the US has proposed “Chip 4,” a semiconductor alliance with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The cooperation is being promoted as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest chipmaker, defies US sanctions by announcing a cutting-edge bitcoin mining chip, and while new extremist ideologies appear in Chinese society, such as taxing cellphones sold in the nation 400% more if they have foreign chips rather than Chinese chips.
As part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has been building the “Northern Corridor” in Central Asia, a route that connects Asia and Europe via Russia and Belarus, while Kazakhstan wants to restructure the flow of physical and digital trade across Eurasia. However, Kazakhstan has suggested a different “Middle Corridor” as part of the BRI that would connect Asia and Europe via Turkey because the conflict in Ukraine has made this route unstable.
Of course, this creates a new dilemma for the United States, which wants Europe to break away from Russia but could end up driving more European companies into China’s grasp. Africa is becoming more well-known while everyone is focused on the West or Asia. The third Africa Integration Day, which focused on African integration and de-globalization, was recently held by the African Union (AU).
The United States’ withdrawal from the Middle East has forced Arab states to seek new partnerships to decrease their vulnerabilities in a tumultuous globe. The government also expects that the latest peace treaty will persuade the current US administration to relaunch the nuclear deal as soon as possible. The alliance of two major regional powers, one of which is a bitter adversary, undermines and threatens Israel’s security and existence.
The Palestinian issue is experiencing a tremendous comeback at the moment, and this will have a significant impact on Arab society as well as the mentalities of Arab leaders. For years, a proxy war has raged in various Middle Eastern countries between the two major Shia and Sunni Muslim forces. The Saudi-Iran agreement paves the stage for the de-escalation of the proxy war.
De-Dollarization: Peace Deal a Setback to US and Win-Win Situation for China
The Iran-Saudi agreement may pave the way for the expanded use of the yuan, with oil transactions handled in yuan rather than the US dollar, which has long been the standard currency used in energy transactions. In light of US sanctions against Russia, China just reached an agreement with Iraq, and other countries are considering similar options.
However, as the accord progresses, the dependence on US military hardware will diminish. Both countries have also applied to join the BRICS organization and promote local currency transactions. Importantly, this will be a Eurasia-integrated Saudi Arabia, so both of these developments will occur concurrently, hastening the decline of the US dollar.
As military purchases are made in dollars, this action immediately aids in the de-dollarization of defense. De-dollarization will limit Middle Eastern countries’ assertiveness in the global economy and their reliance on the United States. China’s role in mediating a reconciliation between these two longstanding Middle Eastern foes has important geopolitical and symbolic implications.
Beijing must keep the region’s oil flowing freely from a strategic standpoint, and the symbolic component is vital. The motivation is the goal of establishing an alternative to the US-led global order, which China views as a more multilateral approach to international security. With the United States’ influence in the Middle East and around the world dwindling, states will increasingly seek peace treaties and dialogues with China and Russia.
Through all of these evolving new alliances, the globe is rapidly shifting away from a “one group for all” approach. The old epoch of globalization is coming to an end, and the new-fangled groupings and corridors that are forming will only further fracture the world, causing major surprises for governments and corporations alike.
For one thing, many of the innovative exclusive coalitions formed by the United States no longer include America’s old friends, such as Canada, France, or Germany. Rather, alongside the United Kingdom, the United States is doubling down on the Indo-Pacific, posing a conundrum for its old allies in Europe and the Middle East.
For decades, the international economy has been uncluttered and reachable, but a new rearrangement is occurring, dividing the world along new fault lines. Many of these fault lines are conceptual, which represents a significant reversal from previous decades when ideology looked to be vanishing.
Correspondingly important, it is apparent that the choices made by these new alliances will be felt not only by countries or corporations but also by regular people. Shortly, various blocs will vie for global control, and these blocs will have to cohabit while finding imaginative methods to attract countries and industries into their camp.
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