By Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan
Executive Director, Political Science Association of Armenia
Cover Image Attribute: Map Europe Globe by MabelAmber / Pixabay.com
Cover Image Attribute: Map Europe Globe by MabelAmber / Pixabay.com
The current phase of the international relations can be best characterized by one word – transition. The Post-cold war order is rapidly disappearing creating strategic ambiguity for all actors. The U.S. hegemony is over or close to over despite the fact that militarily Washington will be far from the reach for several decades to come. However, growing national debt, looming crisis in social security and Medicare systems, uncontrolled migration, growing populism, and partisan fighting does not bode well for the future U.S. dominance. Meanwhile, no nation, be it China, Russia, India, Brazil have the necessary resources and will to compete for the new world hegemony.
The absence of world hegemon means that no state has the power to enforce the implementation of key international rules and norms. Regardless how one perceives the international principles – as balanced or biased one – the rule-based order at least provides a minimal level of stability when actors involved in an international stage have a clear understanding what may and may not be done. Since the late 2000s situation has been changed. We are increasingly facing international security architecture when key actors may easily break the norms and rules and eventually this will bring us to the situation when no rules can be based upon. The President Trump decision to denounce globalism creates a situation where so-called “vertical globalism” – Western-led efforts to spread liberal international order all over the world through promotion of democracy and market economy may be transformed into “horizontal globalism” based on regional integration models covering vast territories of Europe and Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Regardless of the fact we perceive this new situation as a multipolar system or a no polar one, it’s clear that the world is facing the unraveling of the global world order with very few clues on what the new emerging order may look like. One pattern is obvious – states are putting more emphasis on the coercion, force and hybrid warfare as a key element of their foreign policy. Meanwhile, the absence of global hegemon triggers the tough and often violent struggle for dominance among regional powers. The key illustration of this pattern is the Middle East. The fight for regional dominance between Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and by less extent Qatar and Egypt is forming the regional geopolitics. Meanwhile, external powers such as the US and Russia are actively using this struggle to advance their national interests supporting a different set of actors and further complicating the battlefield.
The Syrian conflict is the best illustration of this new pattern in geopolitics – powers’ willingness to break the international rules and norms and increasingly resort to force and hybrid warfare methods in pursuing their ambitions. The regional actors are all involved in the conflict creating and supporting nonstate actors within Syria, directly invading some territories like Turkey in the Northwestern part of the county - or as in case of Israel, militarily attacking targets within Syria, and all this without UN Security Council support. The Syrian government appeals to the international community to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity fall on deaf ears – clearly showing the decreasing capabilities of the UN or other international bodies to enforce the international rules and norms.
The conundrum in Iraq where Iran, Turkey and the US are vying for influence triggering ethno-confessional rivalry, the brutal civil/proxy war in Yemen and the collapse of Libya are all patterns of emerging new order in the Middle East, where powers are increasingly prone to use coercion and violence to foster their national interests and no outside power has sufficient capacities to compel its will on all actors.
The Middle East is not the only region suffering the ramifications of the world order transformations. The European part of the Post-Soviet space and Balkans are the arena of Russia – US/NATO/EU struggle for influence. The South and East Asia are facing tough standoff between China, Japan India while the South China Sea is the spot of hot rivalry between China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the absence of global hegemon in the international security architecture and the unraveling of international rule-based order brings about not only renewed struggle for regional hegemony but also fosters the launch of regional integration initiatives based on "horizontal globalization model". Chinese "Belt and Road", Russia led "Eurasian Economic Union", Russia – China supported "Shanghai Cooperation Organization", and EU neighborhood policy is all aimed at developing connections in economic and political levels. Definitely, many of above-mentioned initiatives are fostering the regional influence of lead nation. However, they offer the "softer alternatives" for the hard power struggle among main actors creating more or less attractive incentives for regional medium and small size states to participate.
In recent years some efforts have been made to harmonize the different integration projects currently underway in Eurasia. The first step towards that direction was the Russian President Vladimir Putin idea of the establishment of "Greater Eurasian Partnership" which he first circulated during Saint Petersburg international economic forum in June 2016. The Russian President suggested creating a loose partnership which may include EU, EAEU, China, India, Iran, Pakistan. Given the acute crisis in Russia – EU relations due to Ukraine the idea to launch cooperation between EU and EAEU seems quite interesting. This idea gained some momentum in 2018 due to the President Trump economic protectionism and rejection of multilateralism. The EU officials and especially German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas are actively circulating the idea of EU’s more autonomy form the US in economic, political and military spheres. In late August 2018 French President Macron said EU needs strategic relations with Russia.
Russia is actively pursuing a close partnership with China. The Chinese "Belt and Road" initiative is the biggest economic project in Eurasia. Regardless of the fact that Russia cautiously monitors the growing Chinese influence in Central Asia, where Beijing has outpaced Moscow economically, Russia needs Chinese support in its current struggle with the West. In May 2018 China and the Eurasian Economic Union signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation as a "pragmatic step" to foster cooperation between different integration projects.
Of course, Eurasia is far away from overcoming the contradictions between different key actors. Any launch of cooperation between EU and EAEU is mainly depended on Russia – EU relations which are in sharp decline due to the Ukraine crisis. However, the collapse of the Post-cold war order and the absence of global hegemon facilitate the establishment of region-based world order. Meanwhile, the fracturing of international security architecture creates threats and dangers for all actors. Given the unprecedented impact of digital technologies on all sphere of mankind which makes the time and distance less relevant, the 21st-century world cannot be brought back into the late medieval age with hundreds of small, medium and big actors fighting with each other. In this context, one of the likely scenarios of emerging global order will be the establishment of a few loose global partnerships which will include many integration initiatives within themselves.
The US may lead one of the centers of gravities gathering around itself Mexico, Canada and some states in Central and South America. Brazil may have chances to establish another center based on Mercosur member states or be a strong member of the US-centered partnership. In Eurasia China, Russia and EU will continue to facilitate different integration projects – Belt and Road, EAEU and EU, which may be put under joint “Greater Eurasia” umbrella. Most probably India and Japan will continue their independent player status seeking to foster cooperation with different centers. Towards mid 21st century, the world order will represent the cooperation/competition between few global partnerships which will have lack coherence and will face struggling within, as China, EU, and EAEU may compete within Greater Eurasia. However, the "integration of integration" approach which will create regional based order covering vast territories and numerous states is a better alternative to the deeply fractured world where great and medium powers are fighting each other using small states as proxies and satellites.
About the Author:
National Defense Research University in Armenia holding this position since August 2016 and Executive Director of Political Science Association of Armenia since 2011.
In 2013 he was a Research Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University. His primary research areas are the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East and the US – Russian relations and their implications for the Post-Soviet space. He joined Institute for National Strategic Studies (predecessor of NDRU) in March 2009 as a Research Fellow and was appointed as INSS Deputy Director for research in November 2010. Before this, he was Foreign Policy Advisor of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia. Dr. Poghosyan has also served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences and was an adjunct professor at Yerevan State University and in the European Regional Educational Academy. He is the author of more than 70 Academic papers and op-eds in different leading Armenian and international journals and media platforms. Dr. Poghosyan is a graduate of the U.S. State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars Program on U.S. National Security Policy Making. He holds a Ph.D. in History and is a graduate from the Tavitian Certificate Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Cite this Article:
Cite this Article:
Poghosyan, B. "Emerging Global Order: Implications for the Regional Geopolitics", IndraStra Global Vol. 004, Issue No: 10 (2018) 0020, https://www.indrastra.com/2018/10/Emerging-Global-Order-Implications-for-Regional-Geopolitics-004-10-2018-0020.html | ISSN 2381-3652
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this insight piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IndraStra Global.