By Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan
The United Kingdom (UK) is leaving the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020. This move will not only have tremendous geostrategic implications for the UK and EU but possibly may influence the transformation of the Post-Cold War order.
First of all, for the first time in at least the recent 400 hundred years, the UK is abandoning its status of the "first-tier country" and most probably, will never return to the elite club. Without the UK, the struggle between continental Europe and the Ocean powers (US and UK), may reemerge again. Given the inevitable decline of the political power of Germany after Angela Merkel leaves the office in 2021, France has a chance to regain its position as a leader of continental Europe and transform it into an equal player of the multi-polar world instead of being either junior partner of the US or under the economic clout of China.
French President Emmanuel Macron is actively preparing for that role, but Paris needs to meet some key conditions. Macron should win the Presidential elections of 2022; France should bring Russia back into Europe and the new chancellor of Germany should accept this equilibrium. President Macron has already launched its campaign to normalize relations with Russia. Meanwhile, this configuration creates a window of opportunity for Moscow too. Russia, as a key pillar of continental Europe, will keep its place in “Elite league” while avoiding the perspective of eventually being transformed into China’s junior partner in Beijing’s strategic competition with the US. The key consideration which may bring Russia back to Europe is an objective reality. Europe does not want and has no ability to gradually “consume Russia” by taking her resources and in long term perspective, territories. While China, despite its generally peaceful foreign policy and strict rules of noninterference, objectively will take more and more from Russia serving as Beijing’s junior partner.
Another key element influencing the upcoming geopolitical construction is the US Presidential elections of 2020. If President Trump wins, he will continue his “America first” policy, which means less multilateralism and more emphasis on protectionism and nationalism. In this scenario, at the end of 2024, we possibly may have an elite club of three geostrategic players – the US, continental Europe with Russia and China. The second tier of states will comprise of India, Brazil, and Japan, while the UK and South Korea will continue to function as the junior partners of the US.
However, there are several impediments that may hinder the realization of this scenario. Germany may not agree to abandon its role as an EU leader and create a European triumvirate comprised of Germany, France, and Russia. Moscow may believe that she has sufficient resources to be a global player alone neither joining continental Europe nor becoming China’s junior partner. A democrat president may be elected in 2020 in the US, which could make efforts to gather and lead the “free world” against Russia and China bringing together the US, EU, Japan within a new alliance of democracies. In this scenario, the world order will gradually move towards the de facto bipolarity with the US and China acting as sole global powers.
About the Author:
Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is Founder and Chairman, Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies and also, Executive Director, Political Science Association of Armenia since 2011. He was Vice President for Research – Head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia in August 2016 – February 2019. 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 the Foreign Policy Adviser 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.
His primary research areas are the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East, US – Russian relations and their implications for the region. He is the author of more than 70 Academic papers and OP-EDs in different leading Armenian and international journals. In 2013, Dr. Poghosyan was appointed as a "Distinguished Research Fellow" at the US National Defense University - College of International Security Affairs and also, he is a graduate from the US State Department's Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security policymaking. He holds a Ph.D. in History and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
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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.