Arguably the World is going through unprecedented challenges. Perhaps we are between several world orders or mired into a complete chaos and disorder. Unilateralism by the super powers has become the order of the day. Since 1979, we have witnessed such far reaching developments in international politics with unforeseen consequences felt over the years which are now being reflected in the unbridgeable big power confrontations and deepening trust deficit. Sino-US and US-Russia matrix is turning into the West vs Russia/China combine from the pedestals of UNSC (P3 vs P2) to the geo-political and geo-economic expanse in virtually every geography. Russia-Ukraine war is a symptom of that.
The world has been hit by two Black Swan events whose impact and consequences are yet to be fully assessed. The pandemic and Ukraine-Russia war which Moscow prefers to call ‘Special Operations’. Both will shake the foundations of the so called global order or disorder in transition. Although it has helped generate a war of dependencies between Russia and Europe and Europe and USA – clear outlines that are emerging are converging into a line on the drawing board between the West and the East which may bifurcate or trifurcate the world in unprecedented ways. Decoupling has become the preferred choice in international discourse as poaching on potential partners goes on in the bilateral axis being created.
Interdependence between states is a critically important feature of world politics.
But the hegemonic stability theory would portend Russia, USA and China as States driven by wrong ideas – unilateralism. US with its hoary ideals of democracy and human rights, despite unilateral interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Bosnia and other countries and jumping out of various international agreements, sees itself as a power maintaining international order while Russia and China are seen as challengers and strong adversaries. Now there appears to be no desire to manage the confrontation rather decimation of Russia and Putin and likewise Putin in Ukraine have become an objective like the preferred scheme of Regime Change so blatantly used all over.
Might is right and Jungle Raj is supreme. My way or High way. ‘If you are not toeing my line I will boot you out’, has become their daily discourse. Russia is emerging as a Status Quoist, Revanchist or a ‘Lonely Power’ while ‘Chimerica Syndrome’ is becoming far more accentuated – the narrative one comes across all the time.
A game of narratives and disinformation warfare is predominant. For the international discourse it is becoming increasingly important. Right now the West is winning as they have made themselves a ’Hero out of the Comedian’ and ‘Putin the villain of some consequence’ who can not be allowed to exist or continue, if the slip of tongue of President Biden is to be believed. Balance of power, brute or AI driven with tech superiority and economic heft is also fast changing.
We witnessed USA weaponizing financial instruments and SWIFT against Russia, let alone the most expansive sanctions regime. This was responded to by the Russians through weaponization of energy/fuel, food and fertilizers (3F syndrome) that caused tremendous problems for the world especially the Global South who suffered for no rhyme of reason. De-dollarization and supremacy of the green backs is at stake as countries are shifting to national currencies in trade and transactions which will be the real hall mark of the Cold War 2.0.
Germany and Japan are abdicating their self-imposed isolation and NATO just expanded to include Finland. With ultra rightists and right wingers in Europe, future is uncertain and cause of concern with regard to migration and mobility. Shall we witness the same WW2 kind of scenario remains to be seen. Disarmament having been dumped by both sides and nuclear threat no more a paper tiger, the WW3 may not be far from the horizon. It’s a calamitous situation which super powers want to keep under threshold but do not have the means or desire to do so.
Credibility of all three major powers is at the lowest. Each one talks of multilateralism and rule of for which they have set their arbitrary standards and implementation protocols. Disputes over the principles of international behaviour, interpretation of international law and lack of implementation of ICJ judgments or UNSC resolutions, questions of the world order and rules combined with ideational agendas of major powers have accelerated the erosion of the liberal order for which even the hyper power is equally responsible.
US is not a signatory to UNCLOS or ICC and has defied the ICJ judgements and walked out of Treaties more than the other.Yet it acts as spokesman and, judge and jury over others’ actions under these very provisions, reprehensible or otherwise. Others like Russia and China are India, the genuine voice of the Global South, with its philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ – The world is one family or her G20 motto – One Family, One World and One Future – provides it the requisite moral authority to propagate and side with the sensible approaches of dialogue, diplomacy, peace and humanitarian concerns of the larger masses and equitable access and distribution of global goods and commons.
More and more countries are looking to exercise strategic autonomy which India has always championed. If the Cold War 2.0 ensues, India has the potential to champion the cause of Nations for Strategic Autonomy (NSA) and be a third pole for sanity.
First published in The Edition on April 8, 2023 as WHITHER IS THE WORLD GOING?
Read more about the author: India’s G20 Presidency: Promoting Oneness and Prosperity