By: Jawad Hussain Malik
Nothing is permanent and constant in this universe except change which, undoubtedly, is inevitable and unstoppable. Same holds true for the modern geopolitical world as it is unremittingly changing. And, a big change is in the offing now. Not so long ago, the United States of America (USA) was the sole kingmaker in the world and for rulers of many countries, it was like a godfather. The status quo, which was maintained by US by hook or by crook, gave birth to a unipolar world — in 1964, Kenneth Waltz maintained that the United States is the only “pole” to possess global interests. A world with functional US-driven capitalism, US policies determining global peace, US navy having control over global sea lines of communication, etc. was the true manifestation of unipolarity.
However, now the global scenario has turned altogether different. Unipolarity, which the US had been relishing and enjoying since long, is nearing its collapse especially after the emergence and resurgence of new power centres from Pacific to Atlantic.
At this point in history, keeping the world unipolar is in fact a herculean task as it entails fulfilling a host of international commitments, obligations and pledges. Maintaining unipolarity by a hegemon is an aspiration — a dream actually — and a feeling every powerful state has. In modern times, the US has done everything it could to maintain its hegemony over a unipolar world.
Washington assumed the role of a global supervisor or a global policeman, dictating the terms of conduct of many of the world’s countries. The rich Global North and the poor Global South remain kneeled; ready to be dictated by their master i.e. the US, with all zest and zeal. Former US President Richard Nixon writes in his book “In the Arena: A Memoir of Victory, Defeat and Renewal” that the superpower should have economic stability, military might, cultural appeal and sophisticated technology for becoming a global power. Interestingly, the US has all the prescribed ingredients making its authority unquestioned and strength unchallenged anywhere.
“Powerful states can maintain themselves only by crime, little states are virtuous only by weakness,” opines Mikhail Bakunin.
The theory of unipolar world is, however, nearing its end with each passing day. The unipolarity imposed by America is no more. Its overt unsuccessful military adventures in small states like Vietnam, landlocked Afghanistan, oil-rich Iraq, and resourceful Libya, have proved strategic miscalculations at the end of the day. Meanwhile, its proliferation of political anarchy and spying on Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Germany and elsewhere caused widespread concern, fuelling hatred against American designs. But the world is rapidly changing, new power centres are coming to fore with dynamic financial markets and military prowess.
Alliances and counter-alliances are designed, formed and executed to turn unipolar world into a multipolar one. Pride and prejudice is sparking off allies and adversaries for convergence or divergence of interests. The proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is proving true. Multinational alignments like BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are increasingly challenging the financial dominance of the US. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is also playing pivotal role in Southeast Asia, dealing a severe blow to US hegemony despite the fact that the US is still fomenting confrontation between China and neighbouring countries like Japan, Philippines, etc., over the South China Sea issue. Gulf Cooperation Council is also better managing — in fact, abandoning — its overwhelming dependence on US military support in the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Hence, it is obvious that with the US no more reigning supreme in a unipolar world order, states are now more conscious and cognizant of the balance of power for maintaining their sovereignty and stability by securing their geostrategic leverage.
Following points illustrate the waning supremacy of the US over the world:
- Revocation of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement by Donald Trump (a major setback for 12 Pacific Rim states as it would further strengthen Chinese position on global financial radar).
- Halting Muslim immigrants from different Muslim States through executive orders.
- Espionage programme for surveillance of allies and adversaries simultaneously. The Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the incumbent German Chancellor Angela Markel criticized this policy.
- Trump’s proposed romanticism with Russia causing and provoking anxiety in Brussels.
- European Union’s criticism on Trump for favouring Brexit and advising others to follow the suit.
- Constant confrontation with China over “One China Policy” and South China Sea issue along with US naval deployment in the Pacific to threaten Chinese sea lines of communications.
- Provision of a virtual NOC to India for its admission into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) without ratifying the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Assad regime is consolidating its position in Syria with the help of Russian military as US-sponsored anti-Assad opposition alliance is being crushed.
- Ankara’s parting of ways with Washington over the latter’s alleged support to Fethullah Gülen, who is allegedly behind the failed Turkish coup.
- Trump’s comments on NATO describing it as an obsolete military alliance.
In the end, it can be assertively said that the US is no more the only hemispheric great power. Its exploitative policies, espionage programmes, military (mis)adventures, and oppressive fiscal policies have been continuously resented across the globe. Meanwhile, China has started stepping forward by launching its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Russia is flexing its muscles wherever it finds vacuum. Europe is at dismay after Brexit and Washington’s unending indifference toward Brussels. Civil wars are happening so often that geopolitical tectonic plates are readjusting; turning a unipolar world into a multipolar one.