Monday, September 28, 2009

Foreign Policy Primer

Much has been made of the success of Rudd’s G20 forum success and in particular, his efforts to enhance the forums authority as the main vehicle for developing global economic policies at the expense of the G8 group. Unlike the latter, the G20 members account for some two-thirds of the world's population and 85 per cent of its economy. Our Prime Minister may see it fit to expand the cooperative multilateral base of existing economic forums, which sits right with his visions of greater interconnectedness and cooperative methodologies in relation to global macroeconomics and more loosely, greater spread of international state power. However, what is the long-term price for shifting the geopolitical-economic power architecture away from the present order? That is, away from the established power circle of which present day America is at the helm. Needless to add, Obama’s present foreign policy directions may add to the coming storm …

With this in mind, I present a thought provoking read taken from the Sublineoblivion blog that speculates on how the first half of this century might pan out.

In conclusion, the geopolitical winds are shifting. There is a gathering storm that will sweep away the current liberal globalized order, and a new reality of econo-political blocs competing for markets, land and resources will take its place. The root cause is the accelerating fiscal and economic collapse of the system’s underwriter, the United States. (The even deeper reason would be that limited oil and energy reserves would be more efficiently used in China to make things than spent on American gas-guzzlers).

However, these changes will appear to observers as an incomprehensible cascade of failings of the international system and spreading chaos: jihadi successes (mounting losses in Afghanistan, continuing terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda’s “franchises”, the possible collapse – or radicalization (Turkey?) – of moderate Muslim governments); state collapses (peak in world food prices, out-of-control insurgencies, falling revenues from energy exports and climatic catastrophes like drought – watch Pakistan, Mexico); the confrontation with Iran (whether or not it ends with a Middle Eastern war, this saga is only beginning to get played out); the Russian resurgence (may be manifested in renewed expansionism in the post-Soviet space – Georgia, Crimea and the Baltics are potential flashpoints – and the race of countries like Germany, Finland, Turkey and / or Japan to reach some kind of accommodation with Russia, contrary to US interests) and the continuing secular ascent of China (due to its gradual nature, this is unlikely to result in any “big events” (although a flareup over Taiwan or the South China Sea is always a possibility) – that said, in the longer run this is going to be one of the most significant geopolitical trends).

By 2019, we will look out upon a new world as different from 1989, as 1944 was from 1914, or 1991 was from 1961. A partially revived American superpower will face a real “peer competitor” in China, though their competition will be restrained by domestic troubles and a shared concern for global stability and the future of industrial civilization. Many of the world’s least developed regions will have begun to fall apart, forsaking the torturing lights of civilization for the comforting darkness of simplistic barbarism. The European Union will have fallen apart under the stresses of its contradictions and its constituent nations will have reverted to their traditional balance-of-power rivalries, while Japan decides it would be better off band wagoning with China. A more insular, nationalist and powerful Russia is a wildcard, either in the throes of demographic and economic stagnation – or enjoying new, unprecedented power accruing from its energy wealth and warming landmass. By then, the clouds will be gathering for an even greater storm – the point sometime in 2030-2050 when the limits to growth make themselves really felt, and industrial civilization falls into its moment of greatest peril. The shifting winds will have become a gale.
While this may be overstated we are gradually reaching a historical crossroad of great implications with the creation of a world leadership that may not by design, be able to handle the new sketchy order of global internationalism. Asian together with the weaker second world states may enjoy some superficial benefits in the short term, but if traditional western powerhouses fall by the wayside, they may not be able to handle the global and regional problems that may ensue. We must hope that the new collective leadership is not so raw as to let this go unrecognized.

Globalization needs to be kept in check with nation based hierarchical rules based on military and economic power. Let us not rush into eroding the established order with haste, as I argued in 2008, "is it realistic to believe that consensus between nations can maintain order through a system in which states voluntarily abide by rules? History alone would dictate a negative response. States cooperate because there is an in-balance of power between them not the reverse...."

Globalization is, for better or worse, a happening phenomenon that is set to expand. In light of this, and hence, this forms the core of my argument, I call on G8 policymakers to expand the currently narrowly focused grand plan to something far broader like, securing the future in accordance with the existing order by taking control of the process via a, “recalibration of interaction through positive leadership”.

Understandably, globalization has raised some alarm bells with many questioning whether the principle drivers of international affairs are no longer nation states but rather, some sort of evolving worldly system. The problem here is that it assumes a global system that somehow manages itself, when in reality; the enforcement of political and economic needs must always be underpinned by rules to resolve differences and conflicts; only powerful nation states have the resources and authorities to manage/enforce agreements, to deal with international threats and inter-state rivalries. Tomorrow’s all-inclusive global strategy must, apart from the aforementioned challenges and promotions of democratic regimes, address the consequences of unbridled dilution of the present geopolitical and economic order.

America and Globalization: Strategy for a New Century
America and Globalization: Strategy for a New Century - Part 2


Anonymous said...

You cannot be so serious as to suggest that the consequences of empowering the G20 can be so bad. ‘Overstated’ is an understatement!

AI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AI said...

Anonymous: Of and on its own, the G20 is inconsequential, the contention focused on the broader hypothesis that such economic/power realignments be not a precursor to more changes, both subtle and bold that collectively, set in motion a chain of events leading to global instability in the longer term ….

Thanks for commenting...