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World Order: Unipolar to Multipolar

By Irshad Ali Sodhar (FSP)


Outline
1. Introduction
2. Brief history of World Order
. United States Uni-polar Status
!. Determinants of World Order
a) Economic strength
") Military power
#) International political clout
d) Ideology appeal
$. he !aradigm shift
%. "atalyst factors#
a) Energy resources
") Ira$ war
#) %inancial crisis
d) &lo'alisation
&. %uture scenario- Multipolar World
'. Would the multipolarity 'e 'eneficial to world(
(. "onclusion
)istory has witnessed cycles of rise and fall of ci*ilisations+ empires and regional as
well as glo'al powers, In past+ military power was the only decisi*e factor in -'alance
of power. among nations, Its strength ensured their e/pansion and influence while
its wea0ness precipitated their fall and disintegration, hough+ it is still an important
element+ many other factors li0e economy+ ideology+ political sta'ility+ statesmanship
and diplomacy ha*e played su'stantial role in determining the status of a country
among the comity of nations in this glo'alisation world,
he World Order has 'een more dynamic due to the unprecedented de*elopments in
international affairs in the last century-ranging from multipolar+ 'ipolar and unipolar,
he US has en1oyed unilateral and unparalleled status in the international affairs, But
as history repeats itself+ the might of 2merican power is *isi'ly diminishing due to
neoconser*ati*e and imperialistic policies+ and new centres of power are emerging to
shape the -multipolar world order.,
3aturally+ whene*er any ma1or power or state has shown its am'ition to con$uer the
world and set up hegemonic empire+ it has created resistance from other forces or
alliance of forces, his clash of power has 'een the characteristics of all the periods+
though4 the 56th century is significantly an e/ample of unprecedented struggle
'etween the countries to ac$uire world supremacy, In the multipolar world+ the
conflict 'etween European countries led to the World War-I, ill then United States of
2merica followed isolationist policies in international realm, During first three years
of war+ Washington remained out of war and then declared war on &ermany on 2pril
7+ 898:, he success in war esta'lished an international foothold for the US,
his deadliest war of history came to an end with of the deadliest weapons ;nuclear
'om's<+ which ushered in a new era of nuclear competition, 2s the military strength
of 'oth the US and the USS= ;former< had played significant role in defeating the
-a/is.+ they esta'lished their enormous influence in the world affairs, he resulting
conflict of interest and ideology 'etween the US and the USS= shaped -Bipolar World
Order., In the aftermath of World War-II+ United 3ations Organisation ;U3O< was
created to maintain peace, )owe*er+ this forum was also una'le to diffuse the
tension 'etween the US and the former USS= which mar0ed the second half of the
56th century, he period is 0nown as the "old War,
E*entually+ "old War ended with the disintegration of the USS= and emergence of
the US as sole super power of the world> economically+ militarily and politically, he
then president of the US Bush coined the term -3ew World Order.+ which was
significantly -Unipolar., he US has en1oyed a prominent status and role since then4
its economy grew with tremendous pace+ its military strength has 'een unmatched+
its political influence in the international affairs has 'een uncontested+ and its
ideology of democratic principle earned its world leadership,
Simply+ the US holds supremacy in e*ery element of glo'al eminence, =ichard 3i/on+
the e/-president of the US+ in his 'oo0 -In the 2rena.+ has descri'ed ingredients of
glo'al political clout as# economic power+ military forces+ ideological appeal+ domestic
political cohesion+ s0ill in statecraft and commonality of interest with other ma1or
powers, In the light of these ingredients the US still en1oys upper hand o*er other
countries of the world, Some of these are enumerated here,
he US also possesses a strongest military in the world with 8,? million acti*e
personnel force, Its com'at force consists of the largest num'er of carrier ships+
fastest fighter planes with precision guided missiles and 'om's, It has successfully
tested anti-'allistic missile shield capacity,
More importantly+ the US has led the world ideologically- for the purpose of
democratic principles, It was this ideological perception on the 'asis of which @eague
of 3ations after the World War-I and the United 3ations after the World War-II were
created,
Moreo*er+ it has maintained commonalty of interest with other ma1or powers,
)owe*er+ it has not 'een a'le to ac$uire a'solute power due to increasing
competition from other ma1or powers+ particularly emergence of "hina+ resurgence
of =ussia+ and union of European countries glo'ally and Iran+ AeneBuela regionally,
-he scope of 2mericas glo'al hegemony is admittedly great 'ut its depth is shallow+
limited 'y 'oth domestic and e/ternal restraints,. Says BirBins0i+ the former US
3ational Security 2d*isor,
he US has posed and acted as a most powerful state in the last two decades+ 'ut
the shallowness of its power, Other powers ha*e challenged the hegemony of the US
in the international affairs, hough+ no any power has indi*idually surpassed the US
in any of the elements of 'alance of power+ they are poised to do in the near future+
gi*en the changing paradigm,
Economically+ the US is still the largest economy of the world 'ut closely followed 'y
Capan and "hina, he per capita income of Capan is higher than that of the US, "hina
has a *ery growing economy with sustained growth rate of o*er nine per cent for the
last one and a half decades, he US faces trade deficit of DE66 'illon while "hina has
trade surplus of D8F6 'illion a year, EUs collecti*e &D! is now greater than that of
the US, Since the launch of Euro currency in 8999+ dollar had 'een losing its *alue
against it constantly, Economy of =ussia has 'een 'loating its since 5666 and its &D!
has 'een tripled, he rising oil and gas prices ha*e added enormous impetus in
=ussian economy, "ommenting on the challenges to unipolarity of the US+ =ichard 3,
)ass+ a scholar at US "ouncil for %oreign 2ffairs+ wrote in -%oreign 2ffairs MagaBine.#
-2lthough US &D! accounts for o*er 5F per cent of the world total+ this percentage
is sure to decline o*er time gi*en actual and pro1ected differential 'etween US
growth rate and those of 2sian giants.,
Militarily+ US military force is said to 'e the strongest in the world 'ut its superiority
is not assuredly mar0ed in contrast to the military forces capa'ilities of other ma1or
powers li0e =ussia+ "hina+ %rance+ &ermany or if the capa'ility of communist
countries is com'ined on the one hand and that of the EU is com'ined on other
hand, 2lmost all the ma1or powers are nuclear states, =ussia claims to ha*e
anti'allistic missile capa'ility successfully de*eloped and tested during the "old War4
"hina has tested a direct Ganti-satellite missile and Gcarrier cruse 0iller, Moreo*er+ in
the current scenario militarilism and terrorism ha*e undermined the strength of $uite
larger armies, he 9H88 attac0s showed how a small in*estment 'y terrorists could
cause e/traordinary le*el of damage,
!olitically+ the influence of the US and its unilateral posture has 'een seriously
chec0ed, his is manifested from nuclear im'roglio with 3orth Iorea and Iran, "hina
pro*ed to 'e the 'est a'le to influence !yongyang, Iran has faced four sets of
sanctions 'y the U3S" on the insistence of the US 'ut does not seem to 'e ready to
compromise its stance, he degree of sanctions was significantly softened due to the
stand of =ussia and "hina, -Washingtons a'ility to pressure ehran has 'een
strengthened 'y the participation of se*eral Western European countries and
wea0ened 'y the reluctance of "hina and =ussia to sanction Iran.+ says =ichard 3,
)ass,
Meanwhile+ writ of the US has 'een significantly challenged 'y AeneBuela in @atin
2merica+ which is supported 'y 2rgentina and BraBil, While challenging the US
authority+ AeneBuela is de*eloping close relations with =ussia and "hina, =ussian
!resident Dimitry Med*ede* *isited "aracas in mid 566E and signed a nuclear deal
with his counterpart )ugo "ha*eB, heir military cooperation is also strengthening
after this result, In South 2sia+ India is emerging as a glo'al power due to its ro'ust
economic growth and large population of o*er 8 'illion,
Ideologically+ US had prominence due to its ideological appeal 'ut the practical
approach to the democratic cause has 'een contrary to the ideology, Washingtons
dealing with other countries has 'een influenced 'y its economic and hegemonic
interests rather than democratic principles and 1ustice, he US has 'een supporti*e
to dictatorships and 0ingdoms+ while it has 'een calling others for democracy, he
factor which has most stigmatised 2mericas reputation is its policy in the Middle East
where it has 'een 'iased, It calls Israels Gstate terrorism as Gright of self-defense+
while it terms the legitimate resistance of !alestinians as Gterrorism,
hough+ emergence of new powers was natural+ the status of the US could remain
unchallenged+ had Washington transformed its attitude and policies from a
unilateralist to multilateralist approach, But the unilateral and un1ustified policies of
the US on se*eral accounts from Ira$ war to climate change crises ha*e only
un*eiled fissures in its power structure, he most contro*ersial issues+ which ha*e
placed the US at the opposite pole from rest of the world+ are energy crises+ Ira$
war+ climate change+ financial crises and glo'alisation, hese factors ha*e rather
pro*ed catalyst in the shift from unipolar to the multipolar world,
Energy resources are *ital element in foreign policy formulation+ particularly in
contemporary scenario of energy crises, he US energy policy is a dri*ing force
'ehind the end of unipolarity, Since there is increase in demand of oil+ it has two-fold
effects on geopolitical front, %irst4 the increase in demand raised the world oil prices
from 1ust o*er D56 a 'arrel to o*er D8F6 a 'arrel in less than a decade until the
financial crisis plunged the oil prices, his increase in oil cost resulted in enormous
transfer of wealth and le*erage to energy rich countries, Secondly in order to secure
energy supply+ all the ma1or powers ha*e common interest in the energy rich
countries, his competition has resulted in confrontational politics on the
international stage, his is the energy demand which led the US to war in Ira$,
he Ira$ war has significantly contri'uted to the dilution of the US power in the
world, It has pro*ed to 'e e/pensi*e in terms of almost all elements of power and in
human terms, )istorian !aul Iennedy had outlined in his 'oo0 GImperial O*erstretch
that the US would e*entually decline 'y o*erreaching 1ust as other powers had in the
past, he war has cost 2merica deaths of more than ?+F66 troops and o*er D:66
'illion as loss, =esultantly+ the US fiscal position has declined from surplus of D866
'illion in 5666 to a deficit of D:66 'illion in 566:, his also manifests that
Washington cannot fight anymore war unilaterally,
On the diplomatic front+ the US could not o'tain appro*al from the United 3ations
Security "ouncil ;U3S"< for going into war in Ira$, he issue of pre-empti*e war
di*ided the US and the UI from their European partners J %rance and &ermany J
and other glo'al powers J =ussia and "hina,
he financial crisis of 566E hit the 'ac0'one of the US economy whereas =ussian+
"hinese and other 2sian economies ha*e displayed $uite sta'ility, he crisis
damaged not only its economy 'ut image as well, -he financial crisis is causing
ma1or damage to US image as the sta'le anchor of the world economy+ and
2merican leadership+ as the dominant financial superpower with free and inno*ati*e
mar0ets+ is in $uestion.+ says Keongseop =hee+ of Broo0ings institution, In a short+
the financial crisis has defined the economic multipolarity of the world,
Besides+ the glo'alisation has transformed the world into an interdependent
multipolar world, 3ation States ha*e 'een losing their monopoly on power and are
'eing challenged 'y regional and glo'al organisations+ and non-go*ernmental
organisations ;3&Os< and corporations, &lo'alisation has strengthened ties and
connection in economy+ politics+ science and technology+ culture and society around
the world, It is the impact of glo'alisation and le*erage of en*ironmental 3&Os that
8E7 countries though reluctantly signed the Iyoto !rotocol+ "openhagen 2ccord and
now the G"ancun 2greements on climate change,
2'o*e issues ha*e reflected upon a point that no country can independently address
such glo'al issues li0e climate change+ terrorism+ proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction+ economic crisis and a'o*e all the world peace and security, It has 'een
pro*ed that unilateral and hegemonic efforts ha*e 'een failed to change the
o'1ecti*e law of world politics+ rather+ they ha*e aroused resistance across the
world,
)ence it is 'ecoming e*ident that the age of Gunipolarity is Gdissipating and the
world is Gmo*ing towards natural Gmultipolarity, In other words+ there emerged
multipowers or centres power, )owe*er+ multipolarity is not an immediate reality the
rather it is de*eloping trend, 2s the emerging powers are strengthening and their
inter-dependence increasing+ world is 'eing pushed towards multipolarity,
In the future multipolar world order+ power would not rest with a few ma1or countries
'ut with se*eral countries, Each ha*ing its specific prominence will ha*e asserti*e
say in the world affairs, Besides the US+ Capan+ "hina+ EU and India would ha*e
economic strength, Iran+ Saudi 2ra'ia+ AeneBuela+ mem'ers of the 2frican Union and
BraBil would ha*e le*erage due to their *ast energy resources, =ussia would ha*e
'oth ad*antages, Some countries would ha*e importance due to their geostrategic
location li0e !a0istan+ "entral 2sian States+ U0raine+ and ur0ey as these countries
are located on the energy routes through which energy resources will 'e routed to
rest of the world, Besides+ the international organisations li0e U3O+ World Ban0+ IM%4
regional organisations li0e S22="+ EU+ S"O+ 2SE23+ 2U and 3&Os including
en*ironmental+ social and humanitarian would 'e on the list of power centres,
)ere a $uestion arises4 whether the multipolar world with so many power centres
could ensure peace and security( here are serious concerns 'ecause pre*ious
multipolarity had led to two World Wars, he answer is assuredly affirmati*e, he
future multipolarity is not going to 'e li0e the pre*ious one 'ased on independent
power 'ase of countries, On the contrary+ the emerging multipolarity is the age of
growing inter-dependence and mutual cooperation, he countries would not 'e
asserting their influence indi*idually 'ut through regional and international
organisations on the 'asis of democratic principles,
he strength of economy+ technological ad*ancement+ a*aila'ility of energy and
human de*elopment depend upon the cooperation of all countries and ci*ilisations,
2nd a multipolar world can 'est ser*e this purpose 'y creating 'alance in e/ercise of
power and 'oosting competiti*e atmosphere in technological and economic fields, In
this regard+ a scholar of "hinese !eople 2ssociation for !eace and Disarmament+ Ku
Lhongrong says+ -2 multipolar world is characterised with coe/istence of multiple
forces and multiple entities,. o 'e precise+ collecti*e security+ mutual cooperation
and inter-dependence would 'e the earmar0 of multipolar world,
o achie*e this purpose+ all the e/isting and emerging powers need to de*elop
consensus on some prere$uisites, he international relations are re$uired to 'e
democratised, 2nd to achie*e the goals+ U3 is a 'est forum, %irstly its charters 'asic
principles of e$uality of states+ ma1ority as core of democratic system and
mechanism of institutions shall 'e followed in true spirit in dealing with all
international issues, Secondly+ U3s authority must 'e safeguarded and enhanced to
play its role to 'alance the power of *arious forces and to find 1ust and rational
solution to international conflicts li0e !alestine+ Iashmir+ Ira$+ nuclear proliferation
and humanitarian crises, It shall facilitate dialogue and e/change of *iews 'etween
different ci*ilisations and cultures of all religion+ region and countries,
2s the chronicles of international politics ha*e pro*ed that hegemony and
imperialism are the 'iggest threat to world peace and are the root causes of conflicts
and wars+ the multipolar world of Ginter-dependence and Gcoe/istence is a 'id to
create a harmonious world of economic sta'ility+ social 1ustice+ collecti*e security and
common de*elopment, In this way+ human will see the world to em'ar0 on the path
of peace-the ultimate goal,