Foreseeing Post Covid-19 World Order –
Detailed Analytical Study
#Tags: Covid-19, World Order, EU, US, Trans-Atlantic, Atlanticism, Economic Recession, NATO, Russia, China, Multi-Polarity
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
Main Aspects of The Study
Rationale and Significance of the Study
Major Observations/Inferences of Notable Scholars/Authors
Critical Examination of These Observations/Inferences
Conclusive Finding From The Study
Rationale and Significance of This Study
While the human, economic and social devastation caused by the globally–spread Covid-19 is still in full spate many scholars have already started drawing attention towards the most likely and discernible consequential major changes in global geopolitics in the post Covid-19 scenario. Their observations and inferences, being related to clearly observable ground realities, deserve serious attention to grasp the changes which appear quite likely in the post Covid-19 world order. Careful study and critical analysis of the observations/inferences of the notable scholars and authors is, therefore, of high significance for policy-planners of all countries of the world.
Collation of the major observations and inferences of some of the notable scholars/authors; followed by critical examination of those observations and inferences; and then drawing conclusive finding from the study.
Major Observations/Inferences of Notable Scholars/Authors
(Note. Underlining has been added to highlight the expertise of the scholars/authors and the portions of their observations etc, which deserve special attention).
Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) David Kilcullen is retired officer of Australian Army; a PhD in politics from the University of New South Wales; was seconded to the United States Department of Defense, serving as the Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He worked in the field in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and South East Asia.He became a member of a small group of civilian and military experts, who worked on the personal staff of General David Petraeus, the Commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq. He has also served as the Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to US’ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice(1). He is therefore one of the most relevant scholars for this study.
He has written a very thought-provoking paper titled “Coronavirus: China, Russia make a play for a new order” (2), published by an Australian newspaper The Weekend Australian, dated 4 April 2020. Some of his observations/inferences are briefly mentioned as under.
Referring to his published book, he mentions, “I finished The Dragons and the Snakes — the book about how adversaries have evolved since the Cold War — a year ago, well before the coronavirus crisis. Yet that crisis, along with the oil shock triggered by Moscow’s sudden exit from its OPEC-Plus deal with Saudi Arabia and the resulting collapse in global oil prices, reinforces several of the book’s arguments”.
“It shows how dangerously dependent on communist China our manufacturing base and supply chains have become, and how overly reliant Western nations are on Russian oil and gas. It illustrates how our narrow definition of warfare (which does not consider strategic supply-chain manipulation, health-system destabilisation or the “oil weapon” as acts of war) contrasts with the understanding in Beijing and Moscow, where strategists include these actions and others in a much broader conception of conflict”.
“And the chaotic pandemic response highlights how the international community — once relatively unified under the leadership of Western democracies, co-operating through institutions such as the UN and the EU — has fractured. Lockdowns, travel bans and border closures have thrown globalisation into reverse. And as I pointed out in part one of the themes in my book last month, the collapse of confidence in experts and institutions, as with the loss of trust in Washington by many formerly staunch US allies, has much to do with the failure of US-led military interventions during the past two decades”.
“For all its tactical brilliance, the hyper-conventional, hi-tech, high-cost precision warfare practised by the US and its allies (including Australia) has utterly failed to deliver strategic success in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria or the broader war on terrorism”.
“During the past two decades our tunnel vision on terrorism, as we struggled to extricate ourselves from a Middle Eastern morass of our own making, allowed adversaries to adapt around us, sidestepping our advanced military capabilities. Russia, China, North Korea and Iran evolved ways of operating outside the bounds of conventional war, doing just enough, and operating ambiguously enough, to achieve their objectives without triggering a Western military response”.
Regarding US’ war policies applied by Presidents Obama and Trump he asserts, “Both presidents have sought to disengage from wars of occupation, adopt a light-footprint posture abroad, demand more of allies and refocus at home. So far Trump seems as unsuccessful as Obama, suggesting that the structure of the international system (created by the US and its Cold War allies in their own image) drives US behaviour more than the personality of any given president”.He then postulates that for the same reason, that strategy “seems unlikely to work”.
Having thus highlighting the ‘breaking up’ of the US-Allies system of global geopolitics, he then suggests, “Moving away from the US-dominated system implies transition to a successor: another great power, a set of international institutions or a concert of powers. For this to work, any successor would have to be willing to assume the burden of global stability, capable of doing so, and friendly enough to be acceptable to the US as the current superpower. To put it bluntly, no such successor exists: China is not interested in assuming the US global role, Russia lacks the capacity to do so, neither is friendly enough that Washington would agree, and international institutions are too weak”.
However, he has also admitted a very important aspect relating to the current international relationing of China and Russia, “Beijing has offered assistance to Pacific and Asian nations as it recover from the initial wave of the virus, while Western countries lock down and turn inward. As the full impact of the virus strikes across Africa, spreads in Pakistan and reaches Latin America, we can expect China to deepen its influence in these areas even as Europe, Australasia and the Americas find themselves swamped. Russia, meanwhile, has sent a military medical team to northern Italy, the first such deployment to a NATO member in living memory and a sign that China is not the only player keen to exploit the crisis to improve its position in competition with the West”. Though he has not further delved into the implications of these international relationing moves by China and Russia, yet the most probable positive geopolitical effects for China and Russia cannot be ignored.
Leonid Savin is a geopolitical analyst, chief editor of Geopolitica.ru (from 2008); Director of the Foundation of monitoring and forecasting of development for the cultural-territorial spaces (FMPRKTP); and author of numerous books on geopolitics, conflicts, international relations and political philosophy (3).
His article titled “Medical Nationalism, Identity, And Multipolarirty” (4), published by Oriental Reviw.org dated 11 April 2020 presents many important observations and inferences relating to this study. Some of those are mentioned below.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered international political processes. Comparisons are already being drawn: the 2008 global crisis led to the formation of BRICS, the IMF was established during the Second World War, and the G7 came into being following the 1973 oil crisis, so surely this crisis will also lead to the emergence of some new configuration”.
“Anxious globalists are shouting that a new wave of nationalisation is starting around the world, and autocratic regimes are seizing the opportunity to consolidate their power”.
“In an article dated 18 March 2020, former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, and director of the Brookings Institution’s China Strategy Initiative, Rush Doshi, noted that “while its geopolitical implications should be considered secondary to matters of health and safety, those implications may in the long term, prove just as consequential – especially when it comes to the United States’ global position”. They compare the current pandemic with the “Suez moment” and write that it is now testing every element of US leadership. And while China acted quickly, even helping other countries, the same cannot be said of Washington”.
“The unprecedented assistance provided by China, Russia and Cuba showed the world the true meaning of solidarity, as opposed to Europe’s hypocritical values. Many Italian politicians, and not just the Eurosceptics, have started talking about a possible “Italexit”.
“Getting back to the globalists’ opinion on the issue, there is a rather telling article on the website of the Council on Foreign Affairs that evaluates the actions of the US as the engine of globalisation. The author writes: “As policymakers around the world struggle to deal with the new coronavirus and its aftermath, they will have to confront the fact that the global economy doesn’t work as they thought it did”. “The result may be a shift in global politics. With the health and safety of their citizens at stake, countries may decide to block exports or seize critical supplies, even if doing so hurts their allies and neighbors. Such a retreat from globalization would make generosity an even more powerful tool of influence for states that can afford it. So far, the United States has not been a leader in the global response to the new coronavirus, and it has ceded at least some of that role to China. This pandemic is reshaping the geopolitics of globalization, but the United States isn’t adapting. Instead, it’s sick and hiding under the covers”.
“This will provide an additional opportunity to introduce and implement the idea of multipolarity not only by the opponents of a unipolar hegemony, but also within the West itself, since it will be a question of the West’s very survival. And for the non-West, it will open up another window of opportunity in global geopolitics”.
Kate Guy, Senior Research Fellow with the Washington, US-based Center for Climate and Security (CCS), and Chair of CCS’s National Security, Military and Intelligence Panel (NSMIP). She is currently pursuing a PhD in International Relations at the University of Oxford. She most recently worked in American politics and policy as the Senior Policy Program Manager with the Truman National Security Project, and as assistant to the Campaign Manager of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential race. From 2012-2015, Kate worked on the negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in various roles at the US State Department, United Nations, and international NGOs. Her work on these topics led to numerous published works, speaking engagements, and government strategies. She previously interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality where she focused on federal sustainability policy.Kate earned both her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University, specializing in international affairs and global environmental policy. She was raised in Minnesota (US).(5)
In her article, titled “Coronavirus shows we are not at all prepared for the security threat of climate change” (6), published by The Conversation dated 16April 2020, she has discussed various related aspects.
In her article she has also corroborated the ground realities, as indicated by other scholars/authors –i.e. of the visible ‘breaking up’ of the existing world order, and of the US-aligned EU/NATO countries now being compelled to take ‘independent’ geoeconomic and related geopolitical decisions to meet the global coronavirus crisis challenges.
In that context, she has asserted, “Over the first few crucial weeks of this crisis, we’ve seen world leaders take a number of actions that indicate how climate shocks could destabilise the world order”; “while the COVID-19 crisis has engendered a massive public response, governments have been largely uncoordinated in their efforts to manage the virus’s spread. According to Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, countries vary widely in the stringency of their policies, with no two countries implementing a synchronised course of action”; and “While traditionally a great power like the US might step forward to direct a collective international response, instead the Trump administration has repeatedly chosen to blindside its allies with the introduction of new limitations on trade and movement of peoples. This mismanagement has led to each nation going on its own, despite the fact that working together would net greater gains for all”.
Mitchell Feierstein is the CEO of Glacier Environmental Fund and author of “Planet Ponzi: How the World Got into This Mess, What Happens Next, and How to Protect Yourself”. He spends his time between London and Manhattan.
In his article, titled “Covid-19 has exposed ugliness of GLOBALISM & OPEN BORDERS – and given nations incentive to regain INDEPENDENCE” (7), published by RT dated 6 April 2020, he highlights that the current system of “globalism” is based upon ‘open borders’ (at least between countries of the developed world) and extreme reliance upon the supply chain from different countries. He argues that it is this hitherto extreme reliance of the ‘globalism system member countries’ of the developed world on different countries for unhindered supply chain of required commodities, which was factually fraught with the serious danger of utter failure of this very system of globalisation – as has been demonstrated by the Covid-19 crisis. In that context, some notable extracts of his article are mentioned below.
“Covid-19 has opened the kimono of globalism, and what’s underneath is ugly. The virus has illustrated the importance of, and our reliance on, just-in-time supply chains. Supply chains are only as strong as their weakest link. If any ingredient is missing from that supply chain, the nation controlling that commodity can break it, causing devastating economic, geopolitical and social consequences. For example, take emergency medical supplies and critical drugs. Most antibiotics, as well as the main ingredients to produce them, are made in China”.
“The imposition of national export bans on medical supply chain ingredients is a wakeup call for every nation state that has become reliant upon other nations for products they no longer produce domestically”.
“Any disruption to our supply chain will result in a surge in unemployment and mortgage defaults, and people won’t be able to feed their families. Civil unrest has already begun in Italy, and it will go viral globally”.
“Each nation state needs to rethink and recategorize its priorities.——–When taking a sober look at Brexit and my reasons for wanting to leave the European Union, Covid-19 provides a stark reminder that in order for a nation to survive and thrive, independence, not interdependence on supply chains should be priority number one. Covid-19 has illustrated how interdependence can cost lives”.
“Covid-19 has ravaged Italy where the death rate has been oscillating between 11% and 14%. These are the highest recorded mortality rates attributed to coronavirus during this crisis. This is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. They need help and they need it now. They called upon the EU, but the cries fell upon deaf ears. The only help came from Russia”.
Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
He has also highlighted the most likely upcoming ‘break up’ of the hitherto united European Union (EU) as a result of the geoeconomic and related geopolitical ramifications of the Coronavirus crisis. It is obvious that such an eventuality is bound to bring in its wake major change in the current US/Allied-led world order too.
Following extracts of his article, titled “As Italy and Spain issue dark warnings, the prospect of Covid-19 delivering a mortal blow to the EU is growing by the day” (8), published by RT dated 9 April 2020, support his assertion.
“What was once idle speculation in the bars of Brussels is now mainstream –even leading Europhiles like Jacques Delors are talking openly about how the bloc’s growing divisions may lead to a dramatic break-up”.
“Suddenly, however, that speculation has legs. Those bars and restaurants might now lay empty, but the rumours have spread like, dare I say, a virus”.
“Senior European figures, the architects and cheerleaders of the entire EU project – not the easily-ignored usual bunch of Eurosceptics and rogues – are now repeatedly talking openly about the very real prospect of the bloc’s collapse”.
“We have national leaders, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and his counterparts from Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and Portugal, António Costa , sounding dire warnings about the future of the EU over coronavirus and the financial measures being taken to help those countries whose economies have been laid waste by it”.
The Italian prime minister told the BBC that he had warned European leaders that they were “facing an appointment with history” that they could not miss.
“If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real.”
“——-the most influential figures in the history of the project, former European Commission President Jacques Delors, warning that the lack of solidarity among nations is “a mortal danger to the European Union.”
Alan Riley, Senior Fellow, Institute for Statecraft, and Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher of a Spanish Think Tank ‘Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB)’, had highlighted the already existing ingrained ‘fissure lines’ which could anytime develop into cracks in the EU, as far back as 2016 when UK opted to exit from EU.
In that context, under-mentioned extracts of his article titled “Brexit: Causes and Consequences”(9) published by CIDOB in October 2016, are worth noting.
“The EU of 2016 by contrast has been hit by a series of extremely damaging blows: the economic crisis of 2008; the self-inflicted damage from failure to deal with the flaws of the euro following the crisis; Russian success in upsetting the post-cold war balance of power in Europe; terrorist attacks from ISIS and immense migration flows into the Union. All of these blows have created powerful anti-establishment, anti-EU constituencies across the continent, not just in the UK. The Brexit vote is likely to empower these constituencies further undermining support for the EU. In addition, the process of British exit from the Union is likely to fragment Union solidarity, opening up fissures that will be difficult to close”.
“Nationalist forces are on the rise across the continent, fuelled by anti-immigration sentiment: most notably in France, but also in Hungary and Poland, in the Netherlands and Italy, and even in Germany. There is an erosion of support for the EU institutions across southern Europe”.
“It galvanises anti-EU forces across the continent, with the prospect that the EU is indeed toppling and it will only need a few more events like the Brexit vote to end the Union”. (And, probably this Covid-19 is that devastating event which, Alan Riley feared, would end the Union).
Critical Examination of These Observations and Inferences
The much informative array of the observations, inferences and assertions of the aforementioned scholars and authors amply assists in ‘reading the pulse’ of the elite as also of the multitude of the populace of ‘Western world’, relating to the serious human/social and even political/geopolitical effects caused by the current Covid-19 devastation; as also the most likely consequent aftermath.
There are basically three major assertions: (a) that the European Union (EU) is most likely to ‘break up’ as a union of countries, because keeping in view the peculiarities of their own socio-economic compulsions, the member countries are now left with no alternative but to act independent of the EU’s policy framework, to meet the socio-economic challenges thrust upon by Covid-19; (b) the decades old ‘Trans-Atlantic geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic bond’, tying US and major EU countries together, is also showing clear signs of breaking up; and (c) as a result of these major changes, a new ‘World Order’ is most likely to emerge to replace the current US-led World Order, in which, in the words of aforementioned Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) David Kilcullen “another great power, a set of international institutions or a concert of powers” may emerge as a successor; but he also opined that any such successor is not in sight (his assertion that no successor is in sight, however, is debatable).
As for the ‘break up’ of EU, this aspect deserves bit of a deeper analysis.
One important aspect which has not been highlighted in these papers/articles is regarding the historically ingrained strong ‘nationalist’ psyche of most of the European nations.
It is worth keeping in mind that most of the European nations had/and still have an ingrained psyche of national pride and élan, derived from their respective past glory – and that pride and élan was also the reason for repeated bloody wars amongst them in the past. So the initial basic reason for forming the EU, as recorded in the official website of EU (Europa.eu), was “The European Union is set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War” (10).
So, factually right from the beginning formation of EU was a ‘marriage of inconvenience’ rather than a marriage of convenience. It started with six members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands); later it expanded to 27 nations – UK joined in 1973 – yet, all-through, the ingrained national pride and élan of the member nations remained ‘un-united’.
Besides that, this ‘Union’ of EU members, initially united under the compulsion of threats of war, was subsequently ‘kept’ united under different ‘pretextual threats’ – i.e. threat of expansion of Communism of Soviet Union (USSR) and China during Cold War period; unashamedly fabricated threat from a Muslim country (Iraq) of weapon of mass destruction (WMD) thus ‘creating the excuse’ of militarily invading and devastating Iraq by US+EU members; threat of Islamic Terrorism fabricated to militarily invade Muslim countries – Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, etc causing widespread devastation by US+EU members; etc.
However, by the time of the break-up of Soviet Union in last decade of previous century, all threats to EU members (threats of wars, threat from Communism) had died out – thereby virtually removing the raison d’être of the unity of EU. Besides that, EU members were facing one crisis after the other, i.e. economic crisis of 2008, Euro crisis, and crisis of immigration inflows from the aforementioned countries devastated by US-led military invasions, etc – while US remained the major geopolitical and geoeconomic beneficiary of those invasions. It was for those reasons that even by the year 2016, as asserted by the aforementioned Alan Riley, powerful anti-establishment and anti-EU constituencies had already emerged and nationalist forces had started rising across the continent, as also erosion of support for the EU institutions across southern Europe had commenced.
The current socio-economically devastating Covid-19 has further exacerbated the previously faced adverse effects of the ‘blows’ to the unity of EU as mentioned by Alan Riley, and have thus rekindled the flame of ‘competing national pride’ which asserts national sovereignty, rather than unity with other EU nations, in national policies.
In view of these facts, it is therefore obvious that EU is certain to undergo major changes, even involving its unity in many major policy matters. It may not completely break-up like the break-up of Soviet Union, yet many major member countries are most likely to start asserting their sovereignty in formulating their internal and external policies independent of EU. That will be a major factor in bringing in significant changes in the post Covid-19 global geopolitics.
In the case of the ‘Trans-Atlantic geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic bond’, tying US and major EU countries, there is much debate about the ultimate fate of this Trans-Atlantic Alliance as a result of the huge economic, social, and political effects cast upon the member countries of this Alliance by Covid-19.
The available books/reports/commentaries and recorded events amply indicate that right from its inception this ‘Trans-Atlantic Alliance’, between US and many European countries, had problems. Some of those were also indicated by the well-known Henry Kissinger in his book “The Troubled Partnership: A Reappraisal of the Atlantic Alliance”.
Even as earlier as September 1965 Paul Johnson, CBE, an English historian, journalist and author had also highlighted those problems in his published commentary on the book of Henry Kissinger and of Richard J. Barnet & Marcus G. Raskin. He had asserted that “I cannot remember any time since its formation in 1949 when the Atlantic Alliance was not said to be passing through a crisis. For a long time, this “crisis” centered around the vexed problem of German rearmament and the various formulae which might be devised to permit it, while providing guarantees against a return to German militarism. Then the “crisis” shifted to the reluctance of the European nations to produce the minimum number of ground forces which the NATO supreme command regarded as essential. Now we have two concurrent “crises”: how to allow the Germans a share in nuclear weapons policy without actually giving them a finger on the trigger; and how to reconcile the very existence and functioning of NATO with General de Gaulle’s desire that American influence in Europe should be greatly diminished, if not eliminated entirely”. And, most significantly, Paul Johnson also asserted “Much of the confusion in which these two books ultimately plunge themselves springs from the touching, but quite baseless, belief that national self-interest can, and eventually will, wither away” (11).
It is also well-known that the problems in the Trans-Atlantic Alliance have grown many folds by now. The question therefore arises whether or not this Alliance is going to break up as ‘trumpeted’ by international media.
In that context, a detailed analytical article has been published by Madeleine Schwartz. She is a writer and editor; she studied Classics at Harvard and Oxford, where she received Henry Fellowship; her work has been taught at Harvard Law School, Boston University and Bard College; she has reported in four languages in three continents; her article “The end of Atlantacism: has Trump killed the ideology that won the Cold War” won the 2019 European Press Prize (12).
Some of the very ‘revealing’ extracts of this award winning article (13) of her, which explain the complicated dynamics of this Alliance, as also indicate its (possible) forthcoming fate, are mentioned in succeeding paragraphs.
“The idea that the world’s stability and prosperity is defined primarily by a partnership between Europeans and Americans is called Atlanticism or transatlanticism, and the people who care about it are convinced that Trump is out to tear up the alliance”.
“At the heart of the crisis of transatlanticism is the legacy of the American effort to rebuild Europe after the second world war through three institutions: Bretton Woods, the Marshall plan and Nato. These were the foundations of the so-called “post-world order”, a programme to stabilise Europe and prevent the emergence of new forms of totalitarianism. (“Transatlanticism” sounded better than “denazification”.)”
“But has Trump really ruined the transatlantic relationship? Headlines since the 1960s would suggest the relationship declined long before he took office”.
“Why, then, has the idea of the transatlantic relationship as the axis of world stability stayed around? —- Even as the alliance between the US and Europe has waned, the concept of a free world built on transatlantic pillars has lived on as a powerful political idea. This is not because of the partnership itself, poorly defined and shifting, as much an ideological construction as an institution. Is it possible that the panic about the collapse of Atlanticism is really a panic about who is in charge?”
“But if shared values and norms are the foundation of the liberal world order, what are they? The US and Germany, to use the example of two countries on either side of the Atlantic, are both representative democracies, that is true. It does not take a lot of digging to see clear differences in norms and values in their political systems:——-.”
“Atlanticism has never had a very stable meaning. For one thing, the US and Europe have not always considered each other natural political partners. For most of American history, there hasn’t even been a unified “Europe” to partner with”.
“What exactly was the shared culture of Atlanticism, and who was sharing it? The general goal of Nato was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down”, as Hastings Ismay, Churchill’s chief assistant and the first secretary general of the organisation, is said to have quipped”.
“No matter how quickly the world changes, Atlanticism can endure, not as a reflection of politics as they are but as a tacit prescription of who should be in charge”.
“Whatever happens in the most recent crisis, there will still be Atlanticism, a nebulous set of ideals harking back to the end of the second world war. Its vagueness is too useful: political opportunism dignified with the weight of history”.
The aforementioned presentation of very diligently ‘dug out’ facts and the intelligent analysis about the complicated dynamics of the US-Europe Trans-Atlantic Alliance, by Madeleine Schwartz, is certainly high class scholarly work. Her inferences/assertions have confirmed that the matrix of this Alliance always had and still has deep cultural, social, and political divisive fault lines. That is the reason why this Alliance is clearly waning. However, she also asserts that despite these facts, and further adverse effects of the devastation by Covid-19, the idea of Atlanticism (She is not mentioning Tran-Atlantic Alliance) can endure, not as a reflection of politics as they are but as a tacit prescription of who should be in charge. She also mentions that this ‘residual’ Atlanticism will be a nebulous (i.e. hazy) set of ideals; its vagueness being too useful for political opportunism. That assessed assertion by Madeleine Schwartz about the post Covid-19 future of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance appears to have higher chances of being correct – i.e. in the post Covid-19 scenario, Trans-Atlantic Alliance may not actually break-up like the former Soviet union, but it may remain only as a ‘loose association’ without its once unified politico-military geopolitical dominance.
The probability of replacement of existing US-led World Order (also at times referred to as ‘US-led Liberal International Order (LIO)’ by a New World Order, in the post Covid-19 scenario, is real.
In that context certain of the related aspects which have to be kept in mind are: (a) the ‘foundation pillars’ of this US-led World Order, and their current status; (b) the ‘stated’ and the actual objectives of this US-led World Order; (c) US’ continuing efforts to retain its ‘World Order hold’ despite serious problems faced in retaining its lead role; and (d) challenges faced by US in retaining US -led World Order.
As mentioned by Madeleine Schwartz, US built the World Order based upon the ‘foundation pillars’ of Breton Woods, the Marshall Plan and NATO.
The Breton Woods Agreement 1944, initiated on behest of US and UK, was signed by representatives of 44 countries in Breton Woods, Hampshire (US), for the purpose of regulating the international monetary and financial order after conclusion of World War 2; and for that purpose International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) were formulated. In 1946 this agreement was finally ratified by the governments of all countries, except USSR. This Agreement provided US with overriding control on the financial aspects at global level. That fact has also been highlighted by the US’ Economic Analyst Kimberly Amadeo in article titled “Breton Woods System And 1944 Agreement: How Breton Woods Introduced a New World Order”, published on 13 March 2020 by The Balance. In that article she asserted “The Breton Woods agreement of 1944 established a new global monetary system. It replaced the gold standard with the U.S. dollar as the global currency. By so doing, it established America as the dominant power in the world economy. After the agreement was signed, America was the only country with the ability to print dollars. The agreement created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), U.S.-backed organizations that would monitor the new system” (14).
Marshall Plan was sponsored by US to assist in the economic recovery of western and southern European countries, from 1948 to 1951.
NATO is a military alliance led by US, with most EU countries, Canada, and Turkey as members. It served as a counter to USSR-led WARAW Pact Alliance. However, many of its member countries have also been ‘made to participate’ in US’ wars till to date. Its budget is shared by the member countries according to the agreed formula of 2 % of their GDP. US pays 22 % (three-fourth, according to other report) of NATO budget.
As for the current status of these ‘foundation pillars’, US’ currency (US dollar)’s monetary primacy through Breton Woods Agreement terminated when in 1970s US became unable to retain the gold link to US dollar. Since then other currencies like British Pound, European Euro also became internationally accepted currencies independent of US dollar. And, recently the trend has also commenced of other countries’ currencies being used as exchange currencies for international trade independent of US dollar – example, Pakistan-China trade in Pakistan’s and China’s currencies instead of US dollars (15). Marshall Plan had already terminated in 1951. And, since last some years NATO countries have clearly showed their reluctance to participate in US’ wars – these countries have learnt the bitter lesson that while their military personnel bled in Iraq and Afghanistan, the actual geopolitical and geoeconomic beneficiary of those wars was US alone.
The ‘stated’ US’ objectives of the ‘US-led World Order’ (also referred to as ‘Liberal International Order’) is mentioned in the summary of official US document ‘Congressional Research Service’, titled ‘US Role in The World: Background and Issues for Congress’. This document is as latest a publication as of 7th of this month (May 2020). It clarifies (underlining added for highlighting) “While descriptions of the U.S. role in the world since the end of World War II vary in their specifics, it can be described in general terms as consisting of four key elements: global leadership; defense and promotion of the liberal international order; defense and promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights; and prevention of the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia” (16).
These ‘stated’ objectives of US (along with its Allies) have always been, and still are, blatant untruths clumsily trying to camouflage the ‘real objectives’ – which were, and still are, to establish the geopolitical hegemonic stranglehold on the target countries (mostly Muslim) to plunder economic benefits and gain geostrategic advantages. That truth becomes very obvious when the actual results, of US’ and its European Allies’ military invasions/interventions supposedly to establish that World Order in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc, are taken into account. Those military invasions/interventions caused vast-spread extremely brutal human and material devastation in these countries; resulting in the death, wounding, maiming, mental disorder, and becoming homeless migrants of tens of millions of innocent men, women and children. Only a fool will call these brutally inhuman catastrophes unleashed by US and its Allies as ‘promotion of liberal international order, freedom, democracy, and human rights’.
These realities have caused the spread of what is called ‘Anti-Americanism’; and since US’ policy makers are persisting with these naked inhuman brutalities, that Anti-Americanism is being transformed into ‘mass human hatred’ for the ‘terrorism-perpetrating’ US and its Allies – and mass human hatred is far more dangerous than even the weapons of mass destruction, only if the public of US and its Allies makes their policy makers to realize.
However, despite serious problems faced in retaining its lead role, US is continuing with its efforts to retain its ‘World Order hold’. Some of US’ efforts in that context are US’ creation of a new unified military command, Africa Command, to expand its military arm to the continent of Africa also, creation of yet another command US Space Command to cover space combat operations, and the recent ‘foray’ of US naval ships in the Russian backyard of Barnet Sea.
US’ Africa Command was established in 2008; and its commanding General gave the testimony to the US’ House Armed Services Committee on 10 March this year (2020), about the Command’s ‘2020 Posture Statement to Congress’. Some of the extracts of the official document of that testimony, which highlight US’ efforts to further expand its World Order to the continent of Africa, are: “Africa is home to the fastest growing economies and populations in the world, sits at crossroads of international commerce and trade, and watches over the world’s most important sea lines of communication”. —— “China and Russia have long recognized the strategic and economic importance of Africa, and continue to seize opportunities to expand their influence across the continent. The National Defense Strategy directs us to prioritize great power competition with China and Russia due to the “magnitude of the threats they post to U.S. security and prosperity today and the potential for those threats to increase in the future.”—– “U.S. Africa Command advances U.S. strategic objectives by focusing on global power competition to maintain strategic access, by prioritizing efforts that protect the Homeland and U.S. personnel on the continent, and by responding to regional crises across our area of responsibility” (17).
In August last year (2019) US activated yet another unified combatant command, i.e. US Space Command (U.S. SPACECOM). Much details about it are not yet public, being secret. However what is known through a published report is that it is still in the state of formulation. According to its commanding General, Air Force Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command, its mission will be to “protect and defend the space domain”. Report also highlights that: “U.S. SPACECOM will treat outer space as a theater of war”. —– “As a combatant command, U.S. SPACECOM is responsible for preparing all military operations in space, and is supported by service members drawn mostly from the Air Force but also from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps”. ——- besides that, U.S. SPACECOM commanding General also asked US Congress for the creation of a ‘Space Force’, in that context “Raymond called on Congress to enact a Space Force in order to ensure there is a branch of the armed forces focused on space. He described the functions of U.S. SPACECOM and those of a Space Force as complementary. “We’re planning for a Space Force, we need a Space Force, our nation needs a Space Force,” he said. “We hope Congress will pass the NDAA that will allow that to happen” (18).
The news about US’ warships’ foray in Barents Sea has also caught attention of world media, because though being considered as international waters, Barents Sea is the naval backyard of Russia. Russia’s Northern Fleet is anchored in Severomorsk — tucked in a bay off the Barents Sea (19). This sort of ‘snooping foray’ by US’ warships has been done first time now after the end of the cold war – therefore of significance to note as a probable US’ effort to reassert its ‘World Order’.
It is in the context of these established aspects that the challenges to US-led World Order, and the discerned changes bringing up the ‘New World Order can be understood better. Three major challenges to US are worthy of examination; i.e. economic recovery, serious deterioration of US-NATO countries’ mutual trust and relationship, and the completely changing mode of competition for geopolitical dominance at regional/global levels.
Though US’ economy has fair amount of depth to absorb economic shocks; yet the immensity of economic losses already suffered so far, and to be further suffered for an indefinite period, is sure to deprive US the capability to exert its ‘economic and even military muscle’ to retain its World Order dominance any more.
It has been the reality that in the application of its World Power dominance, US drew much strength from the Trans-Atlantic Alliance and the prompt participatory support from NATO countries. However now with the severe ‘dilution’ of Trans-Atlantic Alliance, serious US’ disputes with NATO countries about NATO’s funding, and the clearly discernible distrust of NATO countries about US’ leadership role, US will surely be deprived of that strength – to an extent whereby US will be unable to apply its World Order role anymore.
In recent years the mode of competition for regional/global geopolitical dominance has also undergone major change. The previous practice of ‘world powers’ for competing for geopolitical dominance was mainly through application of their ‘military muscle’. However, by now it has been changed into the practice of applying mostly the ‘expanding geopolitical influence penetration’ of regional and extra-regional countries through mutually beneficial trade, economic projects, investments, etc. This new pattern may be termed as ‘China model’ which has already proved its immense success, in which China is constantly expanding its ‘Economic Order’ in Asia, Europe and Africa. China has succeeded in this model because in all of its deals in this model it does not attach any ‘strings’; whereas US attaches the ‘strings’, like promotion of democracy, human rights, etc – factually the façade to keep its domineering stranglehold on the countries. Now it will be too difficult for US to quickly transform to this new model of geopolitical competition, because US’ decades old external policies were/are based on ‘militarism’ as dictated by the well-established and entrenched powerful US’ Military Industrial Complex. This factor also shows US’ inability to sustain its World Order in Post Covid-19 scenario.
Conclusive Finding From The Study
All these changes almost confirm that US-led World Order is fast approaching its geopolitical demise. That ‘void’, being now created in world geopolitics’ power equation, can obviously not remain unfilled. Factually many countries/powers have already started ‘coming together’ to form ‘groups’, mainly through mutually beneficial economic interaction, with geopolitical and geostrategic considerations also included where applicable. China-Pakistan ‘group’ is now expanding due to the desire of certain countries to reap economic benefits by joining China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Russia too has shown friendly overtures towards Pakistan in terms of CPEC and military cooperation. The geopolitical tension between Russia and Turkey (NATO member) relating to Syria is also now been reported to be ‘easing out’. Out of the OIC group (of Muslim countries) Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia came strongly together against Indian atrocities on Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir; and this trio is about to develop into a strongly bonded geopolitical group. Certain EU countries are showing signs of developing new geopolitical/geoeconomic relations with other countries. There are certain other ‘groups’ too, which are showing signs of being formulated in many regions of the world. The emergence of a ‘Multi-polar World Order’ is therefore undoubtedly in the offing – though this time around this multi-polar world order groups may be more ‘flexible’ in arranging and re-arranging the groupings through application of both bilateralism and multilateralism in their interactions.