A Multipolar Global Order Doesn’t Mean the West is “in Retreat”

There’s no question that the post-Soviet world order is undergoing a seismic shift.

The real question is, how? The post-World War II international order that enabled today’s political, economic, and security arrangements and institutions is in question as power diffuses worldwide, shuffling seats at the table of global decision making.

Today, aspiring powers seek to adjust the rules of the international order and alter the global context in a way beneficial to their interests.

This complicates any reform of international institutions such as the UN Security Council or the Bretton-Woods institutions, also brings into question whether political, civil and human rights—hallmarks of liberal values and US leadership since 1945—will continue to be so.

Norms that were believed to be settled are increasingly threatened if present trends hold, and consensus to implement and follow standards can be difficult to build as Russia, China, and Iran seek to shape regions and international norms in their favor. Some features of the evolving global order are apparent:

Rising and Declining Powers Exert Their Influence

Competition is on the increase as China and Russia seek to exert more considerable influence over their neighboring regions and encourage an order wherein US influence doesn’t dominate.

Although nations and organizations will continue to shape citizen anticipation about the future order, citizen and sub-national concerns will increasingly push states to the stage that international and domestic politics won’t be separable.

This may result in the near term in waning responsibilities to security concepts and human rights among several nations, even as many individuals and smaller groups advocate for ideas through platforms, venues, and institutions.

Authoritarian regimes are likely to reinterpret and manipulate human rights norms increasingly.  This may probably lead to decreasing consensus in the international arena on the extraterritorial obligations of nations, which might have implications for domestic societies and the resolution of humanitarian conflicts.

International Norms are Changing

The norms and practices emerging around climate change—and their influence on global and state development policies—are the more than likely candidates for fostering a twenty-first-century set of universal principles.  Majorities in 40 nations, according to a poll by Pew, say that climate change is a significant issue, with a median of 54 percent saying it’s an issue.

The near-term likelihood of international competition leading to doubt and global disorder will stay raised as long as ad-hoc internationalism persists.

As dominant nations limit cooperation to a subset of issues while asserting their interests in regional matters, international norms and institutions are likely to hamper and the global system to fragment in favor of contested regional spheres of influence.

Russian assertiveness will harden viewpoints in the Baltics along with other portions of Europe, escalating the potential risk of conflict.

Russia will seek, and sometimes feign, international cooperation, although openly challenging norms and rules it perceives as a counter to its interests and providing support for leaders of fellow “handled democracies” which promote resistance to American policies and personal tastes.

Moscow has little stake in the rules of the international economics and may be counted on to take actions that weaken the United States’ and European Union’s institutional advantages.

The Kremlin will test NATO and resolve, seeking to undermine Western authenticity; it will attempt to exploit splits between Europe’s both north and south and east and west, and also to drive a wedge between the US and the EU.

Likewise, Moscow will become more active in the Middle East and these areas of the world wherein it believes it can check US influence. Lastly, Russia will Stay dedicated to atomic weapons as a deterrent and as a counter to stronger conventional military forces, as well as it’s ticket to superpower status.

Russian military doctrine allegedly calls for the limited use of nuclear weapons in a situation where Russia’s vital interests are at stake to “de-escalate” a conflict by demonstrating that continued conventional conflict risks escalating the emergency to a large-scale nuclear exchange. 

Editor at Global Security Review

Joshua Stowell is the editor of Global Security Review. His work has been cited by the Congressional Research Service, Real Clear Defense, Small Wars Journal, Het Financieele Dagblad, and other business, defense, and security publications. Joshua holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.

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