The world order as we have known it since the Second World War has changed. What does this mean for global alliances?
Today, after twelve years of exclusion, Syria’s dictator and war criminal Bashar al-Assad was welcomed back into the Arab League. In his address he said that we live in a world characterized by “multi polarity” and that Syria will always be part of the Arab countries but must be allowed to govern domestically without interference. The statement rings somewhat hollow when more than twelve million people are internally and externally displaced, Assad repeatedly has used chemical weapons on his own population, and that thousands of political opponents have been thrown in prisons. Furthermore, powers such as Russia and Iran has aided Assad to stay in power. The US has troops in the country to fight ISIS, and UN peacekeeping forces are also in the country.
” Multi polarity.” I heard the term at a panel discussion titled “A World of Trouble” at a local library in Seattle the other day. Here, experts in China, diplomacy, Russia, and the Middle East talked about the world order of today. If I had hoped to come away with peace of mind, I was mistaken.
Democracies around the world are not only under pressure, they are in decline. A majority of world’s leaders are not interested in the democratic world order that the West, led by the United States, has been working towards since the Second World War. Moreover, internally in the US there is a growing resistance to being dominant on the world leading stage. In other words, we are facing a new world order.
The post WWII order no longer works. We are looking into a multipolar future that creates alliances and connections different from traditionally value-based ones. It is not a realistic assumption that powers with huge population groups, such as China, will submit to the principles that a democratic minority feels called to push and demand in order to cooperation and alliances.
India, which considers itself a democracy, buys oil from Russia. Turkey, a NATO member state houses rich Russian oligarchs and issues Turkish passports to them if they invest in real estate. China has imperialist aspirations and is expanding with artificial islands and influencing new territories, including Africa. South Africa speaks warmly in favor of Putin. Every now and then, we see cracks within the European alliance, especially from Germany and France. In the Middle East, support for the US and the West is generally minimal, and the region is facing an economic crisis. An economy in free fall will cause millions to migrate – towards Europe. The current European Muslim population and future Muslim immigration will have an impact on the adherence to democracies and democratic alliances in the near future.
The world order is changing. Democracies versus autocracies. In that battle, democracies will lose – and they are aware of it. New alliances must therefore be formed. But what do we base them on, and how do we define which undemocratic camels can be swallowed and which are unacceptable when finding new partners? I grew up with a world order that is based on fighting for democratic forms of government – through the power of leading by example and by military means. What we are facing is inevitable, but for someone who grew up during the cold war era this change feels unpleasant and uncertain.
Alliances are still relevant – for our safety. But wishing for a worldwide Western ideal of democracy spreading across the world is unrealistic. A multilateral approach is necessary, the unilateral one is obsolete. It has not worked for the US for decades. One just needs to take a look at the coup in Iran, the Iraq war and the developments in Lebanon to see proof of this.
So, if the future consists of regional powers, authoritarian forms of government will merge. If so, the future for democracy looks even bleaker than it is now.
En multipolar verdensorden gavner ikke demokratiet. Men den er måske vejen frem
Verdensordenen som vi har kendt den siden Anden Verdenskrig har ændret sig. Hvad betyder det for globale alliancer?