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Richard Haass: "The Age of Non-Polarity"

POLS 4605

Nouran Rabie

on 5 October 2015

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Transcript of Richard Haass: "The Age of Non-Polarity"

The Evolution of World Orders
Multipolarity and Balance of Power (until World War II)
Bipolarity (Cold War era)
Unipolarity (post-Cold War era)
Nonpolarity (15-20 years after Cold War, globalization era)

The Age of Non-Polarity
Richard N. Haass
Current Power Centers of the World
The Decline of US Global Power
How should the US behave in the “Newer World Order”?
The 6 major world powers: China, EU, India, Japan, Russia, US
Regional Powers:
Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela
Africa: Nigeria, South Africa
Middle East: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia
South Asia: Pakistan
East Asia and Oceania: Australia, Indonesia, South Korea
Global Organizations: IMF, United Nations, World Bank
Regional Organizations:
African Union, Arab League, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union, Organization of American States, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Functional Organizations:
International Energy Agency, OPEC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, World Health Organization
Other (Regional) Powers
States within Nation-States: California, Uttar Pradesh (India)
Cities: New York, São Paulo, Shanghai
“Large global companies” dominating the fields of energy, finance, and manufacturing
Global media outlets: Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN
Militias: Hamas, Hizb Allah, the Mahdi Army, Taliban
Political parties, religious institutions and movements, terrorist organizations (Al Qaeda), drug cartels
“More benign/gentle NGOs”: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace
Nonpolarity does not mean there are no powers at all, instead it means there are more power centers scattered all over the world; i.e. power becomes diffused rather than centered.
This is different to classic multipolarity, because there are many more power centers and many of them are not nation-states; i.e. in today's world, states lose their monopoly on power.
Challengers of the State
From above: regional and global organizations
From below: militias
From the side: NGOs and corporations
How are these Powers Challenged?
Declining effectiveness
High military spending does not equal high military capacity.
Al-Qaeda: proof that costly pieces of modern weponry are not practical or useful in urban combat zones (vs. traditional battle fields)
Economic challenges:
Rise of sovereign wealth funds in China, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE (= government controlled pools of wealth due to oil and gas exports) leads to the move a way from US economic dominance and liquidity for US firms.
London (vs. New York) as the world’s financial center (IPO) + £ & € > $ + ¥ et al. growing + oil denominated in € or a basket of currencies = US economy vulnerable to inflation and currency crisis
Diplomatic Influence:
US political influence is becoming less despite its power; e.g. sanctions on Iran, North Korea (nuclear program), Sudan (civil war in Darfur), Pakistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.
Culture and Information:
US pop-culture is challenged by Bollywood and other film, TV and news producers world wide, as well as internet-based news and entertainment content.
Sources of US Power
World’s most capable military
World's largest economy and GDP
Major source of culture, information and innovation
Due to globalization and nonpolarity, the US is experiencing relative decline in power and absolute decline in influence and independence, which lead to a decline in its position in the world.
"Farewell To Unipolarity"
A Historical Moment
From a
realist perspective
, unipolarity is seen as a historical “moment” that only lasted for 15 to 20 years.
Hence, it was
bound to end
and be replaced by
Why didn't Multipolarity emerge?
Anti-Americanism is widespread, however
no great-power rival
or set of great powers have emerged to challenge the US. This is due to the
between US power and that of any potential rival is
too great
Why can't other states surpass the powers of the US?
: Even if China obtains a higher GDP than the US, its wealth will be absorbed by its vast poor

population, making, e.g., military developments or external undertaking impossible.
: same; bureaucracy, high population, little infrastructure.
: greater GDP, but it doesn’t act as a unified nation-state, not able or willing to act individually as the historical great powers.
: shrinking, aging population, no great power political culture.
: willingness is there, but cash-crop-based economy, declining population, internal challenges (no cohesion).
Alienation vs. Rivalry
US foreign policy under G.W. Bush alienated other nations, however it
did not cause any threats
to the
national interests of its rivals
. His foreign policy only lead to denunciations and absence of cooperation instead of outright resistance.
Global Dependency
The dependency of major powers on the
economic and political
, which is lead by the US, eliminates rivalry.
Integration decreases competition and conflict.
Three Explanations of the End of Unipolarity
US Foreign Policy
Due to the things the US has done and has failed to do in the post-WWII era, it has helped the emergence of alternative power centers in the world and has weakened its position relative to them.
Energy policy
: i.e., the increased demand for foreign oil especially after the 1970s oil shocks, helped make oil and gas producers become major power centers (through transfer of wealth and leverage)
Economic policy
: war in Vietnam + increased domestic spending (L. Johnson), war in Afghanistan and Iraq + increased discretionary spending + cut taxes (G.W. Bush), budget surplus turned into deficit, which creates downward pressure on the dollar, stimulates inflation and contribute to the accumulation of wealth elsewhere in the world.
Iraq war
: an expensive war of choice (militarily, economically, diplomatically as well as in human terms) and an example of Paul Kennedy's "imperial overstretch" concept.
Historical Explanation
States develop (financially, demographically, technologically) which leads to productivity and prosperity. Hence the rise of new powers cannot be stopped. As a result we get to have a larger number of actors with regional and global influence.
Nonpolarity as a consequence of globalization, because it increases the volume, velocity and importance of cross-border flows of everything.
Two ways globalization reinforces nonpolarity:
many cross-border flows take place outside the control and knowledge of governments, which weakens the influence of major powers.
this strengthens the capacities of non-state actors, e.g. energy exporters, terrorists, rogue states, etc.
In a globalized world, being the strongest state does not equal having monopoly on power; the accumulation of power is now easier for individuals and groups.
Negative Effects of Nonpolarity on the US
A difficulty to lead the world to promote or build collective responses to global challenges and make institutions work (e.g. Doha Round of global trade talks, where no agreement was reached).
An increase in the number of threats and vulnerabilities of the US (e.g. rogue states, terrorist groups, energy producing states, etc.).
The rise of rise of Iran as a nuclear threat is a result of nonpolarity; and due to nonpolarity, the US cannot manage Iran alone.
Multilateralism and Diplomacy
Multilateralism is essential, and has to include actors other than great powers. Reforming UN Security Council and G8 to reflect the world of today no that of post-WWII. Networks alongside organizations. Signing treaties with fewer parties with narrower goals (e.g. regional and bilateral trade accords).
Nonpolarity complicates diplomacy. Relationships and structures will be selective and situational (vs. fixed and predictable). Allies and adversaries will become flexible.
Global integration will promote stability; “concentrated nonpolarity”.
Steps the US needs to take to improve the International System
Reduce fuel consumption to lessen the pressure on world prices, decrease US vulnerability to market manipulation by oil suppliers and slow the pace of climate change.
Homeland Security
Make society more resilient to terrorism to reduce the impact of attacks (funding and training emergency responders + flexible and durable infrastructure).
Nuclear weapons (and unguarded nuclear material)
Combat their spread by establishing internationally managed enriched-uranium or spent-fuel banks for countries that use nuclear power to produce electricity, and creating security assurances and defensive systems as well as robust sanctions for countries that use it to produce bombs. Also use preemptive strikes to combat users of biological weapons (however, not encourages-> instability).
Combating it using intelligence, law enforcement resources and military capabilities. Reducing recruitment by socially delegitimizing it and integrating alienated young men and women into their societies.
Extend the scope of WTO and ensure continued flow of investments (creating a World Investment Organization to prevent investment protectionism).
State Failure
Preventing it and dealing with its consequences through a larger military and trained civilians to assist in nation-building tasks. Continued economic and military assistance to weak states to meet their responsabilities to their citizens and neighbors.
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