Peace: the second-best option
There is a lot of unrest in the world right now. There is a war going on against Russian aggression in Ukraine. In Iran, there have been protests against the Islamic regime. China has been making maneuvers over Taiwan. And there is the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict.
A lot more is latent: tensions between Turkey and Greece over the Aegean islands, India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and Israel and Palestine. Within nations, there is competition between political parties, different religious ideologies, and rich and poor. Are we moving towards disorder, or were we in a temporary state of peace in the first place? What lies ahead of us? Let’s find out.
Since the beginning of time, humans have constantly been fighting for survival. Whether it was the fight for food and resources in the jungle or the fight for land and power between different tribes, humans have always been toiling. People enslaved other people. Countries colonized other countries. We all crave a sense of control in our lives. This need for control can be driven by a desire for stability, fear of the unknown, or feeling in control of our destiny. Whatever the reason, the need for control is a strong motivator in our lives. It can lead us to seek out power to exert control over our environment and the people around us. The powerful often control and maintain the order as it suits them, leaving those who are powerless to struggle and fight for their survival.
The Status Quo
The existing world order was established by America. This order was not established peacefully either. The American colonists fought the British for independence and the Native Americans for control of the land. They also annexed Texas and parts of Mexico. America has always been a fighting nation, willing to do whatever it takes to get what it wants. After securing its power in North America, the nation embarked on a quest to dominate the world. It did so by defeating its competitors in world wars and weakening its arch-rival, the Soviet Union, in the cold war. This led to the establishment of the US as the sole superpower of the world.
Since becoming a world power, America has taken measures to maintain its dominance. The country established international institutions, like the World Trade Organization, to influence world trade. It also toppled hostile governments and sanctioned organizations that have hurt its interests. By doing this, it has ensured that America remains the preeminent world power.
The world order that America created was not perfect, but it was largely what America wanted: democratic, capitalistic, and focused on US interests. Other countries may not be happy with it, but America was able to maintain a position of power and influence. This world order lasted for several decades but has come under strain in recent years.
The rise of revisionist states
The world order led by America is now being challenged by more assertive countries like China and Russia. The global economy has changed dramatically in the last few decades, with the rise of China and other economies creating alternate power centers. The aggregate gross domestic product of G7 member states (the US and close allies) makes up about 45 percent of the global economy in nominal terms, down from nearly 70 percent three decades ago. This decline is expected to continue as other countries continue to grow and develop.
In recent years, the world has seen an increase in competition and tension between the major powers. This is due to each power trying to defend its interests and advance its position in the world. As the world moves into chaos, the stakes are high, and the future is uncertain. Major powers are vying for control, while pariah states are banding together, which has led to a more unstable and dangerous environment. This will continue until any one power dominates or a compromise is reached. Peace is compromise and understanding and it is not likely to come soon, as each party feels they have something to gain by continuing the fight.
Many people want peace, but they are powerless to achieve it. They are usually the citizens of the land (Ukrainians, Syrians, Taiwanese, et al.) where wars are fought, and they lack the economic, military, and social power to make a difference. They may believe in the right to self-determination, but that right is hollow.
Those who are weak often want equality for it is the best they get. The powerful rarely settle for equality because they know they can get away with more. To be taken seriously, one needs to be able to prove their might by defending themselves, persisting, and striking back.
Self-determination is the right of people to choose their government and destiny. It is a cornerstone of the international order and led to the decolonization of the world. But today, it is nothing more than a geopolitics tool.
How would the US government respond to a request for self-government from a group of citizens? Would it work if such a new country were to enter into a defense agreement with China that included the installation of nuclear warheads? The short answer is no – the United States would not allow any country (new or existing) to do such an agreement. The Cuban Crisis is a perfect example. While the United States would still support the cause of other people, it would do so because of its interests. This is the wise thing for any superpower to do.
The destiny of Syria, Ukraine, Taiwan, Kashmir, Palestine, and every other dispute does not lie in the hands of the people who are affected by them, but in the vested interest of major powers.
The new world order
The world order would continue to change, as the balance of power between different nations shift. Some things will go the “China way” as the country continues to grow in power and influence. Some things will become more multilateral, with input from multiple countries. America and its allies will continue to defend their interests, and the world order will continue to evolve.
The world order is no longer what America wants it to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to give up without a fight.
The new world order does not mean that the US and its allies are powerless. America is still a leader in innovation, defense, and economy. The future of the world order is uncertain, but America can still be a leader in shaping it. The nation needs to work with its partners (and make new partners) to find a new way forward that takes into account the interests of all major powers.
With the right approach, the country can continue to shape the world order to its benefit. It will be a ride with ups and downs, political instability, economic disruptions, military confrontations, and the potential for chaos. So tighten your seatbelts, and bid farewell to peace. Prepare to perserve.