How is the world organized at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century? What is the structure and character of the geopolitical order that rules today? What elements is it made of? How was it formed? What can it become in the future? What factors drive these processes? These questions have been at the center of the problem and the issue of international relations since its establishment as a discipline and emerge with force today in view of the fact that the international scheme that took shape after the Cold War has been modified in the last decade by a series of events that have altered its structure and operating dynamics.
Keywords: world order, geopolitics, 21st century, post-Cold War, decade zero.
What is meant by world order?
However the central place from one principle has addressed this issue in the theory and practice of RI, they have so far been remarkably few attempts to define it. This is partly because, as Makoto Itoh pointed out, definitions of world order do not last long, since “History moves on very fast [so that] A definition […] becomes obsolete in just a few months” (Itoh, 1992: 197). It is also because, as Robert Cox observed, the concept is transhistorical in that given world order is always in place (Cox and Sinclair, 1996). Another reason, more fundamentally, seems to be, as Brown (2001) pointed out for the case of IR in general, the multiplicity of angles from which this question can be approached and the diversity of ways in which it can therefore be conceived.
In any case, the fact is that the absence of an adequate definition makes it difficult to study, understand and discuss this question since there is thus a lack of a notion that can serve as a common reference to study it so that the results can have a reasonable degree of validity and acceptance. In other words, in the end “[…] definitions do matter […] since ‘international relations’ do not have an essential character in the real world of those that may be able to define a discipline” (Brown, 2001: 1).
Despite these difficulties, however, several authors have tried to advance in this endeavor. In an article in which he disassociated himself from classical realism, Robert Cox established that:
“International relations” assume the Westphalian system as its natural frame of reference, which is no longer entirely adequate since there are forms of power other than state power that actively intervene in global relations. “World order” is [ a term] neutral with respect to the nature of the entities that constitute power [which] designates a historically specific configuration of power of any kind (Cox 1992: 161).
For his part, Rochester (1993) observed that the idea of world order has to do with the management of power (hegemony, balance, concert), the development and implementation of formal rules (international laws), and the creation of international organizations. Agnew and Corbridge (1995) went further by defining the concept of geopolitical order as the set of “routine rules, institutions, activities, and strategies through which the international political economy operates in different historical periods” (Agnew and Corbridge, 1995: fifteen). More recently Hettne (2004) established that world order is made up of three elements: structure, mode of governance, and form of legitimation.
Therefore, he distinguished between unipolar, bipolar, and multipolar structures, as well as between unilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral governance schemes.
The most elaborate definition is the one provided by Mikael Baaz, who argues that
The concept of world order summarizes the system of formal and informal rules that imparts certain legal conformity and predictability to national and transnational interactions that occur in the absence of the political framework and unequivocal authority that until now has characterized the sovereign nation-state in the Westphalian order (Baaz, 2005: 18).
In sum, as can be seen, each attempt at definition is, in effect, guided by a specific theoretical perspective and particular purpose that defines the angle from which this question is understood in each case, as with any other key concept in RI. . Therefore, each definition is formulated according to what its author understands by world order.
In this perspective, the definition proposed here postulates that the traditional notion of world order refers to an arrangement explicitly or tacitly agreed between the dominant powers, generally after a major conflagration, regarding the role that each of them must play. and the principles, laws, and institutions that will govern the relations between all the actors on the global scene during a given period. The terms of the said pact are defined in accordance with the balance that has been established between those powers at the end of the conflagration in question, in accordance with the military, technological and economic power that each one has reached, a balance that is later reflected in a given geopolitical division of the land surface of the planet. The original pact is then translated into a network of norms and conventions that allow the different actors to carry out an essentially civilized and peaceful coexistence during the said period.
As is evident, this definition, as well as the details that complement it, start from the premise that the object of IR as a discipline is no longer limited to political and diplomatic relations between sovereign states as dictated by classical realism, but today It also includes those that take place among the entire constellation of non-state actors that also populate the world scene today, as well as cross-border economic flows and the interactions that occur between them.
On this basis, it is, therefore, necessary to distinguish between world order (the one that governs between state and non-state actors), international order (that which operates between sovereign nation-states), and international economic order, which refers to the rules and principles of the agreement. with which countries interact in terms of production, finance, trade, and investment, as postulated by theories such as hegemonic stability.
TOP ILLUMINATI WORLD ORDER EVENT
1. The Great War
As history has shown, it is around the end of the great war conflagrations when a new geopolitical order is discussed, negotiated and finally agreed upon by the victorious powers based on the quota of power that each one has achieved and in line with their respective economic and strategic interests. More specifically, it is the leaders of those powers who define the terms of the pact and the contours of the new order.
When the end of the First World War was near, US President Woodrow Wilson formulated his famous “fourteen points” which he made public in a speech before the US Congress in January 1918 (Jackson and Serensen, 2003: 37). These points, which epitomized the liberal internationalism in vogue in those years, would later become the main guidelines of the Treaty of Versailles and later the core principles of the League of Nations, the organization that was created to implement and monitor the application of the said treaty.
In the same way, when the victory of the Allies was imminent in the aftermath of World War II, the leaders of the United States of America (USA), the Soviet Union, and Great Britain met in Yalta, Crimea, in February 1945. to discuss the end of the Pacific War and define the contours of the geopolitical order that would rule the postwar period.
The truth, however, is that the negotiations were conducted in accordance with the principles that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had established four years earlier and embodied in the Atlantic Charter, in which both statesmen summarized their vision of that order. They were also the ones who, in 1944, agreed to create a new institution based on these principles to serve as their anchor, which took shape years later under the name of the United Nations (UN) (Ikenberry, 1996).
2. The United Nations
Similarly, shortly before the War of the Gulf broke into history, Mikhail Gorbachev and George HW Bush made two separate calls to create a new world order to replace the bipolar scheme that had ruled for nearly half a century-long Cold War. Gorbachev outlined his proposal in a speech delivered in December 1988 to the UN General Assembly, in which he outlined the outlines of the new order and the principles on which it should be built (Isaacson, 1988). 2 Bush did the same in his speech “Towards a new world order” delivered before the US Congress in September 1990, in which he also spoke of Soviet-American cooperation, the incorporation of the USSR into international economic institutions and the end of the ideological confrontation. In this way, both statesmen shaped the way the world was to organize and function in the last decade of the 20th century.
3. Unipolar moment
As a result of the events that occurred in the Autumn of Nations, 3 which culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, as well as the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the so-called Cold War, which It had begun in 1947 with the violation of the Yalta accords by the Soviet Union, it came to an end. New world order was born as a consequence, which conservative American intellectuals and diplomats were quick to label as the “unipolar moment.” 4 Despite the enormous military and economic might of the United States, that moment turned out to be ephemeral; What actually took shape was a singular geopolitical arrangement in which, although the superpower that won the Cold War remained the undisputed hegemon, it soon had to share the hegemony and the military initiative with other powers. This unprecedented situation became apparent when George HW Bush decided to launch the War of the Gulf in the summer of 1990.
In general, the most significant thing about this episode is that it showed that a geopolitical order with everything and the web of norms, conventions, and institutions on which it is based, can be dismantled not only by a conflagration of global scope but also by social movements and incubated politicians within some of their leading countries. In the case of the Cold War, these movements were developed in one of the two powers that defined their bipolar structure and in countries that were within their sphere of power. This implies that the deterioration of living conditions and the lack of political freedoms, which were the ferment of these movements, were the factors that ultimately precipitated the collapse of that order.
4. The post-Cold War “disorder”
From an ideological point of view, the end of the Cold War marked the triumph of capitalism, the enthronement of Western democracy, and the defeat of real socialism. In the absence of a viable alternative, Western democracy was thus proclaimed as the universal norm of organization and political coexistence, and the market as the undisputed mechanism of social aggregation and the supreme principle of productive coordination in countries of all latitudes. A general euphoria invaded the world as a result, together with the firm belief that the simultaneous triumphs of capitalism and democracy were events inextricably linked to each other (Gunder Frank, 1993). The culminating expression of these emotions was the interpretation, by Francis Fukuyama (1989), that this double triumph was an unequivocal indication that humanity had reached the climax of its social evolution and that history had therefore arrived at its end.
However, as is well known, this overflowing triumphalism, especially the Fukuyama proclamation, was stripped in the following years by a torrent of criticism from academics and intellectuals from various backgrounds (eg Gunder Frank, 1993; Ravenhill, 1993; Cowling and Sugden, 1994; Huntington, 1993, 1998). Typifying these reactions, Gunder Frank pointed out that
Among the political-ideological positions not confirmed by reality is that of […] Francis Fukuyama […] The course of history, which is propelled by economic forces, shows that neither history nor his or our ideas of history — even of democracy — have ended (1993: 3).
From a geopolitical perspective, the end of the Cold War brought with it not only the end of the confrontation between the superpowers but also the reordering of the world map that had prevailed since 1945, the proliferation of new nation-states, and the emergence of new hegemonic powers. regionals such as Germany (in Europe) and Turkey (in the Caucasus and Central Asia). 5 As a consequence, the number of states (members of the UN) increased from 150 in 1979 to 180 in 1992 and new “regional super-states” emerged in Europe and North America (Nordenstreng, 1993: 461). The formation of these regional entities under the aegis of the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was seen as the West’s response to the power vacuum produced by the end of the Cold War ( Dobbs-Higginson, 1994) and as a strategy to facilitate the restructuring of capitalist economies and support regional integration processes in those continents (Itoh, 1992).
A paradoxical situation thus resulted in creating enormous potential for unprecedented cooperation, as well as an unparalleled ferment for renewed conflicts between the major powers (Rochester, 1993). This created an atmosphere of crisis and chaos that was described as the “post-Cold War disorder” (Anderson, 1992; Ravenhill, 1993; Drucker, 1994; Cox et al., 1995).
But there were other visions about this new era. One stated that
[…] the world order created in the second half of the 1940s endures, more extensive and in some respects more robust than during the Cold War […] The end of [this war] was not so much the end of world order but rather the collapse of the communist world in the context of an expanding Western order (Ikenberry, 1996: 79 and 91).
Another was in the sense that what was installed in the world in the 1990s was new imperialism, to the extent that “all the great powers pay to have the power that is, and always has been, necessary to maintain an imperialist order “(Steven, 1994: 295).
A more recent interpretation, from a Latin American perspective, was that at the end of the Cold War the decline of the international political system that was established in that period was consummated and the emergence of an international-global-regional political system began that was post-Westphalian in nature. in its first phase (as of 1993) and it became “retrowestphalian” as of 2001 (Rocha and Morales, 2008).
On the other hand, one factor that is said to most influenced the shaping of the order of the post-Cold War was the great civilizations that exist on the planet (Huntington, 1993, 1998; Cox, 1996; Strange, 1997). 6 This became evident when countries began to group around those that constitute the nucleus of their respective civilizations, and that the main groupings were no longer “the three blocks of the Cold War but the seven or eight largest civilizations. “(Huntington, 1998: 21).
In general, the order that emerged in the 1990s was shaped by an intricate set of factors of various kinds that combined in a complex process that culminated at the end of the Cold War and brought about the collapse of the bipolar order that it engendered.