In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Need for Global Leadership

Posted by seumasach on November 22, 2008

Cailean Bochanan

22nd November, 2008

Born out of our opposition to Washington and London’s drive for global hegemony and the wars which stemmed from it, and have sought to highlight, above all, both the sovereign nation state, as a barrier to empire, and the emerging multipolar world order. There is now no doubt that this multipolar world order is now becoming a reality before our eyes. The latest NIC US intelligence assessement appears to take this fact on board. Or rather, it pays some lip service to it whilst actually gloating over the prospect of a world in which none of America’s competitors can displace it as global leader. One gets the sense that global anarchy is the prefered option now that the dream of global empire has perished in  Iraq and Afghanistan. In rather the same way the senatorial elite in the late Roman Empire reconciled themselves to the empire’s demise, even helping to bring it about by the look of it, confident that they could “handle’ the new Germanic kingdom’s and reinventing themselves as a feudal landowning class. Obama’s advent could well herald this new phase of US power: Obama the handler as opposed to Bush the bomber.

The descent into a sort of medieval chaos may appeal to the survival instincts of the Anglosaxon-oligarchy but it is not what we had in mind for a post-imperial, multipolar world order. The NIC report has highlighted not only a certain destructive mindset amongst the elite, but a real need in the partial vacuum  resultant from the eclipse of US power: the need for global leadership.

It is true that no single power can take on the role of the USA as global leader.  Nor is it desirable. We are, however, seeing some striking examples of leadership  from Moscow, from Peking, from Caracas and from Tehran. We are seeing growing regional groupings such as Mercosur, Asean, the SCO and Europe is gradually fumbling towards an independent foreign policy which will bury NATO. These groupings point to growing political and economic integration on a regional level. The new poles of the multipolar world are crystallising.

The new balance of forces has been highlighted by the urgency of the financial crisis. The G8 is dead: a fact of some importance which has received scant recognition from those who spent so much time protesting against it. G20 is a  definite advance and those twelve extra voices went a long way to preventing the summit falling prey to the Brown agenda  of reinforcing the IMF as an agency for global chaos. At least, I could find no evidence in its statement supporting the claims of some, mainly on the left, who seem to live in a permanent state of awe of US power, that the summit had indeed simply ratified  an IMF dictatorship. On the other hand, it is true that the summit failed to provide the leadership required in answer to the simple question: who is to to prevent entire nations sinking into economic chaos and how is it to be done? That there is a common interest in doing this is clear when we consider that the USA and Britain, the worlds most highly armed states, are leading candidates for economic implosion, paying , as they will, a terrible price for their  failed imperial project.

What we are seeing then is emerging and reemerging nations acting together as a check on US/UK power. They are also seeking to make their weight felt within international bodies such as the IMF. These bodies are a product of the post-1945 world in which the US was the leading power, checked to a degree by the Soviet Union until the collapse of the latter. The notable failures of these bodies reflects their distortion by a unipolar order. It is questionable whether, they can now survive at all,  and certain that, if so, they must be reformed root and branch. However, the multipolar world reality makes one thing as achievable as it is necessary: global institutions which genuinely reflect the diversity of the world and in which all nations will have influence.

That they must be representative doesn’t, however, tell us enough: the nature of these institutions must be considered. I doubt if it will be enough to think of Security Council plus 10, G 138, or whatever, etc. The post-imperial world represents a radical break from the past, well, two and a half thousand years, let alone the last sixty. The question of how to resolve global problems within a world of mutually balancing powers is a new one. I will return to this question in a future article.

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