The World Order: 2020

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There has been constant debate on what the world would look like decades down the lane. From the time of Roman Empire to the Sovereign States in Europe to the Communist Rule in Russia & China to the Dictatorships in Middle East, the world order has been constantly evolving. After every war or conflict, there emerges a new order for nation states. Hence it is imperative for any geo political analyst to study the relative strengths of nation/states, blocs & capture the broad trends before putting on canvas the big picture, as it is likely to emerge.
 
The world after 1st Decade of 21st Century stands at a cusp of time, where the traditional orders, dominations are about to be challenged & a counter narrative is building up. Like the post World War 2 we had the balance of power fluctuate between 2 blocs – Western Bloc & the Soviet Bloc; similarly we see a rise of a new consensus – the Beijing consensus that will be a turning point in decades marking the rise of People’s Republic of China truly as a Global Power challenging the Washington Consensus. But beyond this broad trend one must give a summary assessment of the effects of China’s Rise and Multipolar Organizations of BRICS & SCO on the Global Order in the coming decades.
 
We have already discussed the basis on which the New World Order would evolve in coming decades in this century i.e. “Spheres Of Influence” & how Global and Regional powers will project their economic & military might on the influenced states. On the basis of broad trends the world order would look the following in the decades to come.
 
The United States of America has in the last century played an important role per the important variable in how the world is shaped, influencing the path that states & non-states follow. Emergence of new players like China & India will be similar to the advent of United Germany in 19th Century & powerful United States in early 20th Century and will transform the geopolitical landscape with impact potentially as dramatic as those in the previous 2 centuries. A combination of high-sustained high economic growth, expanding military capabilities & large populations will be at the root of the expected rapid rise in economic & political power of the both countries. There are forecasts that by 2020 China’s GNP (Gross National Product) will surpass the individual western countries except the United States. Countries like Brazil & Indonesia’s economy could surpass some of the economies of Europe by 2020 barring cyclical booms & recessions.
 
European Order has evolved through centuries from Roman Empire to Peace of Westphalia to Congress of Vienna to Treaty of Versailles. However, The European Order has always faced a dilemma that when Germany is unified it is strong enough to dominate continental Europe & when divided it has been dominated by France who has historically been averse to Unified Germany. The European Order even today bears an uncanny resemblance to old equations as when the Berlin Wall came down; Germany was united after an agreement of it being a part of European Union assuaging the demands of France’s objections to United Germany outside a European Union. In wake of the Greek Crisis, Germany & France have turned to be drivers in Continental Europe dominating the southern European & Balkan states while United Kingdom across the English Channels has chosen to be ambivalent to EU just like it did for centuries before WW1. By most measures of market size, single currency, skilled labour & stable democratic government, and unified trade bloc an enlarged Europe will be able to increase its weight on the international scene. Europe will have to reform social, welfare, education & tax system and accommodate immigration from Muslim countries or face protracted period of economic crisis.  
 
Japan faces a similar aging crisis like Europe that could hurt its long-term economic recovery but also will be forced to evaluate its changing regional role & status. Japanese Parliament has recently passed a law that allows Japanese Military to engage in combat on foreign soil 70 years after the World War 2 ended. Tokyo may finally have to take a call on balancing against or jumping on the bandwagon with China & later is more than unlikely. The crisis in the Korean Peninsula is likely to peak in the next decade or two with Japan playing a pivotal role in that conflict zone. The sentiments of unification of Korea & Taiwan straits are likely to further complicate the regional equilibrium viz Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan & USA. The tense standoff among the regional players over the crucial region of South China Sea & China’s expansionist designs is bound to stir up the region already sitting on a tinder box. The United States is bound to play a crucial not only abating the Freedom of Navigation in South China for its Pacific allies but also having trade treaties with Pacific & South East Asian nations like TPP to counter China’s Sphere of influence. 
 
Russia has the potential to enhance its international role due to its position as a major oil & gas exporter. Russia plays a pivotal role in orienting the global order from Central Asia to Eastern Europe to Middle East as evident from the acknowledgement of Russia’s role by US in Iran Nuclear Deal. However Russia face severe financial crisis owing to crude oil glut, falling ruble and capital outflows. Russia also faces severe demographic crisis resulting from low birth rates, stagnating economy, Ukraine war & the extremist activities in Caucuses & the Central Asian states.  Social & Political factors limit Moscow’s role in the World Order yet it plays an important role between the established powers like US, EU & the emerging powers like China & India. Russia’s role in the world order has been quite paradoxical with periods when Russia retreats into its majestic isolation with the long spells of hibernation of the Russian bear, when awakened and on the move can move swiftly like a juggernaut. Russia under Vladimir Putin is being called a Revisionist Power aiming to recreate the Russian Empire.
 
The “Arriviste Powers” i.e. China, India & others like Brazil & Indonesia have the potential to render obsolete old categories of blocs & alignments. Some may see the closing gap with China, India & others as evidence of relative decline of the older powers though the older powers are likely to remain leaders. The US too will see its relative power and position eroded though it will remain in decades – the single most important country in world in power. China & India are well positioned to become the technology leaders & even the poorest countries will be able to leverage prolific and cheap technology from them. The expected next revolution in high technology involves Nano-, bio-, info & material technology and this could further bolster China & India. Europe risks slipping behind Asia in some technologies & US too though maintaining an edge will have to compete with Asian Giants.
 
Political Islam will have significant global impact leading up in the next decade with different groups rallying & creating a trans-national authority. The third wave of Democratization at the end of the decade may be partially reversed among former Soviet states & South East Asia while growing in the Middle East. Migrant Labour from North Africa & Middle East into Europe, Latin America, and United States will pose greater societal challenges to them. Various Maps in Middle East will change specially in Syria/Iraq where we will witness de facto trifurcation into a Sunni Iraq under ISIS, Shia Dominated Iraqi Govt & Kurdish Autonomous Region in north that will ultimately, in decades lead to creation of a Kurdish State “Kurdistan”. Libya & Syria as failed states will continue to be sores for the world abetting the Jihadist Groups; while Egypt will face threat from Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Arab states (GCC) & Israel will be involved in an arms race, proxy war with a Religious Theocracy like Iran and Jihadist Groups.
 
Chinese leaders will face a dilemma over how much to accommodate or risk popular backlash. Beijing may opt for elections at some levels while opting for opening of Chinese economy to foreign capital to fund its ever rising needs. The likelihood of a great power conflict escalating into a total war in next decade is very low. The Conflicts will become more regional in nature with great powers backing their respective sides. Countries without nuclear weapons especially in Middle East, North East Asia might decide to procure them as it becomes clear that rivals are doing so. 
 
Facilitated by Internet, Muslim Identity of radical Islam will spread inside & outside Middle East including South East Asia, Central Asia & Western Europe. The issues like Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir, and Mindanao & South Thailand will serve as stimulus to radical Islamic ideology. Informal network of charitable foundations, madrassas, hawala & other mechanism will proliferate to be exploited by radical elements. Within next decade Al-Qaeda will be superseded by similarly inspired Islamic Extremist Groups & broad Islamic movements will merge with locals. Training material, targeted guidance, weapons know-how & fund raising will be done virtually. Counter terror operations will need an overhaul with special emphasis on Cyber warfare & terror. The greatest danger is terror organizations acquiring biological agents or less likely a nuclear device or a dirty bomb affecting large populace.
 
Challenges will be daunting yet US will retain enormous advantages playing a pivotal role on economics, technological, political & military issues across Asia-Pacific & Trans-Atlantic. EU rather NATO will increasingly become the primary institution for Europe & the role, which Europeans shape for themselves on world stage. No single country looks within the striking distance of rivaling US Military Power in next decade though more countries could challenge it. The world order in coming decades is likely to become bi-polar again with US leading the Washington Consensus & China leading the opposite pole of Beijing Consensus. Ultimately this will lead to a Cold war Theatre in Asia Pacific & in the coming decades we could see India become a Frontline State challenging the Hegemony & Bullying of China regionally & globally. Things are starting to take shape with Indo-US-Japan tri-lateral partnership with talk of Australia joining in discussions. 
 
Many analyst give specific time lines but since World Order is constantly changing, it is difficult to define exact time lines but the broad trends can be captured. This change is not expected overnight; the World Order is rather built or transformed in years & decades. Even Recent events like Iran Nuclear Deal are just part of the process of building a new order over years & decades. Every event adds the to the sum total of ever changing geo-politics. This is how World Order could shape up to be in 2020 & the decades post that.

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