As the world reels under multidimensional challenges of wars, migrations, pandemics, climate change, recession, food security and inequality, it may be interesting to listen to some wise men on where we are heading as global community.
An important discourse in Council for Foreign Relations was held on 30 September this year which included a heart to heart talk with the legendary Dr. Henry Kissinger. Dr. Kissinger’s recent book ‘Leadership, Six Studies in World Strategy’ also came under discussion. Dr Kissinger opined that current leadership of big powers and regional powers need to revisit history to draw pertinent conclusions in handling the challenges faced by humanity. Dr Kissinger is an exponent of multilateralism and acknowledging that US-China and Russia could look for a strategic mechanism, where the balance of power was maintained to steer the world from chaos. During a recent interview with Bloomberg, Kissinger warned Biden against endless confrontation with China and felt sorry that European leaders have lost continent’s sense of direction.
Kissinger at 99 and with vast experience in global diplomacy has seen the writing on the wall and suggested a more saner approach for great powers to avoid further chaos.
Vijay Parshad and Noam Chomsky have come up with a new book on geopolitics with the title the ‘Withdrawal; Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power’. While writing the foreword for the book Angela Y. Davis opines that Chomsky and Prashad have interrogated key inflection points in America’s downward spiral: from the disastrous Iraq War to the failed Libyan intervention to the descent into chaos in Afghanistan. As the final moments of American power in Afghanistan fade from view, this crucial book argues that we must not take our eyes off the wreckage—and that we need, above all, an unsentimental view of the new world we must build together.
Liberation news’ review of the book describes that the U.S. government has destroyed cities, countries, and towns around the world, through bombs and air raids, military ground invasions, naval attacks, economic sanctions and strangulation, coups, and more. Some say U.S. force is never ending; others say it’s on a fast decline, almost gone forever. Vijay Prashad and Noam Chomsky argue in this book that U.S. military might is somewhere in the middle: it’s fragile.
Kishore Mahbubani is another sane voice from Singapore and is widely acclaimed as someone from Global South who has independent views on rise of Asia vis-a-vis the West. His latest book; ‘Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy’ is widely popular in east as well as the west. Kishore Mehbubani believes that the grand context between China and US will be in terms of high technology, President Xi is very much aware of that and is focused like a laser on winning this crucial war. Referring to Wall Street Journal , Mahbubani quoted that Chinese Scientists’ research effort now surpasses that of North America and Europe combined and Chinese have developed a capacity to outpace western scientists in almost every field. Mahbubani also feels that while Chinese are focused on their long term objectives, US doesn’t seem to have a long term strategy to deal with China. US cannot derail Chinese economy, it cannot overthrow the Chinese Communist Party, and it cannot isolate China, so all combined, there is nothing much the US can do to. Mahbubani has suggested a multilateral strategy for the US and the west to keep China engaged and even constrained; while emphasizing the need for coexistence.
Another great voice in international relations is University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, in an interview with Al Jazeera few weeks ago he opined that the United States is principally responsible for creating the crisis in Ukraine and it has no current interest in reaching a negotiated settlement now. Mearsheimer sees US sanctions against Moscow as an attempt to knock Russia out of the ranks of the great powers. The way he sees it, the US has declared war against Russia, in effect, but the Ukrainian people are doing the fighting.
Based on the advice from these wise men, we have drawn some conclusions that we present to our readers for analysis and comments.
The global scene in next two decades will probably be shaped by six major factors; One, will China keep rising at current pace, two, what will be US policy in dealing with its challengers, benign or hawkish. Three, will populism lead to dictatorial tendencies in mature democracies; four, what trajectory is followed by middle level powers and regional players of the developing world like Brazil, India, Turkey, Iran, Vietnam, Poland, Nigeria, South Africa, KSA, Indonesia and Pakistan. Five, how will emerging technologies impact war and peace. Six, can the world avoid a major war after Russia Ukraine war and seven, how will the strategic contest between Eurasia and Indo-Pacific shape the global environment?
While the space does not allow debate on each of these six factors, these questions could be reviewed in the light of advice from the wise men as discussed in this paper. If the humanity has to come out of current strategic crisis, it needs to listen to these wise men, before it’s too late.