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A New World Order
September 14, 2023
Vladimir Putin upended the post-war world order and a new global governance system takes shape, propelled by rising middle powers India and Saudi Arabia. It’s messy but new approaches are needed as Russia ravages the global economy, flouts international laws, and neuters the United Nations created in 1945. Its General Assembly condemned Russia’s invasion in 2022 and demanded it leave Ukraine a year later, but nothing changed. This is because Moscow and four other World War II allies can veto any Security Council peace-keeping initiative. But another international institution was created in 1999, the G20, to address economic crises and foster economic and financial cooperation. But this year the leaders of China and Russia boycotted the gathering and its center of gravity began to shift to the Global South when the 55-member African Union was inducted as a member. The G20’s host, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, explained: “As the eight-decade-old model of global governance slowly changes, we should try to shape the emerging order.”
This new order is shepherded by India and Saudi Arabia. Both have undertaken immense and sweeping charm offensives and formed alliances with dozens of countries to do so. By contrast, Russia has been isolated and China’s status has been reduced because of its association with Putin, despite the fact that it has distanced itself from Moscow and stayed out of the war altogether. For instance, in January India organized the Voice of Global South Summit for 100 nations to address the war’s damaging impact on food, fuel, and fertilizer prices in developing nations. “Three-fourths of humanity lives in our countries,” said Modi. “We should also have equivalent voice.” The gathering was billed as a brainstorming session, but China was not invited, nor were any other nations in the G20.
Even Putin’s oil pal, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, just inked an alliance with China and Iran, and pursues another with Israel and the PLO to bring about peace. On May 19, the Prince invited Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to address the world’s Arab leaders where he described Russia’s mistreatment of tens of millions of Muslims who live inside Russia. Then, in August, Saudi Arabia organized a peace conference on ways to end Russia’s war. China and Ukraine and dozens more attended, but Russia was not invited.
The geopolitical shift also reflects a greatly diminished role for Europe, now embroiled in its third “world war” since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. This is hardly surprising. Britain exited and flails. France’s influence in Africa disappears. Germany’s industrial dominance shrinks. And the continent’s governance model, the European Union, remains complicated and cumbersome. There are 24 official languages, 27 nation-states, 3 in its extended European Economic region, and 8 more awaiting entry. Such fragmentation was fully exploited by Russia before the war. Moscow’s campaign of political meddling, corruption, disinformation, and poisonings was waged across the continent until, worst of all, Europe became reliant on Russian energy. This paved the way for the Ukrainian takeover attempt.
America once again — for the third time — had to come to Europe’s rescue by backing Ukrainian efforts to stop the Russians. And, after 18 months, Europeans are now contributing more financially to the cause than the U.S. and must continue to do so. NATO has risen to the task and going forward Europe must create a new security structure for itself. Once Ukraine joins the European Union, prospects will be greatly enhanced. Ukraine will bolster Europe with its army, Silicon Valley technology sector, military-industrial complex, agricultural wealth, and enough energy reserves to make the continent self-sufficient.
The recent G20 meeting in New Delhi provided a glimpse into this evolving geopolitical structure. Putin did not attend the G20 because his spokesmen said he “was too busy”. But his absence was due to the fact that he has been charged by the International Court with war crimes involving the abduction of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children during the war. This means, in New Delhi, he would have faced arrest and extradition to The Hague to stand trial. This global arrest warrant also prevented him from attending the recent anti-western BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] conference in South Africa or, in addition, will prevent him from attending the next one in Rio de Janeiro in 2024. BRICS was formed in 2008 as a rival to the G20 because these countries felt excluded from global decision-making. But its future is dim. Russia heads toward bankruptcy and break up while its two most active members, China and India, are rapidly becoming enemies.
China’s President Xi Jinping was also a “no show” at the G20. According to Nikkei Asia, he faces a challenge to his leadership as a result of the country’s political, economic, and social problems. The real estate collapse, high youth unemployment, and strained international relations present grave challenges to his government. “In summary, President Xi Jinping's surprising absence from the G20 summit in India is closely tied to internal political developments in China, as concerns about the nation's economic and social issues mount. This unexpected decision underscores the complexities facing China's leadership at this critical juncture,” wrote The Economic Times.
Another reason for Xi’s truancy may also be due to the possibility that he had gotten wind that the G20 was going to unveil the “India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor” -- an alternative infrastructure scheme to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Backed by India, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, UAE, the European Union, Italy, France, and Germany, the Corridor (IMEC) is a transnational rail and shipping route spread across two continents, designed to stimulate economic development, improve connectivity, and enhance economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf and Europe. It will improve transit between India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe.
This won’t match China’s New Silk Route, which has been underway since 2013 and is massive, but is a start. Beijing now has infrastructure deals in 150 countries and has built 3,000 projects at a cost of nearly $1 trillion. But this scheme has also created “debt traps” for nations that over-built and some are being crushed by massive debts to China that Beijing has refused to renegotiate.
What’s clear is that America’s stature remains intact, even ironclad, in Europe. Elsewhere its reputation has also been somewhat enhanced through broadening alliances with India in terms of trade, IMEC and the QUAD, a military structure involving Japan, the U.S., Australia, and several Southeast Asian nations. India has positioned itself as a “midwife” to help the West with the rest of the world. “A newly confident India is presenting itself as a different kind of leader for developing countries — one that is big, important and better positioned than China in an increasingly polarized world to push the West to alter its ways,” wrote The New York Times.
At the same time India also ascends. Its economy booms, it garners investment away from China, and this year it overtook Britain as the fifth largest economy in the world. Poverty rates decline and education opportunities for females increase. Its diasphora is capable and hugely impressive -- from Silicon Valley CEOs to the Prime Minister of Britain with Indian parents and the Vice President of the United States whose mother was from there. India ticks off all the boxes as it grows in importance: It is an English-speaking nation, a democracy, a free enterprise economy, a nuclear power, a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and has just become the fourth nation to reach the Moon, following the United States, China, and Russia.
On August 24, just before the G20 showcased its rise, India’s first spacecraft landed successfully on the Moon. On that same day, Russia’s latest effort crashed nearby.