Are there any chances of a “concert” among the master states? – Club Valdaï
Despite the current concern of observers about the state of relations between major nations, the general development of international politics gives a relatively optimistic impression. First, because the question of how close the great world powers are to a new interpretation of reality takes on dimensions that are not only speculative, but also practical.
This is of course true for the United States, which has yet to get used to the fact that the international order can be the product not of its own power capacities, but of the recognition of the strength of other global players. However, even admitting the idea that the foreign policy behavior of the Democratic administration is a form of tactical play may lead to the development of a more adequate comparison between the United States’ opinion of itself and public opinion. that they have around them. Despite the fact that the rhetoric of US foreign policy often remains based on illusions, the practical actions of the US government are often consistent with the demands of reality.
In the event that the new international order acquires a relatively stable form, its uniqueness, compared to all the previous ones, will turn out to be that it will not result from an agreement between the winners. At the same time, like the two previous orders – following the Yalta conference and the post-Soviet liberal conference – this order will exist “in the shadow” of a permanent cold war between the nuclear powers. In addition, it will also contain very unique features inherited from the previous historical era or associated with new technological advancements. First of all, we can talk about preserving the practice of permanent alliances and the division of the world like the platforms of information and communication technologies. At the same time, as one can hope, both could become a tool for smoothly dismantling the globalization to which we have become accustomed for 30 years.
Recently, the state of international politics has indeed given reason to believe that the desire of the United States, and the West as a whole, to regain their dominance is starting to fade. First of all, this is confirmed by the spread of unilateral economic pressure measures (the so-called “sanctions”) and trade wars. The increasingly active use by the United States and its allies of its privileged position in the global economy as an energy resource reflects a loss of confidence in the prospects of its own leadership. This hegemony in relations with the powers, whose military victory is impossible because of the nuclear factor, was only possible under conditions of cooperation and institutionalization of relations. But the refusal to cooperate, like the destruction of the institutions of globalization, means first of all the renunciation of the prospects of hegemony.
Therefore, an incredible amount of highly qualified research into the problem and characteristics of so-called sanctions policy can be supplemented by an analysis of how it reflects the general development of international relations. In fact, measures that undermine globalization indicate a willingness to sacrifice the possibility of arranging it in a way that is mutually beneficial. Instead, the United States and other Western countries are just trying to gain unilateral advantages. This, for all specific costs, can be taken as a good sign; a movement towards an international policy of checks and balances, which does not imply the unconditional domination of a group by force. This is what Russian diplomacy has constantly insisted on for many years, because it can become the basis for deeper working relations between the powers. In this regard, it already makes sense to speculate on what characteristics the structure of the world might have in a few years.
First, the new international order cannot be a repetition of the “concert” of powers that we have known since the 19th century, even in edited form. For the independence of a certain number of large and important states will remain limited by the conditions of their relations with the United States, even if these relations will weaken. If in the case of Europe it is still possible to speak of relative strategic autonomy, then for Japan the fear of China is so strong that it paralyzes any capacity that Tokyo would otherwise have to play an intrinsic role in politics. global. But even countries like Germany or France, although they are now able to defend their private interests within the common chorus of allies of the United States, will in the near future be confronted with such internal upheavals that they will not have time for independence in foreign policy.
In reality, only three powers are ready to deal with the international policy of the balance of power: the United States, Russia and China. First, because their power capabilities somehow eliminate the need for allies upon which their security would otherwise depend. Even China, which is still militarily weaker than Russia and the United States, is too big to have allies. Therefore, today it is very difficult to imagine which countries other than these three could form in the future a formal or informal structure of international governance.
Second, the relations between powers will probably never be spared by constant small and medium-sized clashes. These skirmishes will be the result of their constant desire to test the limits of their own power capacities. We can already count several geographical areas where Russia, China and the United States can enter directly or indirectly into conflict with each other, which each time will be fraught with escalation into a more serious conflict. In conditions where conflict, mutual sanctions or local wars are part of diplomatic practice, it would be somewhat naive to assume the likelihood of permanent solutions. This is why there are already very convincing attempts to draw the attention of the governments of the great powers to the need for a more coherent approach to the question of the management of conflicts between them and the creation of the rules of the game in an environment where competition and clashes are part of everyday relationships.
Third, the dynamics of the importance of middle powers such as Turkey, Iran, Japan or Saudi Arabia remain uncertain. In the context of the collapse of the liberal world order, these states have been able to significantly increase their own prominence in the politics of stronger actors and have practically left their shadows. But it is completely unknown how long their success will last under the new conditions. We cannot exclude that as the new international order takes shape, the space for maneuver and the capacity of these States to defend their own importance, their interests and their values gradually diminish.
Finally, an international order based on a balance of power will remain marked by ideological differences linked to the internal development of its main actors. So far, these disagreements appear in a somewhat grotesque form, for example the idea of an “alliance of democracies” promoted by the American administration. But in the future, differences on fundamental questions could prove not only to be a factor of power politics, but also to be of a more fundamental character. So far, one can interpret the ideological plots according to which there is a gap between Western countries and the rest of the world in the categories of the power struggle, where each seeks to dominate, both by force and over power. this ethics. . However, if in the future the United States and Europe really experience a restructuring of societies comparable to the Reformation era, then views on people-to-people relations in the West and in the East may turn out to be completely opposite. So far, it still looks like a by-product of the general crisis of the existing market economy model.
It is certainly very early now to speculate on what the new international order will look like. But the processes and phenomena that we observe convince us that it will be much more flexible, free and, at the same time, confrontational than we would like from the point of view of the adhesion to the permanent statutes.