Undoubtedly, the greatest paradox that represents the current key to understanding the world order is the US possession of strategic power elements that secures it the exclusive niche of the sole global power. Yet at the same time, it further secures the inability of that power to invest in the establishment of a coherent and stable international system under its control. In addition to America’s difficulties in the Middle East such as the failure of the Iraqi project and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the recent changes in Spain and Germany have denied the U.S two vital allies. The fact remains, with respect to Germany, that the discord with the former chancellor Gerhard Schroder was not as deep as that with the present chancellor Angela Merkel.
The main challenges facing the American strategy and administration however, remain focused today in two vital areas: the Southern belt of America including the Central and Southern Americas, and the Asian sphere with the rising powers of China and India, which observers consider the area that will define the future of the world order.
With the accession to power of the Aymara Indian Evo Morales in Bolivia, the breadth of opposition towards the US in Latin American countries has widened, overrun by a leftist current that has adopted the fight against unilateral imperialism against its strong northern neighbor. So now, we find the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez buttressing his local position after the December general elections. He directed his campaign with full power against “American imperialism” calling for the unification of Latin America in the face of American hegemony, considering himself a successor to the former Chilean leader Allende who was deposed by a CIA orchestrated coup in 1973.
In Brazil, Lola Da Silva whose leftist rule is somewhat close to the communists uses a radical revolutionary discourse not essentially different to that of Chavez. The same goes for president Nestor Kirchner of Argentina who opposes the “liberal economics” and the “dictatorship of the international monetary funds” that are sponsored by the USA. In Uruguay, President Tabare Vazquez is also becoming very close to the anti- American left.
In Mexico, the recent polls indicated a high possibility that the radical left represented by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the candidate of the Mexican Party of Democratic Revolution, may well be elected as president in next July’s elections. The same leftist trend is expected to win the upcoming August 2006 elections in Peru, and the November 2006 elections in Nicaragua. The left has already succeeded in Chile after the victory of an alliance of leftist parties led by the female leftist leader Michelle Bachelet in the general elections.
Thus, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro no longer remains an “isolated besieged monster” in South America. He now has a number of allies in a region that seems to be overwhelmed by a combined wave of leftist ideologies and powerful nationalist sentiments, and that focuses its attack on globalization.
In Asia, the marked trend is the regional alliance between China, India and Russia, the latter despite in Europe, plays a fundamental role in Asia. This alliance does not aim directly at challenging the USA however; it represents a new clear regional trend. The alliance seeks to revive the old Eurasian project that Russia aspired to. It also builds a global hegemony through an Asian wide partnership that will eventually attract the rest of Asia’s rising powers (including the 10 nations of ASEAN) that came together last December in Malaysia, in addition to India, China, South Korea, and Japan. The only matter that obstructs the expansion is the old and continuous Japanese suspicion of China and the consequent Japanese strategy to maintain its traditional allegiance to the USA.
The significant feature of this new reconciliation is the Chinese–Indian rapprochement, which has a strong potential for close alliance after the initial April 2005 settlement of border disputes. Such concordance between the two giants could radically alter the region’s strategic balance. Meanwhile, China and Russia are becoming closer through the agreement that they should confront the increasing American attempts to infiltrate Central Asia that started with the invasion of Afghanistan back in 2001. In this context, one could understand the Chinese decision to establish the Shanghai organization that included Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The differences between Russia and China on one hand, and the USA on the other hand concerning the Iranian nuclear crisis revealed the larger strategic differences between these powers in the Asian domain.
However, these Asian and Latin American trends could not yet indicate a new bipolar or multi polar world order. It merely reveals a world order of “varied circles of powers” that are still being established that is, a decentralized new world order to come. The conflict between traditional sovereignties of the nation, state on one hand, and the economic and strategic partnerships on the other, will play a decisive role in the new world order. In addition to this conflict, the cultural factors will also be influential.
It remains true to say that the USA still controls elements of strategic excellence and that its global position is secure, however, its administration of international crises has proven the limits to its role in forming and controlling the international system, which it has sought to build, since the end of the cold war. It has also revealed the American weakness in its ability in attracting nations to its value system, or what the American political science literature terms as the “American soft power.” This irony presents a complicated dilemma to the American strategic mind, which has only recently begun to break from the blow of September 11, which has imprisoned the mind within the limits of an extreme rightist discourse.