The Free World at a Crossroads
We live in a time when confidence in global cooperation is at the lowest ebb and the idea of a global power is passé. World opinion is deeply multifarious, and the environment, democratic rights, population growth, religion, and poverty remain tough, divisive issues that will determine the future of war and peace.
The Cold War created a solid foundation of transatlantic enterprise, especially with the American-led NATO cooperation, and kept the world in order until the end of 20th century when a new, synchronized Europe emerged to uphold the continuity of prosperity and development created to rebuild the war-torn economies after World War II. For decades, NATO’s existence not only kept the Communists at bay but also opposed tyrants and authoritarian rulers attempting to defy international laws. But with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a transatlantic alliance was considered redundant as economic and geopolitical interests shifted elsewhere in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
The European Union came into being with the hope of forming an egalitarian society with a common economic and political agenda among its member nations. However, Brussels has yet to provide a fruitful economic framework that will work equally for the developed and developing E.U. nations. Individual member state’s economic imperatives have fragmented the fragile political unity that was still haunted by its pre-1945 past. Though powerful in number, the Union’s cohesion is damaged by divergent aims, and a single voice in foreign policy has yet to emerge.
The rupture between the United States and NATO’s major E.U. partners has cast a shadow in the Syrian crisis. The Western economy is weak and its people tired of fighting wars on foreign lands. The American shale gas boom at home has made U.S. policy makers increasingly less enthusiastic to engage in an oil-based military strategy in the Middle East. Some analysts predict, should current efforts fail, the United States will not engage in large-scale military intervention in Syria as jihadists tend to grab the opportunity when Arab regimes collapse.
In the U.N. Security Council, Russia wants to reclaim its lost glory as a major power broker while China, to match its growing economic clout, is pushing its new military might for greater international hegemony.
If the free world is no longer interested in policing the transgressions of dictators, what then? Will this vacuum be filled by authoritarian powers China and Russia who frequently encourage tyrants like North Korea, Iran, and Syria? The deteriorating force of America and splintered voice of the European Union can do little but sit on the sidelines as a new heterogeneous world emerges.
— Probir Kumar Sarkar, Executive Editor
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