The end of cold war resulted in a world that was unipolar and led by the 20th century’s lone superpower – the US. Although the US retains its superpower status in the 21st century, it is no more the only superpower in this current complex world. While the US is currently facing a lot of challenges from different adversaries that are increasingly challenging its position as the dominant-most player in terms of global geopolitics, the US has started to get its acts together in responding to these challenges.
US’S GLOBAL RIVALRY WITH CHINA & RUSSIA
Since the interests of both Russia and China are in conflict with that of the US in respect of global geopolitics & geo-economy, the US has been allegedly attempting to keep China and Russia in check through making the neighbourhood of these two countries instable.
While the US still remains the spearhead and the major campaigner of the current capitalist world order, China is consistently challenging this very position of the US. From China’s recent moves, it seems that China, alongwith Russia, is engaged in reshaping the world order with the intension to replace the US as the major campaigner of the current capitalist world order. China-led new financial institutions (AIIB, NDB of BRICS and the likes) are posing a fresh challenge to the western-dominated financial institutions (World Bank, ADB, IMF and the likes), through which the US has been dominating the global economic system since the end of the Second World War, and this dominance remained unchallenged since the end of the cold war. The China-majored BRICS bloc is likely to pose a threat to the image and global influence of the G7, which is the economic alliance of the western great economic powers alongwith Japan. The US and China are also frequently coming face to face in South China Sea, over which China (on one side) and US’s allies Vietnam, Philippines & the likes (on the other side) claim sovereignty. Moreover, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), spearheaded by the US and China respectively, the two sides are using these free trade agreements (FTAs) to benefit themselves and keep each other out of their respective regional economic arrangements in the Asia Pacific region.
At the same time, the US has been imposing economic sanctions on Russia, whose stable existence in Eurasia would mean end of the US hegemony in Europe and ‘no entry’ for the US in Central Asia. Syria and Ukraine are the two heated-points where proxy wars are ongoing between these two military superpowers and, at worst possible circumstances, such a conflict may trigger direct confrontation in future between these two military powers, leading to a third world war. Russia is an integral part of almost every institutions, alliances and frameworks that is led by China in order to counter the US’s global influence. Besides, Russia itself is also spearheading Eurasian Economic Council (EEC), which is intended to integrate the economies of the region into one fold. Both Russia and China are the leading members in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that may well be compared to the Warsaw pact that was formed to counter the threats from the NATO. With regard to establishing a Sino-Russian political order, China and Russia may well have the secret ambition to shape the SCO as a potential organization to counter the threats posed by the present-day NATO.
BRAZIL & SOUTH AFRICA
Brazil is seen as the driving economy of Latin America. Brazil has been on the bright side of social and economic development for last one decade. Its economy has improved astonishingly in just a decade, making it the largest economy in Latin America. Brazil is one of the top economies in the world. This progress was possible only because of its non-biased politics that is independent from any foreign influence or pressure.
South Africa has also been walking the same path as Brazil. It has experienced a massive industrialization in last two decades, making it one of the two largest economies in Africa and it ranks well among the top world economies.
Both Brazil and South Africa have been actively participating in all the platforms initiated and led by the Sino-Russian political orbit in order to reshape the world order that is currently led by the US. More interestingly, Brazil and South Africa are among the five countries in BRICS bloc that is actively working to reshape the current world order. Brazil and South Africa, under the leadership of Dilma Rousseff (already impeached) and Jacob Zuma respectively, were known for their policies that do not heed to the western influence and, at times, such policies go against the interests of the West.
Brazil and South Africa have been showcasing their ability to host big conferences and big world events. Both of these countries in recent past have hosted world cups. Showcase of the economic progress of these two countries has been at the peak during the tenures of the above mentioned two leaders.
However, in Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff has been impeached recently on unverified charges, ignoring the fact that she came to power through legitimate means under the Constitution of Brazil. It alleged from many Latin intellectual corners that Dilma Rousseff had to pay the cost of favouring the Sino-Russian political orbit and of being pro-BRICS.
As for South Africa, increasingly the government of Jacob Zuma has been facing immense challenges internationally and domestically. He recently survived an impeachment effort and there is every possibility that more of such impeachment efforts against him might take place in near future. Like Dilma Rousseff, Jacob Zuma’s pro-BRICS sentiment and his closeness with China & Russia are, as alleged by many African intellectual corners, the genuine reasons behind the attempts of ousting him from presidency.
There are widespread allegations that the western governments worked hard to agitate both politicians and people against impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff – which ultimately led to her impeachment. Similar allegation is being heard regarding current South African President Jacob Zuma that the west is working hard to oust Jacob Zuma by agitating both politicians and people within South Africa against the President. True or not, atleast such an allegation against the west exist in global political scenario.
CUBA & IRAN
The US has signed an important nuclear deal (in 2015) with Iran; the same Iran on which the US has kept its sanctions imposed for more than three decades. The US-Cuba relations also moved so far as opening embassies on each other’s soil; the same US and Cuba that were sworn rivals in terms of ideological shape up of state, society and economy.
Why did such sudden change happen in the US’s ‘Cuba policy’ and ‘Iran policy’?
The US has been simultaneously maintaining sanctions on Cuba, North Korea and Iran for decades. For the US, keeping countries like Iran and Cuba as adversaries would push them to slip into the Sino-Russian political orbit paving way for the inception of the Sino-Russian capitalist world order. The US simply cannot afford to let such a catastrophe to happen. Realizing this very reality, the US has signed the nuclear deal with Iran and moved ahead with the attempt to normalize the relations between the two countries.
Such a change in policy is analogical to the fact that US’s today’s global rival China was US ally during the Second World War when US had severe enmity with Japan; the same Japan whom US considers today the most important ally in Asia-Pacific region in order to tackle China. Likewise, improving US-Iran ties has been creating distance between the US and Saudi Arabia, the same Saudi Arabia that had been an integral part of US’s policy of economic sanctions to isolate Iran.
- The global political scenario is changing rapidly with new players emerging at the scene. New players are increasingly challenging the superpower status of the US. That is why the US had to push for a lot of changes in terms of its foreign policy that is reflected in its alteration of relations with Iran and Cuba – from standoff to normalization.
- Surely it is in the best interests of countries like Iran and Cuba to avoid any sort of full alignment with any of the two major global-blocs and to play one superpower bloc against another in order to earn economic and political leverages from both sides.
- As for Brazil, Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment has put the country into a different direction. There is every possibility that Brazil, within a short period, might make massive changes in its foreign policy, turning the prevailing anti-west foreign policy fabric into a welcoming one for the west, especially for the US.
- As for South Africa, its fate is currently attached deeply with President Jacob Zuma. If he remains in power, the country is likely to lean more towards the Sino-Russian political orbit, and hence, lean more towards BRICS. If he is ousted or impeached from presidency, South Africa may lean towards the west bloc, changing the country’s decade-long foreign policy.
Bahauddin Foizee is an international affairs analyst, and writes on Middle Eastern, greater Asia-Pacific & European geopolitics. Also a campaigner for environmental and social awareness, Bahauddin Foizee occasionally writes on environment and refugee issues.