September 24, 2007

Non-American networks: Opportunity or Threat

... new networks are for now, largely motivated by international trade, nevertheless concern is building that in a not too distant future, emerging powers will begin forming security and political relationships that on current evidence will test America’s capacity to adapt...

In this era of Globalization, multi-polar formations that defy existing U.S. power and authority are beginning to surface, and we can predict a future where U.S. pre-eminence may be challenged due to an array of international complexities in addition to the rise of new foreign connections that exclude it. Specifically of concern, are nation states joining to form economic and security arrangements that leave out and reject the interests of the United States. How does the U.S. counter this? It cannot resist these emerging trends with force, and in any event, even Americans currently lack the will for resistance of an imperialist nature. Policymakers in the U.S. must therefore accommodate such changes whilst balancing national interests against other global responsibilities.

Potential economic and military superpowers are beginning to emerge, and although none is yet, of its own volition sufficiently strong to offset American domain, Washington may be well advised to consider the prospect that they may soon combine to do so. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia is once again flexing its economic and military muscle, India its economic might and China all the above, in addition to building the foundations for a future dominating world role. Collectively, these developments in addition to new partnerships and networks, may begin testing the dominance of not just the U.S, but the fundamental G7 group.

The new networks are for now, largely motivated by international trade, nevertheless concern is building that in a not too distant future, emerging powers will begin forming security and political relationships that on current evidence will test America’s capacity to adapt.

BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, and China: The first two have enormous capacity as suppliers of raw materials while India and China are becoming the world’s biggest manufacturing economies. Global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs says that the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China is such that they will become among the four most dominant economies by the year 2050 with nearly 40% of the world's population and a combined GDP equalling 15.435 trillion dollars. On all tables, this would make it the largest entity in the globe.

IBSA – India, Brazil, South Africa: As new developing nations, this group is engaging to form a new platform for political and economic discussions to compliment there strong economies. Eventually, this will help consolidate their interests in trade negotiations previously controlled by the U.S.

SCO – Shanghai Co-operation Organisation: This group brings together Russia, China and some central Asian republics to discuss security concerns in central Asia. This is not a military bloc and to the U.S.’s favor, both Russia and China’s mutual suspicions are compromising its effectiveness. However, with Pakistan, India and Iran having observer status the foundations exist for a wider anti-America agenda.

European Union: Wealth, size, and economic output render this union a candidate for leadership; however, it is highly doubtful to coalesce into an anti American bloc. Moreover, a lack of internal coherence will limit its capacity to exert global influence of a dominating quality.

Iran: Aside from its nuclear ambitions, Iran is developing the world’s largest gas field with India in addition to meeting China’s rising energy needs with trade exchange growing by nearly 40% in 2006 alone. Opposition to the U.S. provides a basis to form closer relations with other anti American states including Venezuela and Cuba. Of significance, Iran and Venezuela are leading OPEC members giving them a significant capacity to exercise control in world oil markets.

Opportunely, there are competitive tensions between these states, tensions permitting Washington to play them off against one another at least for the time being. In due course, this may well change and how the U.S. confronts the challenge will determine whether such networks prove to be an opportunity or threat to its global dominance.

Your comments are most welcome...


lisa said...

great post Ott. How will the U.S. adapt? Perhaps that will be your next post? cheers

WomanHonorThyself said...

g'mornin!..all the more reason to fight our sworn enemies with all our might!

Debbie said...

I'm not an expert in this field by any means. But from some reading I have done, it seems China may be one of our biggest threats (in more ways than one), but especially in the field of world trade. We need to keep a very close eye on them.

Very nice post.

TRUTH-PAIN said...

Very deep and though-provoking post. Well done!

Robert said...

With so much anti-American sentiment, I have always seen a future US-European Union conflict on the horizon. With Russia asserting themselves again, I think that there is a huge bloc of countries that we will have to contend with soon.

Add to that the growing American desire to pacify the world and not be "unilaterally asertive" to protect our interests.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Great heavy stuff..thanks Otto

Paul Champagne said...

Competition should be welcomed in a free-market society. The thing is that there is no such thing as a "free-market". With government subsidies to Air-bus or child labor and protectionist tarrifs in China ... the United States must enact its' own protectionist measures in order to compete on a level field.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great blog! They are all a huge threat even though they are all in different ways. Iran tends to worry me a great deal especially along with Venezuela and Cuba!!

American Interests said...

Thanks to all for your comments and welcome Jennifer!

TRUTH-PAIN said...

After pondering on the general thesis of your post, allow me to offer the following possibilities:

1. As all things, the status of the U.S. being the preeminent power will decline, if not cease altogether. This is not a wish, but simply an extrapolation of the socio-political patterns of history. Countries grow and fade, population and cultural shifts dictate the movements and shapes of things to come. We should all be prepared to accept the fact that -although it may not happen in our lifetime-, there may be a time when the U.S. is simply A World power and not THE world power.

2. There will be micro-alliances that may cause more changes that the well-stated theories you espoused. Think of the power of a Bolivian-Brazilian-Venezuelan axis and its impact on South American economics. Or the forging of western European countries like the oil-rich Finland and Denmark (or Baltic States), with contries bordering the new Russia, trying to offset what they percieve as a neo-Soviet style threat from Putin and friends.

3. The permutations of possibilities are virtually endless. One can theorize ad-nauseam to any thread of thinking and go loony just conjuring action/reaction scenarios to the same. The Pentagon spends untold tens of millions a year to cover and plan for every possible event in the planet. So does the policy wonks at the State Dept,...imagine the headaches THEY get!

I think the planet and the people in it have shown an amazing ability to auto-correct themselves. The Earth has frozen and warmed for a billion years before us gnats even began thinking we own this 3rd rock from the Sun... and the Earth is still changing independent of the arrogance we show to our capability of doing it harm.... although the argument can be made that we do. The people of the planet have shown -if nothing else- a genetically-deep resilience in overcoming the challenges of whatever era they have witnessed; And this includes the changes that are the theme of this fine posting. Every Power from Rome to Greece to Britain has seen their fracture and demise. There is a natural inertia to events that cannot be controlled by politics or military will. It is, as they say, what it is.

Lastly,... Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame said it best.... "If you remove what is known as impossible from consideration, everything else -however improbable-, is possible"....

Anything can happen...

American Interests said...

TP: A perfectly compelling and bona fide set of probabilities.

The contribution of the United States over the past century is hard to overrate but no empire (I am still not sure whether the latter is an apt term but that’s another story) lasts forever and American power may have already surpassed its zenith.

Consolidation of power will require the U.S. to serve the international system through consensus but accomplishing this requires sensitive leadership and a very considered degree power. Consensus means literally agreement and this requires a balanced consideration of all participants not just those within an American administration. As Spock also said, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one”.

And yet in spite of this or anything else put forward, “anything can” indeed, “happen”.

Live long and prosper.

TRUTH-PAIN said...

As I view more of your past posting and commenters, I can see how I will be visiting you often,... just great fodder for though-provoking postings here.

Robert said...

As much a Star Trek fan as I am, I must take that comment from Mr. Spock and attribute it to Serlock Holmes, as written by Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle, I believe from The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier, among others:

"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

American Interests said...

Robert: Thanks for your input and what's next for Star Trek Fans?

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

TP had a point: "As all things, the status of the U.S. being the preeminent power will decline, if not cease altogether." And, eventually, the sun will go out.

In the meantime, at the risk of sounding jingoistic, I don't see America fading away anytime soon. Competition, unfair or not, has a wonderful way of focusing attention and motivating us.

I wouldn't call America an "empire," and I'm not at all sure that it's a "nation" in the traditional sense of the word (a group of people with common customs, ethnic origins, history, and generally language).

Although I haven't formalized the idea, I suspect that the United States of America is something new.

America is imperialistic only in the sense that it attracts people who are dissatisfied with their countries of origin, or prefer a place where they are allowed to succeed.

I do not believe that the current fuss about illegal aliens indicates that America is changing in being a magnet for self-starting, bright and ambitious people. There was quite a fuss when my Irish ancestors were elbowing their way into America, too.

American Interests, thanks for this post, and the analysis.