The Tempest Ahead

United Nations headquarters in New York City, USA

The pesky summer finally subsided and the war that ravaged the European continent came to an end. As soon as the victors got their breaths, they started nibbling the prize and divided the remnant of the world to suit their requirements-well, I am not talking about 1945 and the end of the Second World War. The time in question is 1814 when after the Napoleonic wars, the congress of Vienna under the leadership of Austrian chancellor Metternich attempted to devise a system of relative peace that would last for 100 years before the world plunges into another conflict called the great war or the first world war.

The congress of Vienna marked a shift in the manner of governance of the global order, with this the world learned the axioms of the status quo and maintenance of peace ensconced in the garb of amity and cooperation. This would soon to be followed by Pax Britannica, a term that colloquially attempted to highlight the British ascendancy to the global stage. Thanks in part to its industrial revolution and a constant stream of revenue fueled by its colonies. This period would see the British share of global GDP quadruple while slashing its former colonies to less than 75 percent of their former stature. Not to forget, the relative deprivation thence spread into the ‘new lands ‘were to continue for many decades to come.

Benefits of Pax Britannica?

For the first time, one single nation could steer the global movement of not just resources but also the ideas that will follow for many generations. Not only does the relative changes in demography, and the spread of the European race happen but also the establishment of trans-oceanic networks happened during this time. Notwithstanding, the chaos and associated penury that such a revolution brought it was also an era of relative peace which brought the economy front right and centre of the discourse of international relations which were to stay like that for many generations. However the tides were soon to turn, with the British losing the colonial possessions slowly one by one during the course of the two world wars, along with nearing its mainland invasion, during the second world war by Adolf Hitler, losing the jewel, India and suffering immense economic woes  made the system collapse, but unlike any other- Pax Britannica gave way to Pax Americana

A system where the hegemon was changed and the ball fell to the other side of the pond, slowly and gradually developed post-Second World War, the idea of Pax Americana assumed full-fledged shape after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The benefits of Pax Americana included universal cover for allies, a foolproof security apparatus and protection of the world catapulting the economy to the center of discourse and more than anything promotion of the idea of democracy. This was a stark departure unlike any other system Pax Americana also had the idea of promotion of democracy as its unprofessed goal, thanks to the might and muscle of the United States. However, it met with stiff resistance from the Middle Eastern nations. Besides the near-universal coverage of security made the Hegemon overstretch itself, beyond its capacity  And with the world advancing in the 21st century, coupled with the new ideas, the global leviathan’s role slowly and gradually started getting underappreciated and even disliked by most. Although it won’t be the right statement to say that at this juncture, the idea is dead but it’s certainly declining.

The idea of pax Americana is built on the crucible of dollar supremacy near universal presence on the global scale, both militarily and economically and above all a cultural acceptance of the American way of life notwithstanding its detractors. It’s still omnipotent however one should also consider the changes occurring in the idea itself. Pax Americana is slowly getting eroded with challenges from Moscow, Beijing, India, South Africa, even some voices in the continent of Europe.

As American hegemony recedes, the world is yet again, moving towards a flux and issue have seen before but unlike the past, the recrudescence of this flux will not be met by a new stable system but instead by disarray and confusion

Let’s imagine a world where Pax Americana has ended. Firstly, for that to happen, the United States and its image need to be completely dented destroyed or at least maligned to the extent that the American form of life becomes unpalatable. This is not going to happen soon democracy still remains the most palatable form of government and American consumerism is gradually engulfing societies. As we speak, the closest competition can come from Beijing. However, the picture is not as rosy as it seems, there were recent reports pointing out that the share of BRI expenditures across the globe having peaked in 2017-18 has dipped below the share of the World Bank.

The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan which for many experts created an opportunity for China didn’t materialize much and had been a no-brainer. China’s major ally in South Asia Pakistan is in a dilapidated state and its not so ‘ally’, India is rising at a tremendous pace. The next player Russia for that matter is also not capable of shouldering any such responsibilities. Its misadventure in Ukraine has snowballed into massive chaos. The Russian front, struggling to make ends meet and behind closed doors is backchannelling for a face-saving exit.

The other great powers, India, South Africa, France and Germany, and East Asian giants like Japan and South Korea for all their capabilities are still not able to shoulder the responsibility. In such a scenario, what will happen if the US were to lose its position? In my opinion, it would be replaced by a multilateral coalition of sorts of nations which would come together for issue-based partnership and involvement based on the mutual benefit era of transactionalism

However, this issue-based partnership and involvement would also be ridden with chaos and confusion primarily because it will not be possible generally to agree on everything. Thanks to nations’ geographies, diverse economies, and polity they cannot agree on mutual benefit partnerships all the time. sometimes there is a requirement for a rule enforcer-a strong hegemon. With the US out of the picture and nobody willing to take its part, it would be chaos. The United Nation in its current form would exacerbate the chaos, as it continues to reflect the realities of the Second World War. The newly minted powers of the Asian continent will slowly and gradually find it problematic to continue in the organization.

Unless the current wielders of power in the UN willingly cede some space to the new players, the organization would lose relevance sooner.

To top this the new and powerful challenges of artificial intelligence, powerful viruses, the re-emergence of asymmetrical warfare are slated to challenge the global order in ways never thought before

The current world is slowly heading towards a gruesome Tempest, a storm so unknown and lethal that it can torpedo organizations and nations in the process. Pax Americana though weakened remains the norm of the day, unless remodified in its format it is bound to be replaced by confusion and chaos, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Nikhil Khare

Nikhil Khare is an Indian RTS Officer

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