A May 25th report from Russia’s TASS News Agency brings up a very interesting question: What will the role of the United States be in the century to come, and who will be the leader of the world if it is not the US? This report opines that an Asian century is looming, and that the coronavirus pandemic may actually be one of the factors influencing this change. TASS reports:
BRUSSELS, May 25. /TASS/. The world is currently witnessing the end of the US century and the rise of an Asian one, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Monday.
“First, we live in a leaderless world where Asia will be increasingly important – in economic, security and technological terms. Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes,” he told a videoconference with heads of diplomatic missions in Germany.
In his words, the novel coronavirus pandemic can be seen as a kind of accelerator of this process. “If the 21st century turns out to be an Asian century, as the 20th was an American one, the pandemic may well be remembered as the turning point of this process,” he explained.
“Demand for multilateral cooperation has never been greater,” Borrell noted. “But supply is falling behind. This is the first major crisis in decades where the US is not leading the international response. Maybe they don’t care, but everywhere we look we see increasing rivalries, especially between the US and China.”
“US-China rivalry is also having a major, often paralysing effect on the multilateral system: in the UN Security Council, the G20, the WHO and elsewhere there are many more disagreements and vetoes and fewer agreements,” he went on to say.
Apart from that, in his words, the pandemic has demonstrated that “the world is becoming more digital, but also more state-driven.” The problem of who would control digital networks and who would set the rules and standards is coming into the fore, he noted.
“Third, our globalization model is under pressure. We need a more strategic approach to managing vulnerabilities and dependencies,” he emphasized. “And last, the world risks becoming less free, less prosperous, more unequal, more fragmented.”
Mr. Borell is certainly onto something regarding the notion that the world is becoming more ‘state-driven’, if we understand this to mean that statism is becoming a dominant force. Even in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a suprising burst of statism at all levels. While some of this was reasonable to expect given the unknown and apparently dire state of the pandemic at the beginning, now that the crisis is passing the divide between ‘free states’ and ‘nanny states’ is extremely apparent.
However, Borell may not have all the pieces of the puzzle. He seems to indicate a level of support for strong centralized states such as China, as economic leaders, while ignoring the push for nationalism at a populist level, such as is often discussed by American speaker Steven Turley. Dr Turley does not advocate for another American century, interestingly. He does advocate along the lines of President Trump’s 2017 speech to the UN’s General Assembly, in which he described the United Nations not as a “one-world” government, but as the meetingplace of a brotherhood of nations, who each have their own people first, but who can work together.
It remains to be seen, because globalism is still something largely fought for in the world, and Mr. Borell may not have noticed that the Big Three actually are not in favor of one-world globalism at all. Russia and the United States both seek to preserve their autonomy in world affairs, while China sees the world as its customers (because they are!).
However, it is certainly likely that an Asian century is coming. It is not very much in the interests of many Americans to dominate the world, and once they realize that they do not have to do so, they will be more than happy not to take that job.
That is one of the reasons President Trump got elected.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.