Several major trends will dominate the next two decades. There will be the continuous shift of economic and political power from Europe and to some extent from the U.S. to East and South Asia. But although Europe’s geopolitical decline will continue, it will remain a beacon of stability and a shining example of how the world could and should be governed.
Russia, after reaching a peak of its new influence in 2007-2009, will also face geopolitical decline, moving in the direction of becoming a resource and food subsidiary of Great China, Inc., with a risk, too, of cultural decline. Key factors will be:
• The U.S. continues to drift away from Europe towards the Pacific.
• The greater Middle East region remains dangerously unstable.
• Nuclear weapons proliferation persists.
The combination of climate change, scarcity of pure water increase of demand for food, energy and mineral resources is set to create a new global agenda, including competition for territory. So what model of governance for this kind of a world would be feasible, even if hard to envisage today?
In the field of economics and finance – a G2 of the U.S. and China leading the G20, or possibly a G3 that included the EU that would also lead the fight against climate change.
In the field of hard and nuclear security – an alliance-type relationship between the U.S. and Russia, moving towards a triangular relationship with China. And for "semi-hard" security – stability – a new euro-atlantic security alliance, or Russia in NATO, thus finishing the "unfinished cold war".
And a “Union of Europe” between Russia and the EU, with common human, economic and energy spaces – the only hope to prevent the further marginalisation of both while providing a third stabilising pillar for the future international order.
There should also be a new collective security arrangement for the larger Persian Gulf area, with nuclear guarantees provided to all countries of the region by the great outside nuclear powers. And the UN should stay, of course, with an enlarged Security Council and be a provider of common rules and a universal panel for debate.
// Published in "Europe's World", spring 2010