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Power Politics Still Matters

When the Cold War ended, a lot of smart people convinced themselves that good old-fashioned Power Politics was a thing of the past. As Bill Clinton said that when he had first run for President, the “cynical calculas of pure Power Politics simply does not compute. It is ill-suited to a new era“. Instead of being roiled by Power Politics, the world was going to be united by markets, shared democratic values, and the internet; and humankind would concentrate on getting rich and living well.

There is no mystery as to why this outlook appealed to Americans, who assumed this benign vision would unfold under Washington DC’s benevolent guidance. However, the last 25 years teaches the global community that this particular view was, as usual, premature, and Great-Power Politics has come back with a vengeance.

Of course, the US never abandoned Power Politics, and Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden emphasised the need to preserve the US’ position as the world’s most powerful nation. They understood that their ability to exercise Global Leadership would depend on US primacy and especially its privileged position as the only major power in the Western Hemisphere.

This position gives US policy-makers the freedom to wander around and meddle in lots of other places something they would not be able to do, if the US were weaker or if it had to worry about defending its own territory against serious dangers.

However, the US is not alone. China’s increasingly assertive policies toward its immediate neighbourhood shows that Beijing is hardly indifferent to Geopolitics, and Russia’s assertive defence of what it sees as vital interests in its near abroad (e.g., Ukraine) suggests that somebody in Moscow did not get the memo about the benign effects of Globalisation. Meanwhile, Regional Powers, like India, Turkey and Japan, are taking Traditional Geopolitical concerns more seriously these days.

The bottom line is: If one thought that Great-Power rivalry was a thing of the past, s/he should think again.

Source: Talk Diplomacy (Instagram)

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