A Multi-Polar World: The Solutions
As I previously have discussed in Part 1 and Part 2, it has become abundantly clear that the number one foreign policy challenge for the Western world in coming years will be learning how to effectively navigate a multipolar world which is dominated by not one or two but instead several major powers. This poses numerous challenges, not the least of which is that the Western world’s traditional networks of alliances and forums of international diplomacy were all intended to function upon the basic premise that America was the preeminent and unrivaled power on the world stage. This scenario is no longer the case, and adjusting to this new reality is of paramount importance for protecting our future interests.
The most immediate and pressing area that should be addressed is the redundancy of NATO in this new scenario. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created to protect its member-states from Communist aggression in a time when Europe was the central focus of world affairs. In the year 2015, Communism is dead and the main focus of both conflict and commerce has very much shifted to central and eastern Asia. NATO’s rationale ended with the Warsaw Pact, and the bulldozers that shattered the Berlin Wall similarly destroyed the sense of unity among its member-states. For the 21st century, a new association of allies is needed.
As a Canadian, my bias on the subject of a replacement leans heavily towards a closer union of the Anglosphere, as we have recently begun to refer to the nations of America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This central core of the English-speaking world would be the natural starting point for any new alliance aimed at mutual support against the threats of the 21st century. All five nations share a common commitment to similar values and beliefs, not to mention a shared language and history. We’ve fought together and bled together in previous conflicts for centuries, so there is no reason we should be unable to do so again against the new threats we face today. Whether it is done through a new formal alliance, an Anglo League for want of a better name, or merely an informal commitment to deeper coordination and mutual cooperation, the five main nations of the Anglosphere offer the best opportunity to form a new Western power union capable of working together for mutual benefit and defense of common interests.
But a new framework for cooperation is only of so much use unless the member-nations of it also adopt the necessary mentality that is required in this ever so unstable and ever so dangerous world we now find ourselves in. We have become spoiled, to put it simply. An entire generation has been born and come to manhood without ever knowing what real conflict and real danger looks like. This has afforded us the luxury of idealistic thinking in our approach to foreign affairs. From George Bush Jr’s project of exporting democracy to the Middle East (as if democracy was a franchise like MacDonald’s that could just open up a store and begin peddling its wares in an admittedly local variety) to Barack Obama’s vainglorious pursuit of a deal with Iran (despite undeniable evidence to the contrary that he is being played for a fool).
History has not come to an end, despite the arrogant prediction to the contrary, it has instead continued to roll on and on as it always has. Liberalism, freedom and democracy have not become the unquestioned tenants of the entire world. This is a reality we must face up to, however much progressive proles of modernity might wish to live in denial. This disconcerting truth requires an approach to foreign affairs that rejects utopianism and instead embraces a cold and calculated embrace of acting in our own interests. We must be prepared to do what is needed and not what will simply make us feel good about ourselves, very much in the tradition of Bismarck, Metternich and Richelieu.
If an example of why this is necessary is needed look no further than the fallout of the Arab Spring. When this latest example of the power of the populist mob began, many of my friends amongst the progressive left stood up and cheered. They saw it as a validation of their belief in the fundamental goodness of man, and how hope and good intentions can conquer the most vile of tyrants. A new era of freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East was just around the corner.
Except it wasn’t. Instead what was born of the Arab Spring was a Middle Eastern thrown into unprecedented turmoil and chaos, and from the gaping void created by the toppling of the old strongmen was born the death-worshiping butchers of the Islamic State. Bush was indeed right that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would inspire the Arab people to find their voice…but sadly what they chose to say was not particularly something we wanted to hear. Anyone who speaks honestly on the state of the Middle East today will acknowledge they long for the good, old days of stability and peace under the rule of the tyrannous Al-Assads, Mubaracks and Husseins of the past.
Readjusting our mindsets to this new reality will not be comfortable. It will require acknowledging we must sometime dirty our hands and do business with people we find unsavory. Indeed it will require us to recognize that in order to further our own interests we must sometimes thwart the interests of someone else. But readjust we must or the consequences will be dear. Other powers on the world stage are beginning to come into their own, and if we simply step back and surrender the field to them they will gladly step into the void. The West must continue to be a force that has some influence upon the events of the world or the world will be shaped into something we do not particularly wish to live in. Just because we are not willing to act will not stop Moscow or Beijing from doing so.
As tempting as it may be to simply hunker down and hope the whole mess that is the world today goes away that is not an option. Unless we are willing to simply surrender the world to the Vladimir Putin’s and Kim Jong-un’s of this world, the West must remain an active player in world affairs. Doing so will require both recognizing the new rules we must play by and assembling a team that is capable of playing. An empowered Anglosphere willing to act with both calculation and ruthlessness when necessary would meet both these needs. I hope we have both the foresight and resolve to do so. I fear the consequences if we do not.