Media Link: The Hamas-Israel War as a Global Catalyst.

Readers will recall that I have been writing about the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity in international affairs since the inception of this blog. Although still in progress, that realignment has pretty much proven true but not in the way I and others assumed that it would. Rather than a move to a system dominated by several Great Powers balancing each other on specific policy issues within a common institutional framework, what is emerging is two competing constellations of States joined by non-State actors such as high technology firms and various ideological proxies and surrogates. These blocs are not formal alliances but instead are loose networks of actors that share perspectives and values on the world order. One defends the current status quo, the other does not.

The one that does not represents the post-colonial Global “South.” The one that does represents the liberal internationalist order created by and for imperialist/colonial and neo-imperialist/post-colonial Northern powers beginning in the 17th and continuing well into the late 20th century. The Global South bloc is led by Russia and China, who beyond their Northern locations trade on their revolutionary legacies of the 1950s through to the 1990s, when they supported resistance and liberation movements against colonialism and imperialism across the globe. The Global South bloc includes other members of the so-called BRICS (Brazil, India and South Africa), to which will be added Argentina, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen next year.

The intention of this emerging constellation, which also has North Korea, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia and several Sub-Saharan African States as potential members, is not so much to push a Southern Hemisphere outlook on world affairs but to create a parallel institutional edifice that will eventually replace liberal internationalist institutions as the main conduits of international exchange. Things like the Belt and Road Initiative, growth of the China Development Bank as a rival to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the move to use the Chinese Yuan as a reserve international currency rather than the US dollar when providing loans to infrastructure development projects, as well as the proposed move to create a BRICS currency that will rival the Euro and US dollar, all are part of replacing the Western-centric institutional framework with a more “South”-centric organisational apparatus.

In this week’s A View from Afar podcast Selwyn Manning and I discuss how the Hamas-Israel war is a precipitant for the consolidation of this new type of bipolarism–two multipolar constellations competing with each other on numerous geopolitical fronts. Although it is still too early to see the final configurations of these blocs and whether they will translate into rival security alliances down the road (with all the dangers that entails), we try to explain how shifting perceptions on the global “street” (as opposed to between governments) are laying the foundations for a fundamental shift to the new systemic alignment.

2 thoughts on “Media Link: The Hamas-Israel War as a Global Catalyst.

  1. Basically all the university people that I’ve asked about the prospects of BRICS to be or to become a challenge to the liberal international hegemony still do not see BRICS (and even the establishment of non-dollar trading mechanisms) as having a serious potential to upset the apple cart, yet. ….
    However, that was before the recent summit at which it was decided to begin developing processes to admit new members. However, I still fail to understand why those distinguished university notaries couldn’t have seen it coming..?

  2. William:

    I think that the answer lies in two things. First, that the diversity amongst the founding members (BRIC) in 2008 would impede broad collaboration beyond basic trade within the membership bloc, to which was added internal political instability that impeded consistent and enduring policy-making. The addition of South Africa in 2010 only added to that view. But now, with the US in decline and exhibiting grave internal fractures, with India and China on a rise trajectory and Russia successful so far in challenging international norms on conflict (including using the Wagner Group as proxies) and Europe and other democratic countries divided on how to respond to its aggression against neighbours (which began in Georgia in 2008), there appears to be a shift on the part of both authoritarian and democratic countries of the “South” towards challenging at least some aspects of the liberal institutional order. So the academics may have had a point to begin with (one that I shared), but circumstances have changed and opened the door to new possibilities. Whether they are realised at all, or at least in a constructive way, remains to be seen.

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