Jan 25 2007
How Power has Shifted
By Chris Littlecott
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Written from the World Economic Forum in Davos, his view is that
The unipolar moment of US supremacy has passed. Power is now diffused between multiple states and groups.”
The two major trends shaping the current international system are, in his view, the “Asian renaissance and energy race”. The latter in particular is gifting influence to a new category of “explotiative powers” - the major exporters of oil and gas.
After also discussing the influence of terrorism and the “15 minutes of power” granted to individuals by the internet, his final three paragraphs go a long way to setting out the challenge that must be responded to by the emerging New Foreign Policy. I think they are worth copying in full:
So the new power equation is a complex differential one. This also means that the world is more difficult than ever to “manage” in the way envisaged by the architects of the post-1945 international order. (States themselves are also becoming more difficult for governments to manage internally, and for some of the same reasons.) The existing international institutions no longer reflect today’s complex realities. This world cries out for new structures of global governance, but the very multi-level, multipolar diffusion of power makes that harder to achieve.”
According to a report in the International Herald Tribune, a couple of years ago the National Intelligence Council of the United States played through a number of scenarios for the world in 2020. The only reasonably attractive option was one in which multiple powers addressed global challenges jointly with non-state actors. They called it “Davos world”.”
The real question is not whether such a world is desirable but how it might be achieved. In economics, there is a mechanism for coping with worldwide complexity: regulated markets. They do the job inadequately, of course, and often unfairly; but for now, they still do the job. There is no equivalent mechanism to address the new worldwide complexity of politics. Simply saying “reform the UN” or “reform the WTO” won’t get us far. Here is the next great challenge, revealed by the mountain-top camera of Davos.”
Here at E3G, we are continuing to work on a programme of activities which can help governments and others to respond to this challenge. More details will follow over the coming months.