The world is rapidly entering an era of “revenge”. Two main vectors converge: from the East and South. On the one hand, Asian powers – China, India, Russia – are striving to take a strong position in the World Order. On the other hand, a diverse group of developing or emerging countries in the Southern Hemisphere is increasingly demanding a new place on the world stage, writes Spanish ‘El Pais’.
Their capabilities and approaches are different, but the common denominator is the desire to overcome an unsatisfactory, sometimes humiliating past, that requires changes and compensation, as well as historical revisionism. Most of these demands, reproaches and even grievances are directed to the West, which has been the hegemon for too long.
This movement is not new, but it is gaining speed and intensity. China and India are stronger today than at any time in centuries. In general, “non-aligned” countries have more weight today than they did half a century ago. Let’s look at the developments.
After defeat in the Cold War, the collapse of the USSR and the brutal crisis of the 90s, Russia pulled itself together at the beginning of this century. Since 2007 – after Putin’s famous speech at the Munich Security Conference – Moscow began to signal dissatisfaction with the development of international relations and a desire to maintain a sphere of influence in the face of panic in post-Soviet countries that sought unification with the West. The Kremlin’s confidence in its strength and capabilities grew, so it sent troops into Georgia (in response to the massacre of its peacekeepers in South Ossetia), advanced into Syria, expanded its influence in Africa and launched a special operation in Ukraine in February 2022.
Thanks to high rates of economic growth and favorable geopolitical position, India is increasingly asserting itself on the world stage. It has attracted the West as a ‘valuable ally in the confrontation with China,’ demonstrates significant technological capabilities through its space program and boasts a large young population. The country’s government is developing a policy of “Indian nationalism” and seeks to consolidate its place in the world. In particular, it is trying to establish itself as a spokesman for the interests of the Global South. The country’s history also provides political impetus. One example is the attempt to adopt the ancient Hindu place name Bharat as the sole name for India.
China is certainly at the center of a great movement to restore international balance. The enormous economic and technological growth of recent decades underlies the country’s new position on the world stage. Beijing is proud to restore its historical status as a great empire. China is putting economic and infrastructure initiatives on the global chessboard and is trying to create new alliances that could outweigh those around the United States. The recent move by Beijing and its allies to expand the BRICS group is a sign of the accelerated development of its plans to rebalance the world order.
Movement from the East is joined by movement from the South. These forces are more fragmented, since the initiative comes not from powerful powers, which, as in the case of China and Russia, support each other politically, but from dozens of countries with heterogeneous political and economic situations. However, there is no doubt that they are increasingly united precisely thanks to the activities of states such as India and Brazil, which are trying to weave a new world wide tissue.
The West is the main addressee of this desire of the Global South for change, for it to gain new positions on the world stage and for revenge. Over the entire history of Western hegemony, many problems have accumulated in the world.
It is understandable that many people react with irritation to the fact that we, Europeans, are demanding that the whole world take responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine, while in the past we have ignored many unpleasant and difficult situations – Iraq, for example… But that’s not all the complaints.
The West is more to blame for environmental pollution than anyone else. It has not been particularly generous in providing medical care during the pandemic. If we go back a little, the echoes of US machinations still make themselves felt, for example, in the case of the coup in Chile, the 50th anniversary recently celebrated. You can also look at Europe itself, its colonial history and the role it plays today in regions such as the Sahel.
The West’s responsibility for what it has done is great, so the rest of the world is striving not only for change, but also for revenge.
Now it is important for the West to establish a reasonable balance in international institutions, primarily economic ones, to take on a significant role in correcting the situation with climate change and honestly accept multilateral processes.