The multi-polar international system which emerged at the end of the World War II has been characterized by the balance of power system between the great powers.
However it lasted not long because a bipolar structure prevailed with the Cold War era. In the post-World War II period, a process that can be described as the victory of liberal democracies started, but it was suspended due to the tension between the USA and Soviet Russia.
The period between 1945 and 1990 is known as a period when communist and capitalist ideology clashed under the leadership of the US and Soviet Union forces. Cold War Period (1947-1991) was the period in which two ideological blocs led by two superpowers (USA and Soviet Russia) dominated politically, economically and militarily until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
During the Cold War, there was no use of open military force. The Cold War process actually emerged as a result of complex intersection of political developments between the USA and the Soviet Union. The leaders of both superpowers sought peace; however, while doing so, they never gave up their own ideology. During the Cold War years, the tension between the Western bloc countries and the communist Eastern bloc clustered; it sometimes decreased and sometimes increased but continued.
The structure of the international system after the Cold War was announced by the US President George Bush on March 6, 1991 under the title of “new world order” during the Gulf War when the Soviet Union was not officially dissolved yet. In his speech, Bush emphasized “freedom, free market economy and human rights”. In the aftermath of the Cold War, in the absence of a second superpower, the US described some states that did not conform to democracy and human rights values as “bandits”. The “new world order” for which USA intervened in some regions for “democracy” began to prevail.
With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Eastern bloc, the bipolar international system has turned into unipolarity and the USA has emerged as the only superpower. It is known that in a unipolar system, the power of a state is not balanced and controlled by other states. This unequal distribution of power has allowed the hegemony of USA to influence and shape the rest of the world for many years.
As known, the post-Cold War period became unipolar and with the dissolution of Soviet Union new states were established. USA has become the global hegemonic power. The US sovereignty prevailed in the unipolar years. Although the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were a threat to the USA they did not change USA dominance in world politics. On the other hand, Obama was elected as the new president in 2008 and American politics have gone through an important change with Obama rule.
The world system which had a unipolar character between 1990 and 2008 turned into a multipolar system in the period after 2008. The rising power of China and the European Union are other actors of the multipolar system against the USA. In today’s multipolar world, China and Russia reinforce their strategic density by strengthening both geopolitically and economically. It can be said that China has increased her power in world politics in terms of economy, military, geopolitics and technology. China’s military and economic power have increased significantly especially after the Cold War. In addition, the Indian factor is also important, as China and India are constantly being viewed as new global powers in recent years.
China has an important role in the perception of multipolarity that got stronger after 2008. In addition to China’s geopolitical dominance of the South China Sea today, it is the country that has made the largest investments in the African continent and strengthened her presence in the Middle East as an example of this role. The globalization factor has also been important in the transition to a multi-polar world order. In the globalizing world, states have become more interdependent and interconnected.
It is possible to define multipolar systems as systems in which there are more than two blocks or coalitions. In today’s world of multi-polar system, it can be said that countries are trying to be superpowers in line with their own interests rather than blocking.
On the other hand, after the Coronavirus epidemic, the interdependence and need for cooperation of states increased. It is known that the first case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) was recorded in Wuhan, China, in December last year. The threat posed by the pandemic has shaken even the “super power” USA economically. The country with the highest number of cases has been USA.
It can be said that, there are various arguments that the multipolar order brings stability. There are also those who argue that the multipolar structure does not bring order, opposing the view that a balance of power is formed and offers stability in the world. History has shown that multipolarity is more unstable and war prone than bipolar or unipolar systems. For example, the modern history of Europe has been characterized by many multipolar periods during which there were also wars.
As a result, it can be said that, in today’s political structure, there is no single actor which dominates the world. Like the collapse of the British Empire, the US hegemony has been shaken. The Coronavirus has also caused a major suffer in both economic and social realms for USA. The future days will show how USA will go through the elections and much analysis seems to be made by political commentators.
This article is also available on WGI.WORLD
Author : Begum Burak