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The Next Global Superpower Isn't Who You Think

Ian Bremmer | TED

By Shaimaa SHERIFPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
The Next Global Superpower Isn't Who You Think
Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash

The world is now faced with a significant question: Who holds the reins of power? In the past, answering this question was straightforward. If you belong to the generation above 45, you experienced a world where two dominant forces, the United States and the Soviet Union, dictated the course of events. This created a bipolar global landscape. Conversely, if you are under 45, you grew up in a post-Soviet era, where the United States emerged as the sole superpower, exercising not only its influence over global institutions but also its raw power. This resulted in a unipolar world. However, approximately 15 years ago, the dynamics became more intricate. The United States progressively distanced itself from its role as the world's policeman, the architect of global trade, and even the advocate for global values. Other nations rose in power, enabling them to disregard rules they found unfavorable and even establish new ones.Three main factors have contributed to the current geopolitical tensions. Firstly, Russia's exclusion from Western institutions has caused frustration and anger as the country experiences a significant decline in power. Secondly, China's integration into US-led institutions was based on the assumption that they would adopt American values as they became wealthier and more influential. However, China's distinct identity has remained, leading to discomfort on the part of the United States. Lastly, globalization has left many citizens in wealthy democracies feeling marginalized and ignored, resulting in a sense of illegitimacy towards their governments and leaders. These three factors account for over 90% of the headlines driving geopolitical conflicts today, ultimately creating a leaderless world. However, this state of affairs is not expected to last. The future will bring a different world order, one that is not bipolar, unipolar, or even multipolar. Instead, there will be three distinct orders, partially overlapping, with the third order holding immense significance for our lives, beliefs, desires, and actions. Currently, we have a global security order where the United States and its allies hold the most power. The US possesses unmatched military capabilities, allowing it to deploy soldiers, sailors, and equipment to any part of the world. China, on the other hand, is primarily focused on military growth in Asia. This has raised concerns among American allies in the region, leading to increased reliance on the US for security. With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European allies have also become more dependent on the US and NATO for protection. While Russia and China possess nuclear weapons, the fear of mutually assured destruction prevents their use. As a result, the global security order remains unipolar and is likely to remain so for the next decade. In addition to the security order, there exists a global economic order characterized by shared power. While the United States maintains a strong position in the global economy, it cannot assert its military dominance to enforce economic decisions on other countries.

The economic interdependence between the US and China is particularly significant, with trade relations currently at their peak. Other countries seek access to both the US military and the Chinese market, which is projected to become the largest in the world by 2030. The European Union, with its largest common market, sets the rules that businesses must adhere to for profitable ventures. India and Japan also play substantial roles, and the relative capacities of these economies will fluctuate over the next decade. Consequently, the global economic order remains multipolar. The tensions between the global security and economic orders are evident as the United States utilizes its military power to influence economic decisions on a global scale. This is exemplified in areas such as semiconductors, critical minerals, and potentially even in the case of TikTok.

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