chapter  1
18 Pages

International security, Great Powers and world order

Introduction This volume addresses the issue of strategic stability into the twenty-first century, its nature and likely future evolution. To that end the book identifies the United States, European Union, Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China and India as Great Powers. It provides a comparative survey of their approaches to a series of threats that are strategic in nature: environmental change and energy security; terrorism; weapons proliferation; and, fragile states, conflict and regional crises. After highlighting similarities and differences in these Great Power approaches to these strategic threats, we then conclude by considering whether we witness the emergence of a global security agenda based on nascent similarity across national policy agendas. This allows the conclusion to assess the prospects of policy coordination and effective collective action, and so characterize the nature of strategic stability and world order in the twenty-first century. Great Power status is attained through a combination of self-belief and declaration, as well as bestowed through acknowledgement and recognition by other Great Powers that states with this status have the military and economic capability to play a key role in international affairs, perhaps even to challenge the US’s superpower status in the short or medium term.1 The US National Security Strategy of 17 September 2002 and 16 March 2006 refers to Great Powers – the US, as well as EU, China, India, and Russia – as “centers of global power.”2 A 2008 European Council report on the implementation of the EU’s European Security Strategy of 2003 identifies the US as the “key partner for Europe.” At the same time, the report notes that the EU has “substantially expanded our relationship with China,” “Russia remains an important partner on global issues,” and that “there is still room to do more in our relationship with India.”3 The “New National Security Strategy of Russian Federation for the period through 2020” – adopted in May 2009 – notes that, while Russia will seek to build a strategic partnership with the US, the US remains Russia’s primary strategic rival. It emphasizes the need to expand partnerships with the EU as well as China, India and Brazil to promote a multipolar world which balances the US.4 Within its extended neighborhood, India seeks to balance China, Russia and the US in

political and hard power terms, and while European norms, concepts and ideas shape Indian behavior, India-EU relations “struggle to gain traction.”5 China seeks to balance India within its neighborhood and the US globally, and to that end improving Russian and EU relations are important. While exhibiting significantly greater power than others in the international system, there are obvious differences between these five centers. For some, China, India and Russia are understood to be rising powers, while the EU and the US (the old “political West”) are in relative decline. Three of the five – Russia, China and the US – are nuclear powers with seats on the UN Security Council (UNSC). India constitutes a non-UNSC nuclear state, while the EU has two nuclear UNSC member-states (France and the United Kingdom). Three of the centers are market-democracies (the EU, India and the US), while two are market-authoritarian (China and Russia). While “Centers of Global Power” is one way of designating Great Powers, the emergence of new, albeit often weakly institutionalized, frameworks suggests that the aspiration of cooperative international management is present in states whose weight makes their involvement indispensable. The G8 is primarily a Euro-Atlantic grouping, comprising the world’s major industrialized democracies: Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Canada, the US and Russia (though its market-democratic credentials are increasingly questioned), with the EU represented and Japan the only member that is not in the Euro-Atlantic area. A broader grouping is represented by the G20 countries, whose geographical and politico-economic composition, by contrast, is much more global in nature than the G8 and reflects a reduced role of Euro-Atlantic states. Another prominent grouping, which began life as a Goldman Sachs marketing tool in 2003, comprises the fast-growing developing countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – the BRIC states, which were predicted to form a powerful economic grouping that would surpass rich democratic states in the northern hemisphere by 2050, if not sooner.6 A newer grouping – the “Next Eleven” (or N-11) – is comprised of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. These states were selected as the next set of large population states with rapid growth potential, which could rival BRICs and G7 economies if growth continues. Will a predictable global order in our century be characterized by a one-world system, an interdependent liberal world order, characterized by interest-based incentives for cooperation which offer functional benefits to all Great Powers, and buttressed by multilateral partnerships in institutions (the UN, G20 and regional variants), regimes (e.g., arms control, climate, trade), shared global norms and strengthened international law? Within the return to the concert of Great Powers system, a division of responsibilities occurs according to resources, expertise and interest. Alternatively, rather than a new multilateralism and an era of global partnership, will current and emergent Great Powers develop an operational concept of world order that looks to enhance their order-producing managerial role in their near neighborhoods and project power globally through an executive agency

constituted by a G14 (consisting of the G7, plus Brazil, Russia, India, China and some of the N-11 states)? Will order be based on material power and the coherence of geopolitical-bloc formation, characterized more by hierarchy and balance of power principles than by interdependence structured around shared interests? If the latter, will Great Powers institutionalize their preferences in ineffective international institutions and organizations and adopt zero-sum thinking with regards to managing sources of insecurity? Do Great Powers want an enlarged role within the existing system, or to change the system itself? The norms, institutions and regimes represent the acquis of the international system through which the decisions are taken, implemented and enforced. It is, however, a challenge for the states that international law does not develop as flexibly as the international system, hence the change of the system (power relations) is only followed by international law with some delay. The centrality of states is apparent in the international system. States are the creators of norms and institutions; adjusting them to changed conditions and terminating them when necessary. Beyond the formal process, their significance is also dependent upon the importance attributed to them by states. If states decide to undermine institutions, readily accepting the violation of norms they themselves have generated, or hollow out international organizations they have established, then norms and institutions fall. Under the Westphalian international system between the mid-seventeenth and the late-twentieth centuries, the centrality of the state was unchallenged; this is no longer the case.7 In some circumstances, for example, inter-governmental organizations seek to assume the autonomous management of international affairs. In addition, the influence of non-governmental organizations is considered to be decisive in key areas of current international relations, not least: climate change, support to post-conflict peace-building and development processes, countering terrorism and organized criminality. Even select areas of arms control are among those where states and inter-governmental agencies have to acknowledge and take into account the influence of non-state actors. Norms, institutions and regimes are mutually linked. Regimes developed to govern and regulate key issue areas in international relations often begin life as soft mechanisms that gradually harden as their normative base (both legally binding and non-binding) is filled with substantive content, and as institutions associated with the regime are established and consolidated. While intergovernmental institutions are entitled to create norms, their “masters” – the states of which they are comprised – identify and define the areas where the organizations may establish norms and the nature of the regulation. When states entitle organizations to create norms, they are in effect giving certain autonomy to them. This freedom is controlled, however, and states can re-assert control when they are not satisfied with their creation, the international organization. Among the range of normative systems, international law is the best established, as it is the one that most resembles national law as far as the normative structure is concerned.8 Norms are based on a tri-pillar structure. First, a hypothesis defines the behavior to be regulated, then, a disposition – a “what to do” –

is followed by sanction if the disposition is not respected (i.e., if it is violated). Even though international legal norms broadly follow this structure, they are somewhat special. Critically, in the case of international legal norms, the states that create such norms are also responsible for implementing and enforcing them. States will not agree to norms that they do not want to implement, or introduce sanctions which would endanger their interests and undermine their power. The scope of international legal regulation is widening due to both the growing number of states and the intensity of interaction facilitated by technological development. In addition, international law is created by consensus and its sanctions regime continues to be inherently weak. This introductory chapter outlines key approaches to understanding international relations and the contested concept of security. To that end, it outlines the three main philosophical approaches to international relations that purport to explain how the world works – realist, liberalist and constructivist – and reviews their claims to constitute the basis of world order. It links these international relations approaches to changing perceptions as to what it is that constitutes “security” and “stability,” noting the transition from the classical realist Westphalian state-based conception of security to the wider military and non-military agenda of 1990s. The rise of key non-state actors such as transnational corporations, criminal networks, non-governmental organizations, religious movements and diasporas (to name a few) are best captured by the liberalist tradition. As we shall see, constructivism is a prism through which realist-constructivist or realist-liberalist approaches strive to better understand the role of status, reputation, prestige and identity, for example, in shaping world order based on the use of state-directed military coercive power (realist), as well as state approaches to the utility of international organizations, institutions and regimes (liberalist). The chapter then reviews and assesses a range of contemporary post-Cold War international security paradigms that map relations between key actors and claim to have explanatory power that accounts for world order. This chapter concludes by outlining the structure of the book, identifying the chapters and the key questions addressed within them.