The de-globalisation drive

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  • What is the world coming to?

Analysts and political scientists have sometimes talked about cycles of history. Even without delving deep into political theory and its constructs, a discerning mind can totally decipher that post 9/11 post 2007-8 capital crunch world has entered into a different phase. This phase is different from what we had seen in post-World War II world. The champions of liberalism yield less influence, and realpolitik and nationalistic values seem to be order of the day.

America that had generally been characterised as a left wing polity has taken up a totally new form. In the 20th century, despite its occasional spurts of interventionism, the US foreign policy generally had a philosophical angle. Highly concerned about its soft power, and being torchbearer of initiatives such as the Marshall Plan and Washington Consensus, at least on the surface US cared about the world. The foreign policy ideals were largely those that had been propagated by Woodrow Wilson in his famous fourteen points, in the wake of World War 1. However the US of today displays belligerence, challenges the very ideals that form the foundation of the United Nations Charter, has taken up the slogan America First, has decided immigrants are not her problem, has pulled out of Trans Pacific Partnership, is continually threatening to scrap the JCPOA and NAFTA; and the list continues…

What is it? The influence of Trump? Is America running a one man show? The answer is no. The rise of Trump to power marks something deeper, something frightening. It marks the rise of nationalism and a desire for de-globalisation in the US. Trump challenged the domestic and foreign policy status quo, and people voted for him. Hence the rise of Trump is a verdict by American people themselves that it is time to return to America’s isolationist and nationalistic past. A revival of Monroe Doctrine has taken place, this time not limited to the Americas alone.

In this age of hyper-nationalism and an era when the world has started feeling the need to revert to a multi-polar system, it is time for Pakistan to carefully calibrate its options

However, why are we discussing shifts in US policy to determine the cycles of history? Henry Kissinger in his seminal book Diplomacy has stated, “Almost according to some natural law, in every century there seems to emerge a country with the power, the will, and the intellectual and moral impetus to shape the entire international system in accordance with its own values.” And in the current time, it is America!

Nationalist fervour is very visible all over the world. The rise of Modi in India, the survival of Putin for so many years in Russia, China’s ambition to assert its greatness all over the world, the speeding up of North Korea’s nukes – all mark the rise of nationalism and paranoia on the part of states to strengthen themselves against potential aggression by other members of the international community. UK pulling out of European Union signals toward a revival of British Nationalist approach; in France, Emmanuel Macron won the day but there was a considerable number of people who still supported Le Penn; Japan, US and South Korea continue to ensure security of the Korean Peninsula but pacifists in Japan repeatedly raise concern over why Japan should be bothered about the security of South Korea; Mohammad Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia is bound to re-shape Gulf dynamics. And it continues; and endless list of red flags!

In this age of hyper-nationalism and an era when the world has started feeling the need to revert to a multi-polar system, it is time for Pakistan to carefully calibrate its options. Historically, Pakistan has chosen to align itself to a superpower, rather than form the part of traditional balance of power politics. Is Pakistan doing the same once again? Or aligning with China opens it up to new alliances including that of Russia and possibly with other members of SCO? And most importantly where do we see ourselves in the race of nationalism? Probably someone like Musharraf with Pakistan First would have been the ideal fit in this era. Unfortunately democracy has forgotten to produce any such nationalist. The nationalists that we see in Pakistan talk about provincial nationalism.

However, with the current political instability in-house, does Pakistan have what it takes to survive in this race of protecting nationalist agenda? Too bogged down in its internal musical chairs among various political parties and various institutions as well, apparently Pakistan has forgotten a vital principle; Survival of the Fittest.

Let’s see what the world turns to in the upcoming years, and how well can Pakistan become a part of this world.