America has been the uncontested leader of the planet for decades now. Some would say even from before the World Wars.
What does it mean to be a leader of the world though? In short, it means everyone looks up to you for guidance, follows you most of the times, and is also dependent on you to make the hard decisions for them.
And this is exactly how most of the world was operating – America was leading in literally every important aspect of humanity – culture, innovation, healthcare, infrastructure. All of these came together to deliver the most important metric – quality of life.
Pain and Anger
9/11 was the primary trigger that changed everything. After 9/11, the leader was hurt. They were in pain, and the rest of world was in pain too. Nobody likes seeing a good (some might say great) leader like America get hurt. And most countries supported their decision to retaliate – to annihilate the perpetrators of this crime on American soil.
That – was mistake number 1. The destabilization process had been kicked off. There had been war prior to 9/11, and after too. The difference was – American soil had never been hit prior to this. The leader’s office on the top floor of the skyscraper had been breached.
Prior to 9/11, American point of view when entering wars was to increase their power, always under the consideration that they were freeing the local population from their corrupt and useless leaders.
Post 9/11, the approach shifted to a show of power. Nobody likes a “show of power” – not even from their great leader. Even if they support it initially. The narrative shifted.
Beyond this, there were more mistakes made. The extended stay in many of the war-torn countries in the name of maintaining peace. And while doing so, trying to continue to threaten opposing economies with sanctions and armed retaliation.
A regular human can give in to pain and anger and retaliation.
A leader – not so much.
The loss of Faith
Overthrowing dictators who were on their own payroll, meant American back-channel diplomacy that was mostly hidden from the eye of the common public, was now in the open. Additional diplomatic channels had to be opened.
Spying became a much more critical activity. When spies become more important than armed personnel, you should know something is very wrong with your relationships.
Meanwhile, the emergence of China added to destabilization. The club of the 5 UN security Council superpowers was now split in 3 vs 2 – US, UK, France on 1 side and China, Russia on the other.
The process for any executive decision that would benefit the rest of the world became longer and tedious. And even when there was agreement, the resolution being passed was extremely diluted. To achieve any meaningful impact, became next to impossible.
The world was beginning to lose faith in its leader. And the United Nations.
While the leader was now no longer even at the level of showing power. The leader was now trying to protect its own commanding position in the world. While a New World Order emerged.
A multi-polar World
We live in a multi-polar world today. Many countries do not agree with the authoritative rule of the Americans; nor the Chinese; nor Russian. There is a formation of the global south – countries which have never felt the need to co-operate in the past. But they are now uniting because they feel unheard and without a leader.
In other words, we have various groups and individual nations pointing in different directions.
The Americans, still officially leading a section of the world called the “West” – including Europe, and Australia from the “East”.
There is BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – who claim to represent the Global South.
There is the Middle East and North Africa set of countries, mostly the Islamic world, which have a common agenda to survive continuous western attacks on their soil.
African Union is another one – clearly trying to finally get themselves out from the rule of the Western and Asian powers.
There are fractures within each of these big organizations – most of them are not in agreement within their own clubs. The leader of each club tries to set the agenda in most of these regional clubs. America, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil.
Some medium sized players like India, Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Italy are asking for a level playing field. Which is an illusion.
The reality is – these middle size countries, are asking for more power. Whoever pushes the hardest, will even get it. But change at this scale is a time-consuming process, since those in power have no intention to dilute their already diluted hold over the world.
Terrorism has led to a widely destabilized planet.
Prior to 9/11, terrorism was considered a local threat due to instability in various pockets of the world.
Post 9/11, the world understands that terrorism is a global problem. But does the world accept it – NO. There is no agreement on the definition of the word “Terrorism” within the United Nations.
Some countries still need to learn that using terrorism as a state policy for expansion will always come back to hit them hard.
NOTE: Country = political party that won the past election plus its army.
And why do countries use and spread terrorism in other countries –
Expansionist regimes – People desperate for money and power.
Defense personnel – People desperate for money and power.
Political Parties – People desperate for money and power.
The next Leader(s)
It will be a long time before we see another world leader emerge. The world was always multi-polar. And will be multi-polar in the foreseeable future too.
With the latest developments in West Asia and Eastern Europe, it is not possible that terrorism and war is going away anytime soon. Nor is it feasible to think that suddenly everyone will start to co-operate and behave nicely with each other in the next few years.
The era of America as a leader “seems” to be coming to an end. Will it end in reality? Should we hope for America to re-emerge as the undisputed leader of the world, and would that be the best-case scenario? Should we hope that some regional powers emerge and work together at a global level and this would be the prefect balance of a local and global scale? No one knows.
What we do know is – the world is looking for Leader(s). A person or a group of people who they can look up to for guidance. Who they can follow. Who they can depend on to make the hard decisions for them.
A new world order is in the making. Hope new world leaders emerge soon.