DB106 1. “What is the responsibility of Christians with regards to geopolitics and the mandates of the Gospel? Chapter 1
The New Era in World Politics
DB106 1. “What is the responsibility of Christians with regards to geopolitics and the mandates of the Gospel? Chapter 1
The New Era in World Politics
INTRODUCTION: FLAGS AND CULTURAL IDENTITY
On January 3, 1992, a meeting of Russian and American scholars took place in the auditorium of a government building in Moscow. Two weeks earlier the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and the Russian Federation had become an independent country. As a result, the statue of Lenin which previously graced the stage of the auditorium had disappeared and instead the flag of the Russian Federation was now displayed on the front wall. The only problem, one American observed, was that the flag had been hung upside down. After this was pointed out to the Russian hosts, they quickly and quietly corrected the error during the first intermission.
The years after the Cold War witnessed the beginnings of dramatic changes in peoples’ identities and the symbols of those identities. Global politics began to be reconfigured along cultural lines. Upside-down flags were a sign of the transition, but more and more the flags are flying high and true, and Russians and other peoples are mobilizing and marching behind these and other symbols of their new cultural identities.
On April 18, 1994, two thousand people rallied in Sarajevo waving the flags of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. By flying those banners, instead of U.N., NATO, or American flags, these Sarajevans identified themselves with their fellow Muslims and told the world who were their real and not-so-real friends.
On October 16, 1994, in Los Angeles 70,000 people marched beneath “a sea of Mexican flags” protesting Proposition 187, a referendum measure which would deny many state benefits to illegal immigrants and their children. Why are they “walking down the street with a Mexican flag and demanding that this country give them a free education?” observers asked. “They should be waving the American flag.” Two weeks later more protestors did march down the street carrying an American flag—upside down. These flag displays ensured victory for Proposition 187, which was approved by 59 percent of California voters.
In the post-Cold War world flags count and so do other symbols of cultural identity, including crosses, crescents, and even head coverings, because culture counts, and cultural identity is what is most meaningful to most people. People are discovering new but often old identities and marching under new but often old flags which lead to wars with new but often old enemies.
One grim Weltanschauung for this new era was well expressed by the Venetian nationalist demagogue in Michael Dibdin’s novel, Dead Lagoon: “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” The unfortunate truth in these old truths cannot be ignored by statesmen and scholars. For peoples seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world’s major civilizations.
The central theme of this book is that culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilization identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War world. The five parts of this book elaborate corollaries to this main proposition.
Part I: For the first time in history global politics is both multipolar and multicivilizational; modernization is distinct from Westernization and is producing neither a universal civilization in any meaningful sense nor the Westernization of non-Western societies.
Part II: The balance of power among civilizations is shifting: the West is declining in relative influence; Asian civilizations are expanding their economic, military, and political strength; Islam is exploding demographically with destabilizing consequences for Muslim countries and their neighbors; and non-Western civilizations generally are reaffirming the value of their own cultures.
Part III: A civilization-based world order is emerging: societies sharing cultural affinities cooperate with each other; efforts to shift societies from one civilization to another are unsuccessful; and countries group themselves around the lead or core states of their civilization.
Part IV: The West’s universalist pretensions increasingly bring it into conflict with other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China; at the local level fault line wars, largely between Muslims and non-Muslims, generate “kin-country rallying,” the threat of broader escalation, and hence efforts by core states to halt these wars.
Part V: The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal and uniting to renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies. Avoidance of a global war of civilizations depends on world leaders accepting and cooperating to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics.
A MULTIPOLAR, MULTICIVILIZATIONAL WORLD
In the post-Cold War world, for the first time in history, global politics has become multipolar and multicivilizational. During most of human existence, contacts between civilizations were intermittent or nonexistent. Then, with the beginning of the modern era, about A.D. 1500, global politics assumed two dimensions. For over four hundred years, the nation states of the West — Britain, France, Spain, Austria, Prussia, Germany, the United States, and others — constituted a multipolar international system within Western civilization and interacted, competed, and fought wars with each other. At the same time, Western nations also expanded, conquered, colonized, or decisively influenced every other civilization (Map 1.1). During the Cold War global politics became bipolar and the world was divided into three parts. A group of mostly wealthy and democratic societies, led by the United States, was engaged in a pervasive ideological, political, economic, and, at times, military competition with a group of somewhat poorer communist societies associated with and led by the Soviet Union. Much of this conflict occurred in the Third World outside these two camps, composed of countries which often were poor, lacked political stability, were recently independent, and claimed to be nonaligned (Map 1.2).
In the late 1980s the communist world collapsed, and the Cold War international system became history. In the post-Cold War world, the most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political, or economic. They are cultural. Peoples and nations are attempting to answer the most basic question humans can face: Who are we? And they are answering that question in the traditional way human beings have answered it, by reference to the things that mean most to them. People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions. They identify with cultural groups: tribes, ethnic groups, religious communities, nations, and, at the broadest level, civilizations. People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.
Nation states remain the principal actors in world affairs. Their behavior is shaped as in the past by the pursuit of power and wealth, but it is also shaped by cultural preferences, commonalities, and differences. The most important groupings of states are no longer the three blocks of the Cold War but rather the world’s seven or eight major civilizations (Map 1.3). Non-Western societies, particularly in East Asia, are developing their economic wealth and creating the basis for enhanced military power and political influence. As their power and self-confidence increase, non-Western societies increasingly assert their own cultural values and reject those “imposed” on them by the West. The “international system of the twenty-first century,” Henry Kissinger has noted, “… will contain at least six major powers — the United States, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, and probably India — as well as a multiplicity of medium-sized and smaller countries.”1 Kissinger’s six major powers belong to five very different civilizations, and in addition there are important Islamic states whose strategic locations, large populations, and/or oil resources make them influential in world affairs. In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilizations. The rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations.
The Fading of the West: Power, Culture, and Indigenization
WESTERN POWER: DOMINANCE AND DECLINE
Two pictures exist of the power of the West in relation to other civilizations. The first is of overwhelming, triumphant, almost total Western dominance. The disintegration of the Soviet Union removed the only serious challenger to the West and as a result the world is and will be shaped by the goals, priorities, and interests of the principal Western nations, with perhaps an occasional assist from Japan. As the one remaining superpower, the United States together with Britain and France make the crucial decisions on political and security issues; the United States together with Germany and Japan make the crucial decisions on economic issues. The West is the only civilization which has substantial interests in every other civilization or region and has the ability to affect the politics, economics, and security of every other civilization or region. Societies from other civilizations usually need Western help to achieve their goals and protect their interests. Western nations, as one author summarized it:
• Own and operate the international banking system
• Control all hard currencies
• Are the world’s principal customer
• Provide the majority of the world’s finished goods
• Dominate international capital markets
• Exert considerable moral leadership within many societies
• Are capable of massive military intervention
• Control the sea lanes
• Conduct most advanced technical research and development
• Control leading edge technical education
• Dominate access to space
• Dominate the aerospace industry
• Dominate international communications
• Dominate the high-tech weapons industry1
The second picture of the West is very different. It is of a civilization in decline, its share of world political, economic, and military power going down relative to that of other civilizations. The West’s victory in the Cold War has produced not triumph but exhaustion. The West is increasingly concerned with its internal problems and needs, as it confronts slow economic growth, stagnating populations, unemployment, huge government deficits, a declining work ethic, low savings rates, and in many countries including the United States social disintegration, drugs, and crime. Economic power is rapidly shifting to East Asia, and military power and political influence are starting to follow. India is on the verge of economic takeoff and the Islamic world is increasingly hostile toward the West. The willingness of other societies to accept the West’s dictates or abide its sermons is rapidly evaporating, and so are the West’s self-confidence and will to dominate. The late 1980s witnessed much debate about the declinist thesis concerning the United States. In the mid-1990s, a balanced analysis came to a somewhat similar conclusion:
[I]n many important respects, its [the United States’] relative power will decline at an accelerating pace. In terms of its raw economic capabilities, the position of the United States in relation to Japan and eventually China is likely to erode still further. In the military realm, the balance of effective capabilities between the United States and a number of growing regional powers (including, perhaps, Iran, India, and China) will shift from the center toward the periphery. Some of America’s structural power will flow to other nations; some (and some of its soft power as well) will find its way into the hands of nonstate actors like multinational corporations.2
Which of these two contrasting pictures of the place of the West in the world describes reality? The answer, of course, is: they both do. The West is overwhelmingly dominant now and will remain number one in terms of power and influence well into the twenty-first century. Gradual, inexorable, and fundamental changes, however, are also occurring in the balances of power among civilizations, and the power of the West relative to that of other civilizations will continue to decline. As the West’s primacy erodes, much of its power will simply evaporate and the rest will be diffused on a regional basis among the several major civilizations and their core states. The most significant increases in power are accruing and will accrue to Asian civilizations, with China gradually emerging as the society most likely to challenge the West for global influence. These shifts in power among civilizations are leading and will lead to the revival and increased cultural assertiveness of non-Western societies and to their increasing rejection of Western culture.
The decline of the West has three major characteristics.
First, it is a slow process. The rise of Western power took four hundred years. Its recession could take as long. In the 1980s the distinguished British scholar Hedley Bull argued that “European or Western dominance of the universal international society may be said to have reached its apogee about the year 1900.”3 Spengler’s first volume appeared in 1918 and the “decline of the West” has been a central theme in twentieth-century history. The process itself has stretched out through most of the century. Conceivably, however, it could accelerate. Economic growth and other increases in a country’s capabilities often proceed along an S curve: a slow start then rapid acceleration followed by reduced rates of expansion and leveling off. The decline of countries may also occur along a reverse S curve, as it did with the Soviet Union: moderate at first then rapidly accelerating before bottoming out. The decline of the West is still in the slow first phase, but at some point it might speed up dramatically.
Second, decline does not proceed in a straight line. It is highly irregular with pauses, reversals, and reassertions of Western power following manifestations of Western weakness. The open democratic societies of the West have great capacities for renewal. In addition, unlike many civilizations, the West has had two major centers of power. The decline which Bull saw starting about 1900 was essentially the decline of the European component of Western civilization. From 1910 to 1945 Europe was divided against itself and preoccupied with its internal economic, social, and political problems. In the 1940s, however, the American phase of Western domination began, and in 1945 the United States briefly dominated the world to an extent almost comparable to the combined Allied Powers in 1918. Postwar decolonization further reduced European influence but not that of the United States, which substituted a new transnational imperialism for the traditional territorial empire. During the Cold War, however, American military power was matched by that of the Soviets and American economic power declined relative to that of Japan. Yet periodic efforts at military and economic renewal did occur. In 1991, indeed, another distinguished British scholar, Barry Buzan, argued that “The deeper reality is that the centre is now more dominant, and the periphery more subordinate, than at any time since decolonization began.”4 The accuracy of that perception, however, fades as the military victory that gave rise to it also fades into history.
Third, power is the ability of one person or group to change the behavior of another person or group. Behavior may be changed through inducement, coercion, or exhortation, which require the power-wielder to have economic, military, institutional, demographic, political, technological, social, or other resources. The power of a state or group is hence normally estimated by measuring the resources it has at its disposal against those of the other states or groups it is trying to influence. The West’s share of most, but not all, of the important power resources peaked early in the twentieth century and then began to decline relative to those of other civilizations.
TABLE 4.1 TERRITORY UNDER THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF CIVILIZATIONS, 1900–1993
Territory and Population. In 1490 Western societies controlled most of the European peninsula outside the Balkans or perhaps 1.5 million square miles out of a global land area (apart from Antarctica) of 52.5 million square miles. At the peak of its territorial expansion in 1920, the West directly ruled about 25.5 million square miles or close to half the earth’s earth. By 1993 this territorial control had been cut in half to about 12.7 million square miles. The West was back to its original European core plus its spacious settler-populated lands in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The territory of independent Islamic societies, in contrast, rose from 1.8 million square miles in 1920 to over 11 million square miles in 1993. Similar changes occurred in the control of population. In 1900 Westerners composed roughly 30 percent of the world’s population and Western governments ruled almost 45 percent of that population then and 48 percent in 1920. In 1993, except for a few small imperial remnants like Hong Kong, Western governments ruled no one but Westerners. Westerners amounted to slightly over 13 percent of humanity and are due to drop to about 11 percent early in the next century and to 10 percent by 2025.5 In terms of total population, in 1993 the West ranked fourth behind Sinic, Islamic, and Hindu civilizations.
Quantitatively Westerners thus constitute a steadily decreasing minority of the world’s population. Qualitatively the balance between the West and other populations is also changing. Non-Western peoples are becoming healthier, more urban, more literate, better educated. By the early 1990s infant mortality rates in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia were one-third to one-half what they had been thirty years earlier. Life expectancy in these regions had increased significantly, with gains varying from eleven years in Africa to twenty-three years in East Asia. In the early 1960s in most of the Third World less than one-third of the adult population was literate. In the early 1990s, in very few countries apart from Africa was less than one-half the population literate. About fifty percent of Indians and 75 percent of Chinese could read and write. Literacy rates in developing countries in 1970 averaged 41 percent of those in developed countries; in 1992 they averaged 71 percent. By the early 1990s in every region except Africa virtually the entire age group was enrolled in primary education. Most significantly, in the early 1960s in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa less than one-third of the appropriate age group was enrolled in secondary education; by the early 1990s one-half of the age group was enrolled except in Africa. In 1960 urban residents made up less than one-quarter of the population of the less developed world. Between 1960 and 1992, however, the urban percentage of the population rose from 49 percent to 73 percent in Latin America, 34 percent to 55 percent in Arab countries, 14 percent to 29 percent in Africa, 18 percent to 27 percent in China, and 19 percent to 26 percent in India.6
TABLE 4.2 POPULATIONS OF COUNTRIES BELONGING TO THE WORLD’S MAJOR CIVILIZATIONS, 1993 (in thousands)
TABLE 4.3 SHARES OF WORLD POPULATION UNDER THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF CIVILIZATIONS, 1900–2025 (in percentages)
These shifts in literacy, education, and urbanization created socially mobilized populations with enhanced capabilities and higher expectations who could be activated for political purposes in ways in which illiterate peasants could not. Socially mobilized societies are more powerful societies. In 1953, when less than 15 percent of Iranians were literate and less than 17 percent urban, Kermit Roosevelt and a few CIA operatives rather easily suppressed an insurgency and restored the Shah to his throne. In 1979, when 50 percent of Iranians were literate and 47 percent lived in cities, no amount of U.S. military power could have kept the Shah on his throne. A significant gap still separates Chinese, Indians, Arabs, and Africans from Westerners, Japanese, and Russians. Yet the gap is narrowing rapidly. At the same time, a different gap is opening. The average ages of Westerners, Japanese, and Russians are increasingly steadily, and the larger proportion of the population that no longer works imposes a mounting burden on those still productively employed. Other civilizations are burdened by large numbers of children, but children are future workers and soldiers.
Economic Product The Western share of the global economic product also may have peaked in the 1920s and has clearly been declining since World War II. In 1750 China accounted for almost one-third, India for almost one-quarter, and the West for less than a fifth of the world’s manufacturing output. By 1830 the West had pulled slightly ahead of China. In the following decades, as Paul Bairoch points out, the industrialization of the West led to the deindustrialization of the rest of the world. In 1913 the manufacturing output of non-Western countries was roughly two-thirds what it had been in 1800. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century the Western share rose dramatically, peaking in 1928 at 84.2 percent of world manufacturing output. Thereafter the West’s share declined as its rate of growth remained modest and as less industrialized countries expanded their output rapidly after World War II. By 1980 the West accounted for 57.8 percent of global manufacturing output, roughly the share it had 120 years earlier in the 1860s.7
TABLE 4.4 SHARES OF WORLD MANUFACTURING OUTPUT BY CIVILIZATION OR COUNTRY, 1750–1980 (in percentages, World = 100%)
Reliable data on gross economic product are not available for the pre-World War II period. In 1950, however, the West accounted for roughly 64 percent of the gross world product; by the 1980s this proportion had dropped to 49 percent. (See Table 4.5.) By 2013, according to one estimate, the West will account for only 30% of the world product. In 1991, according to another estimate, four of the world’s seven largest economies belonged to non-Western nations: Japan (in second place), China (third), Russia (sixth), and India (seventh). In 1992 the United States had the largest economy in the world, and the top ten economies included those of five Western countries plus the leading states of five other civilizations: China, Japan, India, Russia, and Brazil. In 2020 plausible projections indicate that the top five economies will be in five different civilizations, and the top ten economies will include only three Western countries. This relative decline of the West is, of course, in large part a function of the rapid rise of East Asia.8
Gross figures on economic output partially obscure the West’s qualitative advantage. The West and Japan almost totally dominate advanced technology industries. Technologies are being disseminated, however, and if the West wishes to maintain its superiority it will do what it can to minimize that dissemination. Thanks to the interconnected world which the West has created, however, slowing the diffusion of technology to other civilizations is increasingly difficult. It is made all the more so in the absence of a single, overpowering, agreed-upon threat such as existed during the Cold War and gave measures of technology control some modest effectiveness.
TABLE 4.5 CIVILIZATION SHARES OF WORLD GROSS ECONOMIC PRODUCT, 1950–1992 (in percentages)
It appears probable that for most of history China had the world’s largest economy. The diffusion of technology and the economic development of non-Western societies in the second half of the twentieth century are now producing a return to the historical pattern. This will be a slow process, but by the middle of the twenty-first century, if not before, the distribution of economic product and manufacturing output among the leading civilizations is likely to resemble that of 1800. The two-hundred-year Western “blip” on the world economy will be over.
Military Capability. Military power has four dimensions: quantitative—the numbers of men, weapons, equipment, and resources; technological—the effectiveness and sophistication of weapons and equipment; organizational—the coherence, discipline, training, and morale of the troops and the effectiveness of command and control relationships; and societal—the ability and willingness of the society to apply military force effectively. In the 1920s the West was far ahead of everyone else in all these dimensions. In the years since, the military power of the West has declined relative to that of other civilizations, a decline reflected in the shifting balance in military personnel, one measure, although clearly not the most important one, of military capability. Modernization and economic development generate the resources and desire for states to develop their military capabilities, and few states fail to do so. In the 1930s Japan and the Soviet Union created very powerful military forces, as they demonstrated in World War II. During the Cold War the Soviet Union had one of the world’s two most powerful military forces. Currently the West monopolizes the ability to deploy substantial conventional military forces anywhere in the world. Whether it will continue to maintain that capability is uncertain. It seems reasonably certain, however, that no non-Western state or group of states will create a comparable capability during the coming decades.
TABLE 4.6 CIVILIZATION SHARES OF TOTAL WORLD MILITARY MANPOWER (in percentages)
Overall, the years after the Cold War have been dominated by five major trends in the evolution of global military capabilities.
First, the armed forces of the Soviet Union ceased to exist shortly after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Apart from Russia, only Ukraine inherited significant military capabilities. Russian forces were greatly reduced in size and were withdrawn from Central Europe and the Baltic states. The Warsaw Pact ended. The goal of challenging the U.S. Navy was abandoned. Military equipment was either disposed of or allowed to deteriorate and become nonoperational. Budget allocations for defense were drastically reduced. Demoralization pervaded the ranks of both officers and men. At the same time the Russian military were redefining their missions and doctrine and restructuring themselves for their new roles in protecting Russians and dealing with regional conflicts in the near abroad.
Second, the precipitous reduction in Russian military capabilities stimulated a slower but significant decline in Western military spending, forces, and capabilities. Under the plans of the Bush and Clinton administrations, U.S. military spending was due to drop by 35 percent from $342.3 billion (1994 dollars) in 1990 to $222.3 in 1998. The force structure that year would be half to two-thirds what it was at the end of the Cold War. Total military personnel would go down from 2.1 million to 1.4 million. Many major weapons programs have been and are being canceled. Between 1985 and 1995 annual purchases of major weapons went down from 29 to 6 ships, 943 to 127 aircraft, 720 to 0 tanks, and 48 to 18 strategic missiles. Beginning in the late 1980s, Britain, Germany, and, to a lesser degree, France went through similar reductions in defense spending and military capabilities. In the mid-1990s, the German armed forces were scheduled to decline from 370,000 to 340,000 and probably to 320,000; the French army was to drop from its strength of 290,000 in 1990 to 225,000 in 1997. British military personnel went down from 377,100 in 1985 to 274,800 in 1993. Continental members of NATO also shortened terms of conscripted service and debated the possible abandonment of conscription.
Third, the trends in East Asia differed significantly from those in Russia and the West. Increased military spending and force improvements were the order of the day; China was the pacesetter. Stimulated by both their increasing economic wealth and the Chinese buildup, other East Asian nations are modernizing and expanding their military forces. Japan has continued to improve its highly sophisticated military capability. Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia all are spending more on their military and purchasing planes, tanks, and ships from Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other countries. While NATO defense expenditures declined by roughly 10 percent between 1985 and 1993 (from $539.6 billion to $485.0 billion) (constant 1993 dollars), expenditures in East Asia rose by 50 percent from $89.8 billion to $134.8 billion during the same period.9
Fourth, military capabilities including weapons of mass destruction are diffusing broadly across the world. As countries develop economically, they generate the capacity to produce weapons. Between the 1960s and 1980s, for instance, the number of Third World countries producing fighter aircraft increased from one to eight, tanks from one to six, helicopters from one to six, and tactical missiles from none to seven. The 1990s have seen a major trend toward the globalization of the defense industry, which is likely further to erode Western military advantages.10 Many non-Western societies either have nuclear weapons (Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and possibly North Korea) or have been making strenuous efforts to acquire them (Iran, Iraq, Libya, and possibly Algeria) or are placing themselves in a position quickly to acquire them if they see the need to do so (Japan).
Finally, all those developments make regionalization the central trend in military strategy and power in the post-Cold War world. Regionalization provides the rationale for the reductions in Russian and Western military forces and for increases in the military forces of other states. Russia no longer has a global military capability but is focusing its strategy and forces on the near abroad. China has reoriented its strategy and forces to emphasize local power projection and the defense of Chinese interests in East Asia. European countries are similarly redirecting their forces, through both NATO and the Western European Union, to deal with instability on the periphery of Western Europe. The United States has explicitly shifted its military planning from deterring and fighting the Soviet Union on a global basis to preparing to deal simultaneously with regional contingencies in the Persian Gulf and Northeast Asia. The United States, however, is not likely to have the military capability to meet these goals. To defeat Iraq, the United States deployed in the Persian Gulf 75 percent of its active tactical aircraft, 42 percent of its modern battle tanks, 46 percent of its aircraft carriers, 37 percent of its army personnel, and 46 percent of its marine personnel. With significantly reduced forces in the future, the United States will be hard put to carry out one intervention, much less two, against substantial regional powers outside the Western Hemisphere. Military security throughout the world increasingly depends not on the global distribution of power and the actions of superpowers but on the distribution of power within each region of the world and the actions of the core states of civilizations.
In sum, overall the West will remain the most powerful civilization well into the early decades of the twenty-first century. Beyond then it will probably continue to have a substantial lead in scientific talent, research and development capabilities, and civilian and military technological innovation. Control over the other power resources, however, is becoming increasingly dispersed among the core states and leading countries of non-Western civilizations. The West’s control of these resources peaked in the