The new ‘Great Game’: What awaits us?
New players who were on the sidelines of the Cold War’s bipolar global order have now rejoined the fray. Despite the global financial crisis, the “Middle Kingdom” has conquered a place on almost all of the world’s playing fields. Beijing has positioned itself to challenge the dollar as the global reserve currency and extend its position of power throughout the world. This has led to the prediction of a new bipolarity, in the words of the late former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, a “G-2 World.”
Two key megatrends are likely to shape our world up to 2030: Demographic patterns, especially rapid aging in some OECD countries and the increasing youth population in developing and emerging nations; and growing resource demands. In the cases of food, energy and water, the latter might lead to scarcities despite the current oversupply in energy, the prevalence of obesity over famine, and the waste of water resources.
When we reach the world of 2030, which will no doubt be radically transformed from our world today, no country is likely to remain a hegemonic power. A neo-polar world is in the offing. The empowerment of individuals and diffusion of power among states and from states to informal networks will have a dramatic impact, largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750 and restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy.
The West has been for centuries at the heart - and the principal shaper - of game-changing developments around the world. Perhaps this will no longer be so. The Western nations still fire shots for certain decisions and choices in the economy, energy and geopolitics that affect our lives, but increasingly emerging nations - powerful in technology, trade, finance and military - want more directorship to be given for them on the management board of our planet.
Over the past few years Europe continent has experienced a period of turbulence - a change of elites and an outburst of populism. The rise of euroscepticism has led to concerns about the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. Alongside this, the Catalan separatist challenge is likely to divide Spain – and possibly the EU – while Switzerland’s relationship with the bloc is deteriorating. Brexit, the rise of far right in Germany and France, a decoupling from the U.S., and terrorism are all disturbing trends.
The disparities between the EU and third countries are growing. Irregular migration is still a problem, and managing it requires legal pathways and a greater international cooperation. The EU needs to complete the EU monetary union, but what people actually want is not the same: There are completely different ideas of a monetary union.
In the East, there is a growing confidence that China is on the rise while the West is in decline. The Chinese challenge to the West is taking place on three fronts: Ideological, economic and geopolitical. In the realm of ideas, the Communist Party leadership is increasingly strident in repudiating Western liberalism. President Xi and his colleagues argue that one-party rule works well for China and should extend long into the future. China is increasingly confident that its “model” can combine tight political control with continued rapid economic growth and technological innovation.
Some of the significant game-changing developments in the early 21st century include Trumponomics, prices hikes for “black gold,” the re-emergence of China in cutting-edge technologies, Russia gaining new geopolitical spheres of influence, forex swings and cryptocurrency fever, Venezuela as a sinking ship, possible confrontation with Iran, the demise of African dictators, a more dangerous world, trade wars, and a green energy revolution.
Turkey cannot continue business as usual in this new “Great Game.” It has to become one of the game-makers, at least in its region, given that it is the most powerful player in a vast geography from China to Germany and Russia to Saudi Arabia by any objective criteria. That is the toughest challenge facing whoever gets elected in Turkey on June 24.