11 septembre 9/11 aaron klein abbas abdallah abdallah II abdelkader merah accords d'oslo adam zertal adenauer affaires Ă©trangĂ¨res afghanistan africom afrique afrique du sud ahmadinejad aipac AKP al qaeda al qaida al-arabiya al-fayed al-qaida algĂ©rie algeria aliyah allemagne amĂ©rique america anavad ANC angela merkel ankara ansar dine antisĂ©mitisme antisemitism antizionism apartheid aqmi arabes arabes israĂ©liens arabie saoudite arabs arafat armĂ©e armĂ©niens army ashkenazy assad assemblĂ©e gĂ©nĂ©rale assyriens atatĂĽrk auschwitz autoritĂ© palestinienne autriche-hongrie ayrault azawad Ă©conomie Ă©glise Ă©gypte Ă©lections Ă©tat Ă©tats-unis Ă©vangĂ©liques bachman baker balkans balladur bangladesh bankruptcy banlieues barack obama barak barbares bat yeor bayrou begin beheading beilin belgique belgium bennet benoĂ®t xvi berbĂ¨res bernheim bible biden bill clinton blancs blood libel BNVCA bourgine brĂ©sil brexit britain brzezinski burke bush byzantins cahuzac cameron canada carter Castro 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verte likoud likud livni livres london louis xvi LR lyons macarthur maccain macron magoudi mahmoud abbas mai 1968 mali mandala mandat mandela mao marcion marcionisme marine le pen marines marion marĂ©chal-le pen maroc maronites marseilles massacres massortis mavi marmara mayflower mayotte mĂ©dias mĂ©lanchon mccain media medias mein kampf mer morte mer noire merah meretz mergui merkel mexique michel gurfinkiel middle east migrants migration missiles mitterrand mnla mohamed merah monarchie monarchy monde arabe monde islamique monod mont du temple montauban montebourg montesquieu morocco morsi mosaic moscovici moubarak moyen-orient munich murder muslims musulmans napolĂ©on napoleon naqba nasser natalitĂ© national assembly national front nations unies nato nazis neo-french netanyahu nethanyahu new emerging powers new york new york review of books new york times nicolas sarkozy nixon noĂ«l nobel noirs north america norvĂ¨ge nouvel observateur november 13 NPA nuclĂ©aire obama occident 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romney ron paul roosevelt roquette rosenfeld rouhani royal royaume-uni russia russie rwanda sadate sahara salafistes salem al-fayed sanctuaire du rocher sandler santorum sarah halimi sarkozy saudi arabia savir sĂ©golĂ¨ne royal sĂ©nat sĂ©pharades scandale SCO SDN seconde guerre mondiale security council selden senate shafik shalit shalom akhshav shamir sharon shas shoah sionisme sionistes socialist socialists sociĂ©tĂ© society sondages soral soviet union spcj ss staline state nobility state of emergency statism stratĂ©gie strauss-kahn strikes subworlds succession sunnites sweden sykes-picot synagogue syria syrie tahrir tardieu tariq ramadan taubira tel-aviv terre d'israĂ«l terror terrorism terrorisme thatcher the west time tocqueville torah totalitarisme toulouse tourisme travaillistes trevidic tribus trilatĂ©rale truman trump tsahal tsipras tunisie turkey turquie tv ue uk ukraine UMP un unesco union europĂ©enne union pour la mĂ©diterranĂ©e united nations united states unrwa URSS US usa 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Monday, September 1 2014
Geopolitics/ As The World Turns (III) : Can The West Prevail ?
Our Brave New World (Part Three) : The Challenge
As noted earlier, the West—the United States, the European Union, and clusters of countries, all around the world, that align with them—is still the leading element in world affairs, whatever the challenges and threats from the Wastelands and the NEPs, and in spite of six years of recession.
Out of a rapidly growing gross world product, according to the IMF, the United States, Canada, and the European and Euro-Pacific countries (Australia, New Zealand)—the West's historic core—achieved a total gross product of $39.1 trillion: 52.8 percent of the global world product.
The older emerging countries of Asia—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, which are culturally, politically, economically, and strategically aligned with the West, and not likely to switch sides in a foreseeable future—add a global $7.3 trillion to the sum total. Several Latin American nations—Mexico, Chile, and Colombia—add another $1.9 trillion. The West's global product thus comes close to $49 trillion: 65.2 percent of the world product.
Likewise, the West and the West-oriented countries remain unchallenged world leaders in per capita GDP—from $99,000 per annum in Norway and $65,000 in Australia in 2013, to $53,000 in the US and Canada, and from $38,500 in Japan and an average of $32,000 in the EU, to $26,000 in South Korea and $21,000 in Taiwan. The first NEP, for comparison, is Russia, with $14,000. Then come Brazil and Turkey, with $11,000 and $10,000, respectively. China stands at $6,800, Iran at $5,200, and India at $1,500.
Not unexpectedly, life expectancy largely follows per capita GDP. It is above eighty years in most Western or West-oriented countries, and falls sharply among NEPs—76.2 years in Brazil, 74.4 years in Turkey, 74.2 years in China, 73.5 years in Iran, and 70.0 in India and Russia.
The West and the West-oriented countries come first again, by an even wider margin, in more qualitative matters. They are still undisputed leaders—both as innovators and as producers or providers—in hard science, R&D, high tech, machine tools, robotics, avionics, cars, pharmaceutics and medical technologies, nuclear energy, water processing, food production and conditioning, nature and species conservation, quality housing, services, tourism, fashion, entertainment, quality media, armaments, and war-related technologies. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities—the so called "Shanghai Ranking," published since 2003 by the Jiao Tong University, in Shanghai—four hundred and fifty out of the five hundred top universities are Western or West-oriented, forty-five are NEP, and five do not belong to either sub-world.
Although some NEPs (China, India, Brazil, Turkey) have been building up an impressive manufacturing base over the past thirty-five years, and have even successfully absorbed state-of-the-art technologies, none of them has so far launched by itself a new and innovative technology or product with a potential to revolutionize everyday life or war.
Does such dominance mean that the West should dismiss the threats presented by the Wastelands or regard the anti-Western militancy of the NEPs as hyperbolic? Alas, no.
The West may be considerably more powerful, in strategic terms, than the Wasteland "emirates," but it is less willing than they are to make full use of its strength. As for the NEPs, the fact that the West is retaining its quantitative and qualitative edge at present does not mean that some of them at least, especially China, India, and Brazil, will not become dominant powers in the future, especially given their additional assets of a large landmass and a very big population, and thus be able to pursue their hypernationalist agendas without any restraint.
Moreover, the West is crippled by some specific frailties that should not be overlooked. While demographic transition—due to birth control, drop in fecundity, and higher life expectancy—is now a near universal feature globally, it started much earlier in the West than in other countries and the West's share in world population is thus likely to drop more sharply in coming decades. Western countries may be gradually paralyzed by lower manpower and an ever-expanding elderly class in comparison to the Wastelands and NEPs.
Another Western vulnerability is the decoupling that appears to be taking place between the West's main pillars, America and Europe; or, alternatively, between the Anglosphere (North America, Australia, and England) and continental Europe. The Anglosphere remains solidly democratic: citizens still believe they have a say in public affairs, if only by voting against current administrations. But confidence in democracy has been corroded in most European countries by steady transfers of power and competence from the elected national governments to the unelected EU bureaucracy. America remains moderately prosperous, in spite of the Great Recession of 2008, whereas most European countries are frozen in a zero-growth situation (notably because of the euro, a currency tailored for deflation), or just bankrupt. Religion and family values are still important in America, while they have collapsed in most of Europe. Immigrants are more willing to join the mainstream in America than in Europe.
A third challenge for the West is the sympathy many of its citizens feel for the NEPs and their political or geopolitical projects. Russia is successfully cultivating close ties in Europe with both the far left and the far right. Turkey, very much a Western country until 2002, has switched to the NEP side after more than a decade under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan's foreign minister, is one of the main theorists of a global NEP entente directed against the West.
The successive crises, from Syria to Ukraine, that have shaken the world since the summer of 2013 have already brought about a new introspection in all Western countries. These crises may turn out to be blessings in disguise. Paralysis among American decisionmakers may be replaced by a sustainable bipartisan consensus on major geopolitical issues, given the new specters stalking the world. A similar consensus may be reached as well with most other Western nations who have experienced a wake-up call.
One result of acknowledging these new realities might be a recognition that NEPs should be seen as hostile or potentially hostile countries, and agreements to which they are parties reviewed accordingly. The validity of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the other international regimes born out of the Cold War, and extended after the fall of the Soviet Union, should be questioned, given Russia's membership. Turkey's economic partnership with the West, an important factor of its phenomenal growth for the last twenty years, might also be reconsidered, as well as its strategic membership in NATO.
Simultaneously, incentives could be devised to help the least hostile NEPs—India and Brazil—break away from national-socialist temptations and join the West. And a hardheaded attempt should be made to talk even the core NEPs—Russia and China—into reassessing their present policies.
All in all, Putin's Russia is less a resurrected empire than a zombie empire, a half-dead polity that can still cause serious misery for its neighbors and mischief for its "frenemies" in Europe, but is nonetheless a tottering state. It can seize Crimea from Ukraine, but it may not be able to prevent China, sometime in the future, from seizing the underpopulated Russian Far East, where a Chinese presence of investors and immigrants is steadily growing. In this regard, whatever temporary accommodation Russia makes, its long-term geopolitical interest is clearly to associate with Europe and America rather than to become a hardened enemy.
As for China, it should be urged to pay attention to the Japanese precedent. Japan's modernizing program in the late-nineteenth-century Meiji era was encapsulated in two words, Fukoku Kyohei, to be translated as "Rich Country, Strong Army." As a rich country, both imperial and postwar Japan were overwhelming success stories; as a military state, imperial Japan spiraled into disaster. Since Deng Xiaoping took over for good in 1979, in just thirty-five years, China has achieved as much or even more than Meiji Japan—by joining, as the Japanese did, the Western-designed global market of information, science, technology, manufacturing, and trade. While China's growth is likely to slow down a bit as it switches from emergence to full wealth, and from manufacturing to innovation, it will probably remain quite high for years. But the West should point out to China that if it seduces itself into a belief that it can win zero-sum Great Powers games, it may both lose its magic link with modernity and stir an anti-hegemonic coalition, first in East Asia and then elsewhere, that will dominate its future.
Even in its current uncertainty, division, and intellectual turmoil, the West knows what must be done. But as has been the case at other crucial moments in history, the question is whether it will summon up the will to do it.
(See Parts One and Two)
© Michel Gurfinkiel & World Affairs, 2014
Michel Gurfinkiel is the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think tank in Paris, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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