Megatrends in Geopolitics

There are major changes that have been taking recently, which have led to major changes in the geopolitical landscape over the last two decades. The recent global financial crisis and the September 11, 2001 attack on the US have led to “changes in the normal procedure of international politics and economy” (National Intelligence Council, 2013).  In addition, the global and local political systems have become diverse due to economic and power shifts around the world. Economic power is diffusing from the Western countries to the BRIC countries due to an increase in resources, financial power, population, consumer influence and knowledge base in the rapidly developing countries. Despite the changes in the geopolitical landscape, geopolitical trends are still relevant today. For instance, the US still has a dominant influence in the global economic and political landscape.

There are megatrends that exist today, which are expected to take greater momentum in the future. The megatrends are the empowerment of individuals, changes in demographic patterns, shift and diffusion of power and increase demand for essential resources such as food, energy and water. There is likelihood that the megatrends will have a major impact on geopolitics in the future. National Intelligence Council (2013) describes a scenario of how power shift and diffusion will take place. The economies of India, China and Brazil have been growing at rapid rates over the last three decades. As result, the economy of China has risen from insignificant to one of the major economies in the world.  With the current trends, there is likelihood that Asia will have surpassed Europe and North America in terms of technological investment, military spending, population size and economic power, based on GDP. If the current trend does not change, China will have the largest economy in the World by 2030. With the increased influence of the developing countries, the health of the world economy will be linked to the performance of the economies of developing nations, rather than the Western developed nations. In particular, economies of countries such as China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa will become very important to the world economy. At the same time, the economies of Russia, Japan and Europe will continue to decline. As a result, economic power will shift from such developed countries to the developing nations.  Despite the impact of the megatrends, geopolitics will still remain important in the future. The US, for instance, is likely to remain influential in the future. However, the US will have to share the power with the developing nations (National Intelligence Council, 2013).

Impact of Globalization on States

Globalization has both positive and negative impacts on States’ cultural, technological, social, economic and political dimensions. To start with, it has allowed the increased mobility of technological innovation between states. As such, “it is now possible to access newly invented purchase materials, tools, equipments, seeds, vegetative tissues and embryos from other states” (Livermore & ‎Revesz, 2013). Secondly, globalization has facilitated social interactions between people from different states. For example, the development of the World Wide Web and satellite systems has allowed states to interact and to communicate easily with other nations. People from different states are able to communicate easily via the internet, especially through social sites such as FaceBook and Twitter.

Globalization has also facilitated economic integration between states. Economic integration, in particular, has various economic benefits to states. For instance, increased flow of goods between states has led to poverty reduction in developing countries in Africa, such as Nigeria, and Ghana. In terms of culture, globalization has allowed the spread of culture from one state or region to others. For example, “US cultural goods, such as pop music and Hollywood movies have spread in many parts of the world” (Livermore & ‎Revesz, 2013). Lastly, globalization has allowed states to interact and to influence each other politically in positive ways. For instance, globalization has facilitated the sprout of democratic governments in countries where dictatorship has thrived for a long time, such as Tunisia.

There are several negative effects of globalization. To start with, there is increased likelihood that economic difficulties affecting one nation may affect many other nations as a result of increased interdependence. A good example is the recent global financial crisis. The crises started in the US and later spread to other countries in other regions in the World. In the same vein, “there is a higher possibility of transfer of diseases and conflicts across borders” (Livermore & ‎Revesz, 2013).

Impact of Globalization on Diplomatic Trends

There are several globalization trends that are affecting global diplomacy in the recent years.  One of the major aspects of globalization that have an impact on global diplomacy is the emergence of international actors. Prior to the onset of globalization, states were the only legally recognized actors who could be involved in crisis cases requiring diplomatic interventions. However, they have lost the monopoly to international organizations.  Today, “international organizations and other entities are recognized as agents under the international law” (Kickbusch et al., 2012). Institutions such as Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, Médecins sans Frontières, Amnesty International and International Red Cross are able to gather the support of the public to push their agenda. They have gained so much influence to the extent that their views are represented in diplomatic talks. For example, the international non-governmental organizations have been involved in major international conferences held at Johannesburg, Monterrey, Kyoto, Cairo, Beijing, Vienna and Rio. As such, it would be unthinkable to carry out diplomatic talks in response to an international crisis without acknowledging the contribution of the international non-governmental organizations.

In addition to the non-governmental organizations, multinational business organizations have gained so much influence and power to the extent that it is difficult to ignore them especially in cases where the crises have an impact on their performances. Examples of influential multinational organizations are McDonalds Cadbury Schweppes and Coca-Cola. The participation of the international actors in diplomacy talks can raise questions, as to their representatives and accountability (Kickbusch et al., 2012). However, the fact remains that their view cannot be ignored.
US actions against Terrorists

The United States has violated the international law for a long time to overthrow democratically elected governments in Iran, Congo, Guatemala and other conflict zones. There is an outcry from targeted zones that the US continues to oversee the drone program to target a “kill list” in favor of American exceptionalism. There has been also using of “signature strikes,” personally authorized by president Obama, which target to strike unidentified and unconfirmed individuals in Yemen and Pakistan (Sterio, 2012).  However, Ben Emmerson, who is UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, has initiated investigations on deaths caused by drone attacks to end the continuing conspiracy of silence perpetrated by the president of the US.

The US even violates its own constitutional law assented by US President Gerald Ford in 1976; Executive Order 11905 of section 5(g), that stated no employee of the government of the United shall engage or engage to conspire in political assassination (Sterio, 2012). Under Article 4 of the third Geneva Convention, states that lawful combatants are the armed forces or the militia who distinguish themselves by wearing uniforms and following customs of war. Civilians should not be a target since they do not qualify as lawful combatants. For instance, the assassination of Redland’s president was unlawful. The term assassination violates 1907 Hague conventions, Statutes of the International Criminal Courts for Rwanda and Yugoslavia and 1949 Geneva Conventions. In addition, in the context of LOAC, it is forbidden to wound or kill treacherous individuals belonging to a hostile army or Nation (Solis, 2011).

Interstate and Asymmetric Conflicts

Asymmetric conflict occurs between two opponents who do not have equal strengths in terms of resources. The conflict occurs “between two opponents whose tactics, strategies and military powers differ significantly” (Resnick, 2013).  In such conflicts, the opponents usually use unconventional warfare tactics, where the weaker opponent tries to exploit specific vulnerabilities of the stronger, as well as timing, geography and surprise to achieve victory. As such, the weaker opponent always tries to avoid direct contact with the strengths of the opponent, and prefers to despair or disrupt command functions or logistics. A good example of an asymmetric conflict is the invasion of the western nations by terrorists. After the invasion of the Afghanistan by the US, the Al-Qaeda terrorist group which is based in Afghanistan responded through asymmetric warfare tactics against the US.  As a result, “the Al-Qaeda group carried out major terrorist attacks in the US in September 11, 2001” Resnick, 2013).

On the other hand, interstate conflicts simply occur between states. In interstate wars, the country’s military force fights the military force of the other country. A god example of interstate conflict is the war that has been taking place in the past between Djibouti and Eritrea. The two countries have been experiencing border disputes over the last two decades.  Similar conflict has also occurred between Ethiopia and Eritrea between 1998 and 2000.

In some cases, the interstate conflicts can have similarities with the asymmetric conflict, especially where the conflict involves two states with significant differences in strengths. A good example is the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israel is much stronger than Palestine, with powerful forces and military resources. After realizing the difference, Palestine has been retaliating to attacks from Israel through asymmetric tactics, such as “cross-border snipping and small, unexpected gun fights” (Resnick, 2013). The major difference between asymmetric and interstate conflicts occurs where the two opponents decide to use military and conventional tactics to fight each other. Also, the interstate warfare may not target civilians, unlike the asymmetric warfare, which often targets innocent civilians.

Impacts of International trade Liberalization

Trade liberalization involves the removal or reduction of trade tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers that may inhibit trade between nations. Although trade liberalization in the global market has several benefits, its overall effects are very controversial. There are several key benefits of trade liberalization to an economy. As Schmidt et al. (2011) explains, trade liberalization gives an opportunity to nations to specialize in the production of specific products and services “where there is comparative advantage.” Secondly, the removal of trade barriers leads to lower consumer prices for products and services. Increased competition from foreign products and services leads domestic firms to focus on enhancing production efficiency. Trade liberalization spurs specialization, which leads to lower costs of production and prices for products and services. Other benefits of trade liberalization include igniting economic growth, facilitating nations to utilize surplus raw materials and countering the inefficiency caused by tariffs.

Despite the numerous positive effects of trade liberalization, it has negative effects as well. One of the major negative effects is that increased competition may inhibit the growth of emerging firms or even kill infant industries. Secondly, increased imports competing with the locally-produced goods may lead to loss of jobs or downgrading of wages. Further, “trade liberalization may allow the penetration of harmful goods or goods that threaten national security” (Schmidt et al., 2011). In this regard, it is essential to take advantage of the benefits of trade liberalization, but any nation planning to engage in trade liberalization should evaluate the negative consequences first. Where such negative effects are foreseen, such partnerships should be avoided, or trade restrictions should be maintained.

Comparing the Global North and the Global South

The globe is divided into two economic worlds, the global north and the global south. The global north encompasses the developed countries such as North America, Europe, Australia and Israel, among others. On the other hand, the global south encompasses developing or underdeveloped countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Africa, China and India. Remarkably, there is significant North-South gap in the level of development. To start with, the global north countries are highly developed, wealthy and have advanced technology. The output per worker and the overall production in the US, Israel and European is higher than in the global south countries such as Africa and India. This explains the fact that the US has the largest economy in the world. “While the economies of the global north countries are supported by mass industrialization, the economies of the global south countries are supported by the agrarian industry” (Kegley & Raymond, 2012). A good example is the economy of Ethiopia, which is underdeveloped, and it is highly supported by agriculture.

Further, the global north countries work hard to protect human rights. For instance, the US resists any activity that might infringe on the public’s autonomy, freedom of speech, privacy and other rights. On the other and the global south countries are ineffective in protecting human rights. In countries where the Arab spring has affected, such as Tunisia and Syria, the governments do not protect human rights even within their national borders. About environmental conditions, the global north countries are the largest contributors of pollution when combined. However, “China is the largest polluter in the world, although it is in the global south” (Kegley & Raymond, 2012). The rest of the countries in the global south do not contribute significantly to environmental pollution.

Addressing Future Global Concerns

Although the global north is more developed than the global south, the gap is likely to reduce in the next two decades due to the rapidly expanding economies of the developing countries. In addition, the gap in human rights protection and environmental conditions might reduce. As noted earlier, (National Intelligence Council, 2013) describes a scenario of the expected future trends in development in the World. The economies of countries such as China, Brazil and India are already expanding rapidly, with those of countries such as Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia and Colombia starting to take similar trend. At the same time, the economies of many global north countries such as Russia, Japan and Europe have stagnated, and are likely to decline in the future. The result of such development will be a decrease in the development gap. With increased advocacy for the protection by international organizations such as the UN, the protection of human rights in the global south countries will increase. However, increased level of industrialization in the developing countries will lead to an increase in environmental pollution. At the same time, “environmental pollution in the Global north countries will decline due to an increase in the use of renewable energy” (National Intelligence Council, 2013).

The reduction in the development gap and improvement in the human rights in the global south countries are the main benefits that will be derived from the changes. As well, the reduction in the rate of environmental pollution in the global north countries will be beneficial. However, the effect will be cancelled by the negative impact of the increase in environmental pollution in the global south countries. The most significant impact is that the overall gap between states will reduce.

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