India’s recent suggestion to the US to prepare for a multipolar world seems appropriate in the current times, with a post-Covid world looking towards the breaking of power from the usual binaries to a nebulous spread.
Crux of the Matter
Definition And Recent US-age
Multipolar world can be defined as the state when there are more than 2 dominant nations, with several nations having similar level of economic, cultural and military strength.
In the ‘India Ideas Summit’ 2020′, Dr. S. Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs of India, advised the US “to learn to work with a more multipolar world with more plurilateral arrangements” amidst the recent conflict between the US and China, where several key nations have emerged with a larger role than the traditional powers.
Era Of Regional Alliances
Regional alliances were common before World War I. In the war, the major Central powers were Germany, and its adjoining neighbor, the Austro-Hungarian empire. Italy was also a part of their pact, but stayed neutral earlier, later joining the Allies. These Central powers were later joined by the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey), and adjoining Bulgaria.
On the other side, the Allied powers had Russia, Britain and France joined through the Triple Entente pact. The US and Japan later joined on the Allies side, signifying a shift towards the formation of alliances with countries outside Europe that entered the war.
World War II Alliances
While countries outside the European region took part in the war, prominent alliances were formed between countries belonging to different regions and continents after World War II.
The Tripartite Pact was signed between the Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan, which was situated 9,000 km far from Germany in Asia. These were later joined by Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, etc. The major powers on the Allied side were Britain, France, Soviet Union, and the US, which also signed the United Nations declaration in 1942.
Cold War Alignment
The US and the Soviet Union engaged in the Cold War after World War II, which lasted until the dissolution of the latter in 1991. In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) came into existence, whose members were US, Italy, Canada, Britain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, etc. The Treaty claimed that any “armed attack” against any member was to be considered an attack on the whole, and the required response would be taken by the whole group.
In 1954, the NATO rejected the membership request of the Soviet, while agreed on that for West Germany. Consequently, in 1955, the Warsaw Pact was signed by 8 Members including the USSR, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc.
In 1955, the Bandung conference took place to boost ties between Asian and African nations like India, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, China, etc. In the meeting, the nations called for “abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers”. These nations then decided not to take the overt side of either the US or the USSR in the Cold War. Consequently, in 1961, the Non-Aligned Movement was agreed between the developing nations to avoid conflict at the international level.
India’s Unique Position
India imported food supplies from the US between 1947 and 1959 due to poor harvest and insufficient agricultural system. In 1950, India rejected the ‘Uniting for Peace Resolution’ by the US as it reduced the powers of the USSR in the international stage. Consequently, India developed strong ties with the USSR while the US developed relations with Pakistan.
The Non-alignment of India suffered when China attacked in 1962 over a lack of support provided. Consequently, in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the US openly supported Pakistan while the USSR countered the US and supported India.
Several experts claim that India could be the next global power amidst calls against China for its role in the Covid-19 spread as well as its dealings with Hong Kong and Taiwan. One of the major reasons cited by experts is that India, with 2nd largest population in the world, could be potentially the next market hotspot as industries seek to shift from China in recent times.
India recently developed strong ties with Australia, Israel, Japan, the US, Russia, the European Union, etc, with these ties providing an edge to it over China. With Covid-19 affecting major economies like the US and Japan (both in recession), India is poised for being possibly the next power in the multipolar world.
- The balance of power theory in international relations suggests that states may secure their survival by preventing any one state from gaining enough military power to dominate all others. Some realists maintain that a balance-of-power system is more stable than one with a dominant state.
- Hegemonic stability theory (HST) is a theory of international relations, rooted in research from the fields of political science, economics, and history. HST indicates that the international system is more likely to remain stable when a single nation-state is the dominant world power or hegemon. The 1973 book The World in Depression: 1929-1939, argues that the economic chaos between World War I and World War II that led to the Great Depression was partly attributable to the lack of a world leader with a dominant economy.
- International relations theory is the study of international relations (IR) from a theoretical perspective. It attempts to provide a conceptual framework upon which international relations can be analyzed. The three most prominent theories are realism, liberalism, and constructivism.
- India Today – US has to learn to work in multipolar world: Jaishankar at India Ideas Summit 2020
- HistoryExtra – America and WW2: when, how and why did the US get involved, and why they didn’t enter sooner?
- The Indian Express – Global power axis is shifting eastwards from the Pacific-Atlantic. India’s future lies in the Indian Ocean region
- Alpha History – COLD WAR ALLIANCES
- The Times Of India – Jawaharlal Nehru – The architect of India’s foreign policy
- Britannica – Non-Aligned Movement
- The New York Times – Japan Falls Into Recession, and Worse Lies Ahead