The international system and regional coalitions [Archives:2008/1153/Opinion]

May 8 2008

By: Abdullah Isehaq
The international system has been experiencing a state of unrest and imbalance since fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and birth of the single polar power, demonstrated by the United States' attempts to dominate the international decision, even at the expense of the international legitimacy. The superpower's attempts also violate regulations of the United Nations, and a clear-cut example in testimony of this is the invasion of Iraq.

It is normal for the United States to seek and aspire for such an international role due to its strong capacity and great role in machinating collapse of the Soviet regime. As a result, the international positions ranged between absolute consent, under the U.S. leadership and hesitation to oppose the superpower's policies and tactics. Many world governments appeared hesitant to oppose the American policies because of being unable to confront the superpower or waiting for the anticipated results that would be reached by the U.S. leadership. Those results might be commendable achievements or failure in the area of international peace and security, as well as resolving the heated conflicts, or any potential conflicts expected to take place in more than one area.

The September 11th events of 2001 came to give the U.S. Administration an additional driving force toward the one-side opinion and decision under the cover of “Fighting Terrorism”. The concept of fighting terrorism was introduced to practically abolish the principle of states' sovereignty within the limit of their borders, and therefore led to increasing the U.S. military presence in different parts of the world without taking into consideration interests of the other international powers, as well as the interests of the smaller states that pay the price for any subsequent damage.

As there is no international power more able to confront the American dominance and compensate for the international imbalance, coupled with other multiple factors, the role of regional coalitions has begun to grow at the international level after it was about to disappear over the past few years.

What is also of great importance to the international system and regional coalitions is the history of the relations between states in peace and war, and the development of the international system since 1900. This history include topics such as the pre – 1914 system, the balance of power and causes of the first World Warm, the effects of the peace settlement and the rise of liberal and realist approaches to international relations, collective security and the League of Nations System, political and economic cooperation in the interwar period, the USA, Soviet Union, Middle East, and Far East in the interwar years and the impact of domestic politics and ideology on foreign policy. It also covers causes of the Second World War, the relationship between politics and strategy in the Second World War, post-war reconstruction and the origins of the Cold War, the evolution of the Cold War, decolonization and self-determination, regional conflicts, integration in Western Europe, detente and the end of security institutions, and international relations in the post Cold War world.

In this context, we have realized remarkable enhancement and activation for the role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia and China, along with other four states of Central Asia. Recently, Iran joined the organization as an observing member, plus many countries overlooking the Caspian Sea, and hosted the most recent summit for the organization in last October. This summit was held in the presence of the Russian President during its first visit to Tehran, which was pondered upon as historic and vital to improving relations between both neighboring countries.

Including ten Asian states, the League of Southeast Asian States represents one of the most important coalitions in the world's largest continent in terms of area and population. At the league's most recent summit, hosted by Singapore on the 20th of last November, the member states signed a new pact, as a legal frame to form an economic cartel for more than half a billion souls. The summit aims to establish a free economic zone by the advent of 2015, thereby enhancing presence and influence of this cartel in the areas of economy, world trade and international decision making.

Having a glance at the timing and expansion of such an international and regional activity at various levels and in different parts of the world, it seems that there is parturition due to be ensued by birth of a new international system. This system is expected to be more fair and stable and may not help in dividing the world into two competitive poles like what happened during the Cold War. On the contrary, the new international system doesn't allow a single power to control fate of the world and its capabilities or abolish the role of other international and regional powers.

The parturition may be so difficult, or may take a long time before completing the embryonic stage. But in event a new international system is born, which is more likely to happen, the whole world will be safer and more stable.

Source: Al-Thawra State-Run Daily