The Developing Of A Global Tri-Polarity

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India and the Global South positioned as a potential Cold War bridge between the US and EU, versus China and Russia

By Andrew Korybko

Edited with additional commentary by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based, American political analyst. He has recently published an article concerning the potential for a Tri-Polar based world order to emerge from the current Unipolar order de facto lead by the United States. In it he discusses how a global systemic transition is occurring between the US-led Western ‘Golden Billion,’ the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South, each becoming the most prominent hubs in international relations, below which would be other rising powers and regional groups.

These three blocs would balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels, which could stabilize global affairs with greater effectiveness than the current global management system.

We reproduce his commentary on this below. It has been edited and adapted for ease of reading. The original article is here.

Towards Tri-Polarity

International Relations are hurtling towards tri-polarity at an astounding pace as a result of the events that have unfolded concerning a potential new Cold War over the past year.

Background: The “New Détente”

To oversimplify the confluence of these complex trends, the United States prioritized a containment of Russia in order to facilitate its containment of China, encouraging this by provoking a Moscow response and its subsequent, ongoing ‘special operation’ in Ukraine. Throughout the course of the NATO-Russian proxy war has followed, the US has successfully asserted its unipolar hegemony over the EU while destabilizing the globalized system upon which China’s overall strategy depends, thus giving it an edge over Beijing.

This in turn prompted Chinese President Xi to initiate an attempted “New Détente” during mid-November’s G20 Summit in Bali, during which time he hoped that China and the US could eventually reach a series of mutual compromises aimed at establishing a “new normal” in their ties. The purpose behind doing so was to delay the end of the bi-multipolar world order within which these two superpowers exerted the most influence over International Relations, which has been challenged by India’s rise over the past year.

India’s Game-Changing Influence

India has become a globally significant Great Power during this time, as a result of its balancing act between the US-led West’s ‘Golden Billion’ and the joint BRICS – SCO led Global South of which India is a part. India’s kingmaker role in the New Cold War over the direction of the global systemic transition is enabling the rest of the Global South to rise in India’s wake, revolutionizing International Relations by accelerating the emergence of tri-multipolarity. (Ed: India has a significant growing trade and influence in Africa, as do China and Russia, who have also made serious inroads into Latin America).

This sequence of events has given the Sino-American “New Détente” a sense of urgency since both the US and China have self-interests for regaining joint control of these processes, though their attempted rapprochement was unexpectedly derailed by the balloon incident. The resultantly renewed influence of hardline factions over policymaking that occurred in the aftermath of that abruptly ended their talks and instead placed them on a trajectory of intense rivalry.

China’s Grand Strategic Recalculations

In parallel with these developments, NATO has stated it is in a “race of logistics and war of attrition” with Russia, which implies that NATO will redouble its military support to Kiev even at the expense of meeting its own members’ minimum national security needs. Should NATO succeed in making a breakthrough along the Line of Control (LOC), then it could catalyze the worst-case scenario of Russia’s “Balkanization” if those disadvantageous military-strategic dynamics spiral out of control. (Ed: This would see war break out in the European Balkans. The situation between Serbia and Kosovo remains extremely tense, as it does in Moldova).

President Putin recently warned about that possibility, which remains unlikely for now but does contribute to China’s gradual recalibration of its approach to the NATO-Russian proxy war when coupled with the end of the “New Détente”. This has directly led to China considering the dispatch of weapons to Russia to offset that worst-case scenario, and has subsequently prompted sanctions threats from the West in return.

“The Great Trifurcation”

In the event that China feels forced by NATO to aid Russia in such a way and the Golden Billion imposes sanctions against it in response, it can be expected that a US-initiated Chinese-European “decoupling” along the lines of the current US-initiated Russian-European one could follow. Reuters’ report last week cites four unnamed US officials and other sources by revealing that the Golden Billion is indeed discussing multilateral sanctions against China.

Should those two developments take place – China arming Russia and then being sanctioned by the West in a way that provokes their “decoupling” – gradual or instantaneous – then International Relations would enter a period of tri-multipolarity characterized by the prominence of three hubs that exert the most influence over global affairs, but whose influence nevertheless wouldn’t be absolute since this would be kept in check by other rising powers and regional groups.

A Tri-Polar World Order

These three expected hubs are the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South. These would continue assembling into a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”).  Within the Global South, rising powers such as Brazil, Iran, South Africa, and Turkiye, among others, would coordinate alongside regional groups such as the African Union, ASEAN, and the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur.

Each of these three categories – the three hubs as well as the rising powers and regional groups that sit below the former in this informal international hierarchy – could balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels. India’s role will be the most important of them all since it’s poised to facilitate trade between the Golden Billion and the Sino-Russo Entente in the event that their potential “decoupling” is taken to an extreme: India would become a ‘Cold War’ bridge between East and West.

India’s Kingmaker Role

India’s January hosting of the Voice Of Global South Summit positioned New Delhi as the center of gravity for its fellow developing peers, which bolsters the likelihood that the Neo-NAM would continue informally assembling around it. From there, India can promote its own financial, technological, and other platforms in order to provide Global South states with a neutral third choice between the Golden Billion and the Sino-Russo Entente’s respective ones in the New Cold War.

Those rising powers and regional groups that participate within the unofficially Indian-led Neo-NAM would also develop their own platforms, but India’s might become the standard for facilitating engagement between them at their early stages. In parallel, global forums such as the United Nations and G20 would no longer have significance other than functioning as talk clubs, while interests-driven and regional groups will replace their prior role in promoting tangible cooperation between countries.

Concluding Thoughts

The global systemic transition’s impending evolution towards tri-polarity could see the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South becoming the most prominent poles in International Relations, below which would be rising powers and regional groups. All actors would balance one another by multi-aligning within and between their respective levels, which might result in stabilizing global affairs much more than the prior unipolar and bi-multipolar orders did.

Editorial Comment

Andrew Korybko’s analysis of how the geopolitical position could change global affairs is an interesting one – and supported by current developments. Much however revolves around the outcome of the Ukraine conflict – and especially China’s indirect involvement in that. It does appear on one hand that Washington would like to see this happen – prompting the EU to both impose sanctions upon China while at the same time facilitating additional EU dependence upon the United States. The two being styled as ‘The Golden Billion’ is especially apt as the West currently controls about 60% of global GDP despite having about 15% of the total global population. By United Nations own measurement standards, that is a significant amount of global inequality. What is occurring therefore is a global struggle for improved wealth disbursement – the Golden Billion being unwilling to relinquish power as this would lead to a reduction in wealth.

This means 85% of the global population owning just 40% of global wealth – revolutionary talk familiar to the socialist economies of China and Russia especially.

The real question therefore that Korybok addresses – but doesn’t entirely answer, is whether a transition from a Unipolar to a Trilateral world order would in fact result in wealth redistribution. This question leads back to two other major components – energy supplies, and technological superiority.

At present, the hydrocarbon balance among Russia-China and their significant energy allies has the upper hand. Yet ultimately this is a diminishing resource, and the major driver towards green energy, and especially solar and new types of fusion. In terms of technological superiority, we are already seeing the battle for this play out as the US sanctions Chinese investment and purchases of critical development tools.

Accordingly, while I view the development of a tri-polar world emerging as plausible, and the author regards this as preferable for security reasons, I do not see it as a game-changer in terms of global wealth distribution. But what it would do, in terms of infrastructure development and capital financing, is concentrate this upon India and the immediate sub-continent including Central Asia. That is already happening in part with China’s investments into CPEC in Pakistan, and joint Sino-Russia investment into Central Asia.

However, positioning India as the third side of a triangle requires Delhi – and Indian MNCs to be far more adventurous in their overseas capital investments. The country remains somewhat insular in its regard towards outbound investment, and in turn, obtaining influence. Whether India plc has the legs to stand as an economic and regional bulwark between the ‘Golden Billion’ and the Sino-Russia axis remains the outstanding issue.

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