Three weeks ago, Vladimir Putin said that the U.S is trying to create a «unipolar world». Putin and Russia has used an address commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany to accuse the U.S of attempting to dominate the world.
Putin invited many world leaders to Russia`s annual Victory Day parade in Red Square on May 9, 2015, but this year it was boycotted by western leaders over the continuing crisis in Ukraine. «Unipolar World» is a phrase that is often used by Russia to criticise the U.S for purportedly attempting to dominate world affairs.
Putin is not alone. Fidel Castro released his new book «Cold War – A warning for a unipolar world» in September 1, 2003. He said: “To endure the global struggle between the superpowers is bad. To live under the total hegemony of one of them is worse.”
The U.S President, Barack Obama and Germany`s Angela Merkel didn`t come. Neither did other Western leaders like UK`s Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. Moscow has increasingly appeared to pivot away from Europe and focus more on developing relations with China.
The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, was the most high-profile guest on the podium next to Putin. Other presidents in attendance included India`s Pranab Mukherjee, Presiden Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Raul Costro of Cuba, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
«The boycott illustrates the depth and breadth of the chasm now separating Russia and the West,» said Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Russia used the parade to show for the fist time a RS-24 Yars ICBM launcher, which Moscow has said described as a response to U.S and NATO anti-missile system.
More than 70% of Russians say a close family member was killed during the World War II, making Victory Day an emotional symbol of unity for the nation. The Soviet Union lost about 27 million soldiers and civilians, and that`s more than any other country.
Xi said that when this victory is celebrated it`s not «for hating some states» but to «establish peace on this planet together».
But what is Putin trying to say when he claims that the U.S is trying to create «Unipolar World?»
Unipolarity in international politics is a distribution of power in which one state exercises most of the cultural, economic, and military influence. Unipolarity is an interstate system and not an Empire. Unipolarity implies the existence of many juridically equal non-states, something that an empire denies.
Unipolarity is anarchical. Anarchy results from the incomplete power preponderance of the unipole. Kenneth Waltz, argues that a great power cannot «exert a positive control everywhere in the world.» Therefore, relatively weaker countries have the freedom to pursue policy preferences independent of the unipole.
Unipolar systems posses only one great power and face no competition. If a competitor emerges, the international system is no longer unipolar. Kenneth Waltz maintain that the United States is the only «pole» to possess global interests.
The first thinker to anticipate both the unipoar and the American Primacy seems to be the Chinese Philosopher, Kàng Yu-wei. (Alexis de Tocqueville in the mid-Nineteenth century had expected the bipolar world centered on America and Russia but had not advanced beyond bipolarity).
In 1885, Kàng Yu-wei published his One World Philosophy, where he based his vision on the evidence of political expansion which began in the immemorial past and went in his days on. He concludes:
“Finally, the present Powers of the world were formed. This process of coalescing and forming fewer, larger units has all taken place among the 10,000 countries over several thousand years. The progression from dispersion to union among men, and the principle whereby the world is gradually proceeding from being partitioned off to being opened up, is a spontaneous working of the Way of Heaven (or Nature) and human affairs.”
No factor, he believed, in the long run could resist the “laws of empires”.
K’ang Yu-wei projects the culmination of the ongoing world unification with the final confrontation between the United States and Germany: “Some day America will take in all the states of the American continent and Germany will take in all the states of Europe. This will hasten the world along the road to One World.”
K’ang Yu-wei belonged to a civilization, which experienced the millennia-long unipolar order. He knew how in his civilization it emerged and several times reemerged. Naturally, his theory is very realist, deep, and developed relatively to his Western contemporaries convinced in the universality of the balance of power or, at most, having abstract ideas of the Parliament of Men and the Federation of the World.
The first Western scientist who drew a hypothesis of the forthcoming unipolar world order and the American primacy seems to be the French Demographer, George Vacher de Lapouge, with his L`Avenir des Aryens published in 1901.
Similarly to K’ang Yu-wei, he outlined the logistic growth of empires from the Bronze Age till his days, when “six states govern… three-quarters of the globe,” and concluded:
“The moment is close when the struggle for the domination of the world is going to take place.”
Vacher de Lapouge did not bet on Washington and Berlin in the final contest for world domination like K’ang Yu-wei. Similarly to Tocqueville, he guessed the Cold War contenders correctly but he went one step further. He estimated the chances of the United States as favorite in the final confrontation:
“The reign of Europe is over, well over… The future of France seems less certain but it is unnecessary to become illusioned… I do not believe by the way that Germany might count for a much longer future… We could… envisage… the possibility that England and her immense Empire comes to surrender to the United States. The latter… is the true adversary of Russia in the great struggle to come… I also believe that the United States is appealed to triumph. Otherwise, the universe would be Russian.”.
The vision of Vacher de Lapouge from 1901 was born out. The United States is the only country in the early 21st century that possesses the ability to project military power on a global scale, providing it full command of the global commons.
With no viable challenger on the horizon in the short-term, the current distribution of power overwhelmingly favors the United States, making the world order it set out to construct in 1945 more robust.
The question that remains for international relations theorists is how long this “unipolar moment” will last. One theory of the world order claims that persistent bipolar and multipolar orders passed their event horizon and onward unipolarity will only be interrupted by very rare “multipolar moments,” albeit not necessarily under the American primacy.
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