The Post-Cold War International System: An Indian Perspective

- Satish Kumar



The period of 45 years after World War II was marked by the emergence of new states and the universalisation of the international system. The system was held in balance by global rivalry and equilibrium between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. The equilibrium broke down with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The post-Cold War world was thus without a systemic equilibrium, which is essential to the maintenance of international stability.

Even after six years of the end of the Cold War, the world is groping for a new equilibrium, a new balance of power. What it amounts to is a struggle for a new distribution of power—political, economic and military. The struggle has taken the form of a conflict between the status-quoist attitude of those states which dominate the global power structure and the revisionist attitude of those which are excluded from these power structures. In effect, it is a quest for consolidation and legitimisation of the existing distribution of power on the part of some states. The rest of the world is quietly engaged in a struggle to alter the status quo and to bring into existence a just world order. The challenge of our times is whether this redistribution of power can be brought about by a peaceful consensus, or it must take place through a number of conflicts and convulsions, international and intra-national.

Henry Kissinger, in his recent book Diplomacy, makes a highly perceptive comment on the present state of affairs:

"The emergence of the European balance of power in the 18th and 19th centuries parallels certain aspects of the post-Cold War world. Then, as now, a collapsing world order spawned a multitude of states pursuing their national interests, unrestrained by any overriding principles. Then, as now, the states making up the international order were groping for some definition of their international role. Then the various states decided to rely entirely on asserting their national interests, putting their trust in the so-called unseen hand. The issue is whether the post-Cold War world can find some principle to restrain the assertion of power and self-interest. Of course, in the end, a balance of power always comes about de facto when several states interact. The question is whether the maintenance of the international system can turn into a conscious design, or whether it will grow out of a series of tests of strength."1

Dominance of the United States

The foremost feature of the post-Cold War world is the dominance of the United States, which is what leads many analysts to describe it as a "unipolar" world. Even during the Cold War years, when American power was rivalled by that of the Soviet Union in an historically unparalled manner, the United States considered itself as the superior power and, therefore, the leader of the world. But the urge for a leadership role, the maintenance of its position as the "number one power", has become much more pronounced after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In separate articles in the spring 1995 issue of Foreign Policy, the journal of the Carnagie Endowment for International Peace, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Senate majority leader Robert Dole, while presenting their respective visions for American foreign policy in the wake of the November 1994 Congressional elections, singled out one common derideratum: "American leadership." Between them, they used the world leadership (in one form or another) some 36 times.2 In its 1992 report, Changing Our Ways, the Carnegie Endowment National Commission on America and the New World treats leadership as a kind of noble duty. It says: "Twice before in this century the United States and our allies triumphed in a global struggle. Twice before we earned the right to be an arbiter of a post-war world. This is our third chance."3 Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, commenting on the May 1995 summit between President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, lamented that this was a missed opportunity for American leadership. Unless America leads, he added with a note of trepidation, it will be "marginalized."4

US as Number One Power

Despite the decline in America's share in the world Gross National Product (GNP) since 1945 (when it was 40 per cent), the United States ranks number one in GNP i.e. $6,727 billion, which is 23.9 per cent of the world total. The United States ranks number one in military expenditure in the world, which is $288,100 million, or 34.2 per cent of the world total. The United States' armed forces are the second largest in the world, after China, and they constitute 7.28 per cent of the world total. The United States is the biggest arms exporter in the world, and ranks number three in arms imports, after Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Military expenditure in the United States constitutes 18.8 per cent of the central government expenditure.5

Extension of Security Umbrella in Europe

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 enabled the Untied States to extend its security umbrella to Central and Eastern Europe and thereby consolidate its influence over Europe as a whole. The fears of Russia on the east and the united Germany on the west led the three Central European countries viz. Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, to hold a meeting in Visegrad, near Budapest in February 1991 and demand a closer integration with West European security organisations. In December 1991, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) created a new institution, viz. North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) as an interim arrangement until it was able to fulfil the desire of erstwhile adversaries in Central Europe to join NATO as new members, or got security guarantees from it. The NACC included all of NATO's former adversaries, and six of the Central Asian and Caucasian Republics, but excluded neutral and non-aligned states. With 38 members, the new organisation made no political decisions but permitted consultation on security related issues and offered opportunities for dialogue with NATO members.

In January 1994, the NATO summit evolved the concept of "Partnership for Peace" (PfP), which was envisaged as a mechanism for development of "cooperative military relations" between NATO and the erstwhile members of the Soviet bloc in Europe. The PfP members would have the opportunity to consult with NATO if they perceived a direct threat to their territorial integrity, political independence, or security. The PfP, it was stated, was "not designed against any one," as it excluded no one. By June 1995, 21 of the 27 eligible countries, including Russia, had joined the PfP. The PfP was thus a concrete step by the United States to include in its security fold the states of Central and Eastern Europe and to provide a transitional mechanism for their eventual membership of NATO. Three of these states, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, all of which have won credit with NATO by helping its Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia, are likely to be invited for NATO's membership by its summit meeting in July 1997 in the teeth of opposition by the Russian Federation.

Denial Regimes to Maintain Their Dominance

In order to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons technology and equipment by non-nuclear powers, the United States with the support of the existing nuclear powers, created from time to time technology denial regimes since 1949, when the Soviet Union emerged as the second country to conduct a nuclear explosion. The effectiveness of these regimes in denying access to nuclear technology, has, however, been highly questionable.

In 1949, a Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Control (COCOM) was created with the pupose of denying nuclear technology to countries of the Eastern bloc and China. In 1971, states parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) capable of exporting nuclear material and technology met under the chairmanship of a Swiss Professor, Claude Zangger, to draw up a list of nuclear materials, plants and equipment that should not be exported to non-nuclear weapon states. After India's nuclear explosion of 1974, a group of nuclear supplier states met in London from time to time between 1975 and 1977 and agreed on a list of nuclear materials, equipment and technology which must be used by the recipients only for peaceful purposes. Known as the London Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers, the agreed list and terms for implementing the guidelines were adopted in 1977 and revised in 1993.6 The group, which came to be known as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, (NSG) has been meeting regularly since 1977.7

In 1987, seven industrialised countries created the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) preventing the export of technologies and equipment that could be used to produce missiles with a range beyond 300 km (187 miles) and a payload in excess of 500 kg. (1,102 pounds). In 1992, the export guidelines were amended to cover also any missile capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons.8 In March 1994, the COCOM was disbanded by a decision taken at the G-7 summit, and on December 19, 1994, was replaced by a successor regime of nuclear denial called Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-use Goods and Technologies. This arrangement targetted a new set of countries located in the Korean Peninsula, the Persian Gulf and South Asia. (The Wassenaar Arrangement takes its name from the town outside the Hague where the negotiations took place).

Supporting Role of G-7, P-5 and N-5

The United States in the maintenance of its dominance has the support of industrially advanced countries of the world and together they control the political and military power structure in the post-Cold War international system. This is the second important feature of the post-Cold War world. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the chief contender of the United States. After the Cold War, the Russian Federation and China both became collaborators of the United States for many purposes, in the interest of their own military and economic security.

The G-7,9 which is led by the United States and includes the seven most industrialised countries of the world, tends to lay down macro-economic policy for the whole world. The Russian Federation which was being invited as a secondary participant in the meetings of G-7 for the last few years, was included as regular member of the Group at its summit meeting in Denver in June 1997. The North-centric approach of the G-8, as it is now called, is obvious from the fact that the summit meeting of the Group held in June 1995 in Nova Scotia (Canada) recommended a radical review of individual UN agencies, and singled out the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as bodies whose mandate required re-assessments in the light of changed economic circumstances and the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The G-8 has of late tended to use its economic clout to pressurise the rest of the world, particularly the countries of the South, on political and strategic issues too. For instance, the political declaration issued by the summit meeting in Nova Scotia in 1995 committed all signatories to desist from any collaboration with Iran on nuclear weapons capability. This declaration also contained an informal warning to India not to develop and deploy missiles.

The P-5, i.e., the five permanent members of the Security Council have also tended to adopt similar attitudes in the Secuirty Council on most political issues pertaining to international peace and security since the end of the Cold War. The foremost example were the resolutions pertaining to the Gulf war in 1990-91 which tended to serve the strategic interests of the United States. Their views on expansion of membership of the Security Council are also more of less the same, i.e., the time is not yet ripe for expansion of membership, in both permanent and non-permanent categories. If at all, there can be a limited expansion in the permanent category, by adding Germany and Japan to it. All of them, of course, support the expansion in principle.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are also the N-5, i.e., the five recognised nuclear weapon powers. With the United States as their leader, they are the status-quoist states in regard to the global power structure in military terms. Even though France and China became signatories to the NPT in 1992, they were both recognised as nuclear weapon powers in terms of the NPT in 1968, and hence entitled to unhindered qualitative and quantitative growth in their nuclear stockpiles. By implication, they became permanently entrenched in the privileged category of nuclear-haves as against the rest of the world which was obligated to abdicate the right to unchecked nuclear growth. These five powers are opposed to nuclear non-proliferation on a non-discriminatory basis.

Marginalisation of the South

The third defining feature of the post-Cold War world is the fragmentation and marginalisation of the South. Although the process of fragmentation of the South had begun in the 1980s, the countries of the South stand completely disunited and marginalised in world politics of today. The heyday of the unity of the South was the 1960s and 1970s. After the demise of the Soviet Union, its countervailing strategic and diplomatic support was no longer available. The leading countries of the South felt increasingly dependent on the support of the United States alone.

Besides, the economic success of the East Asian and South-East Asian states based on liberalised market oriented export-led models made it necessary for countries of the South to look toward the USA, Western Europe and Japan for investments, trade, and multilateral financial support. Their attitudes towards the developed North were formulated in terms of their national interest rather than the solidarity of the South, even if the dynamics of growth at the global level still necessitated common strategies on the part of the South. The leading countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia allowed themselves to be subjected to politico-economic pressures from the industrial North and were dissuaded from adopting unified positions on critical global issues. This was evident from the results of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations concluded in Marrakesh in April 1994, the NPT Extension Conference concluded in New York in May 1995, and the negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) concluded in New York in September 1996.

The dismal performance of the South in these conferences was a testimony to the decline and failure of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the G-77, and the G-15, the main institutions of the South formed and nurtured in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The summit conferences of the NAM in 1989, 1992, and 1995 have been confused about the goals of the movement. Stray calls made by members for redefining the objectives of the movement more sharply and precisely in the post-Cold War context have gone unheeded. The G-77 which came into existence mainly with the purpose of enhancing the collective bargaining strength of the South vis-a-vis the North on issues of trade and development proved its total irrelevance during the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. The G-15 which was conceived in 1989 to perform more efficiently the functions of the G-77 particularly with regard to North-South negotiations and South-South cooperation has performed no better than the larger group.

The economic plight of the South as a whole has continued to deteriorate and has become no better after the end of the Cold War, despite the fast economic growth of the East and South-East Asian regions. The Human Development Report of 1994 (UNDP) painted a grim picture of the South which is inhabited by the poorest of the world. According to this report, the gap between the rich and the poor of the world has tended to widen. As of 1993, the richest 20 per cent of humankind had control over 84.7 percent of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 84.2 percent of world trade, 85.5 percent of world domestic savings, and 85 percent of world domestic investment. As against this, the poorest 20 percent of humankind had control over 1.4 percent of world GDP, 0.9 percent of world trade, 0.7 percent of world domestic savings, and 0.9 percent of world domestic investment.10

In the area of debt payments, net financial transfers on long-term lending to developing countries have been negative. The industrial world, in the decade proceding 1994, received net transfers of $147 billion. The total external debt of the developing countries grew from $100 billion in 1970 to $650 billion in 1980, to more than $1,500 billion in 1992.11 In the area of trade, the developing countries suffered a loss of $50 billion a year—an amount nearly equal to the total flow of foreign assistance—because of trade restrictions by industrial countries.12

The Asia-Pacific as a New Sub-System

Until now, we have seen that the contours of the post-Cold War world can be identified in terms of the emergence of the United States as the most dominant single power, the large measure of support provided to it by the industrial countries of the West (including Japan) in the fulfilment of its political, military, and economic goals (despite their contradictions inter-se or vis-a-vis the USA), and fragmentation and further marginalisation of the South as a whole in the global power structure. The fourth feature of the post-Cold War world is the emergence of a new sub-system which may be called the Asia-Pacific.

The Asia-Pacific whose most vivid manifestation is the 18-nation Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) defies the known definition of a regional organisation whose membership is normally based on situational proximity in a distinct geographical region. Some of the unique characteristics of APEC are that its membership is as distant geographically as Canada and Papua-New Guinea, and as diverse economically as the United States (No.1 in GNP ranking) and Brunei (No.114 in GNP ranking). It has some of the largest economies of the world, e.g. the USA, Japan and China, and some of the fastest growing economies like Thailand, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea.13 It has among its members a mix of highly industrialised countries, newly industrialising countries, and developing countries.14

In view of these characteristics, the Asia-Pacific as a sub-system challenges the rather simplistic assumption that the North-South conflict has replaced the East-West conflict as the principal contradiction of the international system in the post-Cold War era. On the other hand, the Asia-Pacific sub-system arouses curiosity as to whether it can provide a bridge between the North and South, or act as a model for North-South cooperation.

These questions could invite a positive answer if the role of states like China, Indonesia and Malaysia was directed towards this end. Unfortunately, these countries which have a clout in the South and a certain leverage in the North are primarily concerned with the promotion of their narrow national interests, and not any structural reform of the world order. China has been pursuing the policy of ambiguity of status, identifying itself with the developing world and also acting as a big power, as and when its interests so demand. On issues like international trade, environment, human rights, it opposes the positions taken by the US-led coalition of industrial countries. On some other issues like expansion of permanent membership of the Security Council, or nuclear disarmament which should lead to de-nuclearisation of the five recognised nuclear weapon powers, its attitudes are akin to those of other members of the same club.

Similarly, the attitudes of Indonesia and Malaysia on questions like extension of the NPT (1995) and signing the CTBT (1996) do not indicate that they are willing to stand up to the pressures of the United States and work for a structural reform of the world order. And this despite the fact that Indonesia as Chairman of NAM (1992-95) was expected to articulate the interests of the developing world and Malaysia through the utterances of its Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed had given the impression that it would emerge as the crusador for the creation of a just world order.

Despite these aberrations, the Asia-Pacific sub-system provides hope that the North-South confrontation can be replaced by cooperation not on the basis of moral imperatives but common economic interests of both sides. A similar hope is provided by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), particularly if it is expanded to include more countries of South America. These sub-systems may not result in the creation of a just world order through sudden spurts of structural reforms. But they can certainly lead the world in that direction, through incremental changes based on give-and-take on specific issues.

United Nations in the Post-Cold War World

The fifth feature of the post-Cold War world is the hope generated about the renewed relevance of the United Nations. The end of the Cold War suddenly witnessed a much reduced use of the veto by permanent members of the Security Council. The most spectacular evidence of this was the consensus among the permanent five members in favour of enforcement action against Iraq during the Gulf war of 1991, and the resolution which led to imposition of sanctions against Iraq. This led to a spirited declaration by the US President, George Bush, that a New World Order was in the offing.

In hindsight, it is obvious that a New World Order did not mean the same thing to India and most other countries of the developing world as it meant to the United States. To the United States, which has been proud of the fact that it achieved its strategic goals vis-a-vis Iraq so conveniently, the end of the Cold War provided a splendid opportunity to use the United Nations to carve out a world of its own design. The fundamental feature of this design would be American "hegemony", which has been euphemistically described in American writings as American "leadership". To India, the end of the Cold War provided a unique opportunity to create a more democratic and just world order.

Such a world order would have to be based on a central role for the United Nations, which could now function effectively because of much less provocation for the permanent members to cast their veto. The United Nations could now be invested with much greater authority in the maintenance of international security as well as promotion of global development. For this, of course, the United Nations would have to be made more democratic, both in its composition and procedures.

This is where India's vision of the role of the United Nations in the post-Cold War world came into conflict with that of the United States and its coalition partners. As the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations was approaching, and the debate about reforming or strengthening the United Nations acquired momentum, the United States and its coalition partners were found to be opposed to democratisation of the United Nations. They wanted to retain the United Nations as their handy instrument, to be used without obstruction as and when needed. During the Iran-Kuwait conflict of 1990-91, the Western coalition found it possible to successfully use the United Nations because the collapse of the Soviet Union had cast a spell of US supremacy all over the world leading to subservience of even those powers that would normally resist. When it came to conflict situations in Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia, the United States did not think it necessary to provide sufficient support to the United Nations, or act through the United Nations. The classic example was that of Bosnia, where, in 1995, the United States decided to act outside the United Nations framework, under the auspices of NATO. The purpose here was not to worry about weakening the legitimacy of the United Nations, but to utilise the opportunity to enhance the legitimacy of NATO.

Similarly, on economic issues, it suits the West to continue to rely on Bretton Woods institutions rather than the United Nations institutions (e.g. Economic and Social Council—ECOSOC) for macro-economic management of the world. The Western industrial countries have a stronger and decisive voice in the decision-making structures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Both these institutions are not accountable to the ECOSOC or the General Assembly of the United Nations, which are representative and democratic bodies. Over the years, the ECOSOC was rendered ineffective by the industrial countries by not giving it the importance that it deserved. Its meetings were attended by low-level representatives. Its size (it consists of 54 members; the original membership was 18) was blamed for its indecisiveness. When the world was debating the reform of the United Nations on the occasion of its fifthieth anniversary, the Commission on Global Governanance (headed by Ramphal and Carlsson) recommended the creation of an Economic Security Council consisting of 23 members, and the Independent Group on the Future of the United Nations (Yale University) recommended the creation of two separate bodies, an Economic Council and a Social Council, each consisting of 23 members. Both recommendations begged the question as to why the rich countries refused to give to ECOSOC the central role that was conceived for it in the original scheme of the United Nations.

The countries of the South would no doubt like the United Nations to emerge as the centre-piece of the New World Order. But the South has neither the capacity to bring about change in this direction, nor has so far developed a common position on it. The South Commission headed by Julius Nyerere made some fragmentary efforts to articulate the position of the South on these questions in the form of some studies. But the resources, leadership, and leverage possessed by the South to get these ideas accepted by the world are far too inadequate. The South would prefer a change in the world order by design rather than by default. What is needed in this respect is change of attitudes more than change of institutions.

The Future World Order

While the end of the Cold War opened up possibilities of re-ordering the world to accord with changed realities since World War II, the basic parameters of the post-Cold War world as outlined above impose severe limitations on the extent to which any re-ordering can take place. There is no doubt that the West, whose relative dominance became more pronounced after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has begun to recognise the challenges that its continuous dominance faces. It even builds scenaries in which the dominance would be shared, in the 21st century, by other regions and nations of the world. But in doing so, the Western scholars are not offering solutions which would allow a smooth and orderly transition from a Western dominated world to a world with a more equitable distribution of power. And that, because the Western scholars misperceive the causes of discontent in the non-Western world.

The Clash of Civilisations

For instance, Samuel Huntington of the Harvard University, in his stimulating but controversial article: "The Clash of Civilizations"15 hypothesises that conflicts of the future will not be primarily ideological or economic but primarily cultural, and the "fault lines" of the future will be not between nations but between civilisations. The greatest impending conflict, according to him, is between Christianity and Islam. Although he does admit that the present distribution of power in the world is highly distorted, the global political and security issues being settled by a directorate of the United States, Britain and France, and the global economic issues by a directorate of the United States, Germany and Japan, he fails to relate the discontent in the non-Western world to this distortion. He misperceives the rejection of the West-dominated international system by China, India and large parts of the Islamic world as emanating from contradictions between Confucian, Hindu and Islamic civilisations, on the one hand, and Christian civilisation, on the other. In reality, the rejection is a manifestation of the urge of the people living in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other non-Western regions to find their due place in the world power structure. The reality has been quite aptly summed up by Graham Fuller of the Rand Corporation:

"Civilization clash is not so much over Jesus Christ, Confucius, or the Prophet Mohammed as it is over the unequal distribution of world power, wealth, and influence, and the perceived lack of respect accorded to small states and peoples by larger ones. Culture is the vehicle for expression of conflict, not its cause."16

Towards a New Equilibrium

Scholars like Brzezinski and Kissinger, the two outstanding Western intellectuals of our time, and serious journals like the Economist, have tended to recognise the possibility of a shift in the power balance from the Western to the non-Western world in the 21st century. For instance, according to Brzezinski, the probable power clusters which will "collude, cooperate, and compete with one another within the more interdependent but still unstable global political process" are likely to be: North America, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, a shapeless Muslim Crescent, and Eurasia.17

According to Kissinger, the international system of the 21st century will be marked by a seeming contradiction: on the one hand, fragmentation; on the other, growing globalisation. The new order will be more like the European state system of the 18th and 19th centuries than the rigid patterns of the Cold War. It will have at least six major powers i.e. the United States, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, and probably India, as well as a multiplicity of medium sized and smaller countries. The relative military power of the United States will gradually decline.18

The Economist in 1994 predicted a big shift in the economic power balance in the next 25 years. Over the next 10 years, developing countries (including the former Soviet bloc) will grow by nearly 5 percent a year, compared with a rate of 2.7 per cent in the rich industrial world. If output is measured on the basis of purchasing power parities, then the developing countries and former Soviet bloc already account for 44 percent of world output. At current growth rates, the industrial economies will account for less than half of world output by the end of the decade. Applying the World Bank's regional forecasts to individual countries, within a generation (by 2020), China will overtake America as the world's biggest economy, followed by the United States, Japan, and India. As many as nine of the top 15 economies will be from today's Third World.19

Will the North Coopt the South?

The developed countries of the North located mainly in the Americas and Western Europe and including Japan have begun to pay attention to the newly industrialised countries of Asia in recent years for reasons of their self-interest. The keen interest taken by the West in the formation of APEC and the activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Asia-Europe summit meetings held in the last two years, and frequent visits of American Presidents to Asian capitals are testimony to the fact that the trade and investment potential of these countries cannot be ignored. And yet, the military potential of these countries is something which the West would be extremely cautious to enhance. In the military sense, most of the newly developed Asia is still a "protection" zone of America which would not like these countries to emerge as independent actors. Nor would it like these countries to be included in the top level power structures like the Security Council permanent membership or the nuclear club.

In fact, the Western strategic thinking has not yet been able to grasp the nature of transition taking place in the world. While the end of the Cold War marked one take-off point for this transition, the emergence of the newly industrialised Asia-Pacific region marked another. In the case of the Cold War, the West has recognised the end of ideological competition with the former Soviet Union, but has not been able to resist the continuation of geo-political competition. The insistence of the West to extend NATO membership to Central and Eastern Europe, and Russian helplessness in the matter has led to the reassertion of Russian and Chinese strategic affinity.

Similarly, the West is trying to deal with the newly industrialised Asia-Pacific region without paying attention to the rest of the developing world. The Asia-Pacific Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs), while serving their vital interests through economic alliances with the West, yet have common perceptions with the rest of the developing world on a number of global issues. In any case, we cannot think of a stable world order in the future unless the developing world as a whole has a due place in it.

What will be the attitude of the North? A strategy that has been suggested by a group of scholars led by Paul Kennedy, as being in the best interests of the United States, is that the United States, rather than worrying about the whole developing world, should concentrate on "stabilizing" the "pivotal" states in the South. A "pivotal" state has been defined as one which has the "capacity to affect regional and international stability."

"A pivotal state is so important regionally that its collapse would spell transboundary mayhem: migration, communal violence, pollution, disease, and so on. A pivotal state's steady economic progress and stability, on the other hand, would bolster its region's economic vitality and political soundness and benefit American trade and investment."20

The pivotal states identified for the present are: Mexico and Brazil; Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa; Turkey; India and Pakistan; and Indonesia.21

Concluding Remarks

Whether the strategy of stabilising the "pivotal states" rather than worrying about the whole South will work is open to question. What is of critical importance is that a new world order which should be democratic and just, should emerge by design rather than by default. And this cannot happen only through institutional change, whether in the United Nations or elsewhere. What is needed is an attitudinal change on the part of the countries which control power structures. In this process, the pace of change is important. The poor and hungry of the world, irrespective of the civilisation of the nation to which they belong, will not wait too long. More and more of them will join the ranks of those who reject the values and norms which are considered to be the bedrock of stability. The prosperous ones will have only themselves to blame.



1. Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, (New York: 1994, pp. 76-77.

2. See Jonathan Clarke, "Leaders and Followers," Foreign Policy, no. 101, Winter 1995-96, p.38.

3. Ibid., p. 39.

4. Ibid.

5. All these figures are computed from the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1995, April 1996, pp. 42-53, and p.99.

6. The United Nations and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, (New York: Department of Public Information, United Nations, 1995) pp. 17-18.

7. As of November 1995, the Nuclear Supplier's Group included all NATO countries (except Turkey and Iceland), Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Commission. See Jorn Ggelstad and Olav Njolstad, Nuclear Rivalry and International Order (London: 1996) p. 142, n. 4.

8. n. 6, p. 18.

9. These seven countries which are among the ten countries with highest GDP in the world are: USA, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, and Canada. The other three countries among the top ten are China, Russia and Brazil.

10. UNDP, Human Development Report 1994, p.63.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid., p.66.

13. Between 1989 and 1993, the average annual rates of growth of these countries were: Thailand 9.5 percent, Malaysia 8.6 percent, China 8.2 percent, Singapore 8 percent, Indonesia 6.9 percent and South 6.8 percent.

14. The members of APEC are Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korean (South), Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States.

15. Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49.

16. Graham Fuller, "The Next Ideology", Foreign Policy, Spring 1995, no. 98, pp. 153-54.

17. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control (New York: 1993) pp. 207-8.

18. Kissinger, n.1, pp. 23-24.

19. "A Survey of the Global Economy," The Economist, October 1-7, 1994, pp.3-6.

20. Robert S. Chase, Emily B. Hill, and Paul Kennedy, "Pivotal States and US Strategy," Foreign Affairs, vol. 75, no.1, January/February 1996, p.37.

21. Ibid.