Bernard Guetta: Two Remedies for the Face-off Between Two Worlds

2023-10-23 | Geopolitical analysis

With two worlds facing each other, it looks like the Cold War, but it is much more worrying than the Cold War was. On one side, Europe, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Japan: the Democracies, on the other, China, Russia and whole swathes of Asia, Africa and Latin America – all that part of the world (the “Global South”, as it is so falsely called) that sees the time as ripe to take historic revenge by hastening the end of five centuries of Western hegemony.

The war in Ukraine drew this dividing line, and the drama that Hamas unleashed with its massacre on 7 October straight away confirmed its trail. Those who do not want Russia to be defeated in Ukraine because they fear losing a major partner do not want Hamas to be broken up either, because that would indirectly be a victory for the West over Iran, the Arab world and Russia.

Two camps are clearly battling out, but the big difference with the East-West confrontation is that it is no longer a question of ideology but of power rivalries, and neither side has a champion any more, because there are no longer any masters of the game, neither incontestable nor uncontested. Capitalism has triumphed everywhere. It is the dominant ideology, and we must now speak of political convergences rather than blocs, since the United States no longer claims to rule the world, not even its allies; since two of the ‘Brics’, India and China, are to Asia what France and Germany were to Europe; since the alliance between Moscow and Beijing disguises an age-old mistrust; and since Europe, having lost faith in American protection, wants to assert itself as an autonomous power.

This century is being born into the double chaos produced by the simultaneous end of the Cold War and Western supremacy. There is no longer any international order, no longer any universally accepted rules, no longer any obvious balance of power, and no longer any balance of terror, because the powers want to regain or maintain their influence and nuclear proliferation is leading to the unthinkable.

So what is to be done?

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