Conflict with the multipolar world

Nikola Popovski

The collapse of the bipolar world in the late 1980s and early 1990s opened up new opportunities for many countries to try to find their place in the world that is being rearranged. Some, like the United States, tried to make it unipolar and this seemed possible in the mid-1990s, but soon the old powers like Russia appeared once again, some new ones like China gradually paved their way, and others, like the EU, have been trying to internalize the accelerated integration and reinforce uniformity (from the EEC to the EU) in order to become important world factors.

Some new global integration processes embodied in the Shanghai Agreement, BRICS and the like appear on the world stage, and some existing ones, such as NATO, are expanding at a rapid pace, and now we are living in a world in which almost every sixth country is a member of this military alliance. Powerful economic organizations such as the WTO or NAFTA face challenges that they can not function in the way they were conceived, and some like the EU are trying to find the optimum of the inevitability so that no other Brexit can occur to them. The Arab world and its wider Islamic surroundings is being restructured in many ways – starting with the teardown of the regimes in Iraq and Libya about 15 years ago, through the processes of the Arab Spring that began or were imposed ten years ago, and today’s civil and religious wars are still raging or threatening in at least several countries, to the constant presence of violence in the form of terrorism and brutality that endangers the “bare lives” of people. The radical policies of internationally backed Israel are growing in their surroundings.

The number of states that have military nuclear arsenals and ballistic missiles that can transport them to long-haul destinations has increased and are likely to continue to increase despite the various pressures existing on countries like Iran and DPR Korea. In this way, the world is likely to become increasingly unsafe. On the other hand, according to demographic estimates of the United Nations in the next 4-5 years India will become the largest country in the world and China’s traditional dominance in that domain will disappear. The new longer-term demographic movements in the world were also so unpredictable and unexpected until recently. They are known, and most importantly, they will not be caused only by restructuring within the natural movement of the population, but also by its mechanical movement in the world. The consequences of this are already noticeable on daily basis, while the future consequences can become dramatic if something serious does not happen and if basically the migration from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, as well as the migration from Central and South America to the United States, is not stopped.

The world economic and financial order and the existence of liberal trade are struggling to keep themselves in somewhat predictable boundaries, although this is becoming less and less achievable. Possible new crises loom at every step. It’s not that the world will face traumatic economic problems, but its carefree and comfortable further growth will no longer be possible. In conditions of growing and very serious trade wars; fresh commercial, economic and financial sanctions imposed everywhere on daily basis, financial and currency threats; growing non-economic risks, etc. one can not expect that the world economy or the conditions for progress will be favorable. The consequences from the US-China trade war still have a huge impact in both countries, as well as in the global economy. The instability of large economies such as the Turkish, Argentine, Russian, and the consequences of the UK’s exit from the EU are still being calculated.

The newly created conditions in the direction of a much greater multilateralism in the world gave the impression of some great powers, especially in the United States, that their position in the world is jeopardized and that it needs to be re-conquered. This led them to think that the time had come to handle it, maybe even fight with the growing multi-polar world. Anyone who has any conflicting political, military, diplomatic, economic, financial and other interests must get rid of them. Otherwise, it will face political, military, diplomatic, economic, financial and other sanctions.

In such circumstances, small and vulnerable states become “lost”. They literally do not know which way to turn, how to behave or with whom to cooperate. Whatever they decide to do, some will support them, but many will threaten that such behavior will have negative consequences on them. They are constantly exposed to the risks of growing and confrontational multilateralism in the world. See what happens to the small Balkan states. No matter who they are and where they belong. All of them are facing too many challenges and problems. They would all want to be part of the EU and NATO and thus avoid global and regional turbulence. But it does not go that easy.

There are many other interests on their aspirations. China, for example, would like to have a dominant or at least enormous economic impact, so for that purpose it floods the Balkans with state loans, projects in energy and transport infrastructure (railways, highways, ports). Russia, in principle, opposes and actively acts to prevent any future expansion of NATO on the peninsula, and at the same time to supply its energy resources, especially with natural gas. The United States, in return, expects the Balkan states to always be fully cooperative with each other’s interests, even when it is damaging for them. Even the EU constantly wants something and expects it, but it never risks anything and does not do anything significant. So, when Serbia and Kosovo want to agree on any new mutual borders by the United States, they are told that they “do not have complete freedom” in doing that, and the EU does not have a clear position like when, for example, there was a military intervention aimed at, de facto creating new borders.

The case with Macedonia is even more indicative. In addition to the great global and regional challenges that our barely two-million, robbed and poor country has to deal with every day, it has too many and too difficult domestic challenges and problems, some of which are traditional, and most of them new and not objective, but are caused by its own ignorance, indolence, negligence and inexperience, and even intent. Now it has again shown weakness and therefore faces the old regional problems in which everyone wants to take some part of us and leave us with nothing. Macedonia begs, gives, apologizes, forgives, keeps silent, suffers, loses.

Global, regional, neighborly and internal riots have come to an end. What to do next? Should we at least to seek some basic internal consensus, or should we go in the direction of risking everything? If we choose the latter, then the consequences can be exactly that – everything.


Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik