From Bipolar to Unipolar and Now Tripolar World


After the Second World War, the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) emerged as the two superpowers in the world. From the Red and White kingdoms of the Nile Civilization, there have always been two superpowers in the world. One would be politically/ideologically powerful while the other would be economically strong, all through history. So it happened that the US-led capitalist camp became economically dominant while socialism/communism ideology of the Soviet bloc was feared by the capitalist camp as it was the ideology the masses used to challenge the status quo. It was a bipolar world.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, communism as an ideology was relegated to the background. That was how ethnic/religious identities became the rallying point of those trying to mobilize to challenge the status quo in most countries around the world. The US, for some time, became the sole superpower as the Soviet bloc declined and even decayed due to internal contradictions and external manipulations. The triumph of the capitalist camp and the herald of a unipolar world, however, did not witness an era of peace but a much more complex challenges for the existing order. It was a matter of time for another global order to overtake the American-led unipolar world.

Like the Roman empire, what made America unique was its ability to attract talents and skills from all over the world, as well as its strong institutions that guarantee freedom and fairness for every individual. Any society that does not receive and accommodate outsiders hospitably as well as treat those inside it justly can never aspire to greatness. It was Shehu Usman DanFodio, the founder of Sokoto Caliphate, who once wrote that a kingdom can endure with justice even if it is atheist but a kingdom cannot endure with injustice even if it believes in God. That is why justice is central to the peace and progress of any society or nation.

A combination of factors is set to diminish the uniqueness and prestige of America as a sole superpower and the same factors are seeing the emergence of a tripolar world consisting of America, Russia and China. But this tripolar world may just be a transition to a new bipolar world. The first factor is the emergence of Donald Trump as US President this year. No one expected Trump to be voted for by the Americans in a presidential election. He represents everything that is opposite of the American values. He fought and antagonized every institution – his party, American traditional allies, the media, the intelligence community, the military and now even the judiciary; his fraternity with Russia; and he has not disclosed his tax returns. Yet he got elected as president. Does it mean the Americans do not have the brains to see through this man and his antics?

Russia was said to have played a major role in helping Trump to destroy his main opponent, Hilary Clinton, thereby helping to bring him to power as US 45th president. Thus, Russia under Putin is back to reckoning as a global player by influencing the election of the so-called most powerful man on earth. Already Russia has the largest land mass in the world, has been a major power in world history, and has one of the largest military in the world. With what has happened in the US election, it is clear that Russia is not contented with playing regional politics but is back into global power play with its pawn in the White House.

China has been a major civilization and has the largest population in the world. It has the second largest economy and is the manufacturing house for the whole world for almost all the products being used today. China has become a major global player with renewed confidence to exert its influence beyond Asia-Pacific. China under Xi Jinping is set to be not only an economic superpower but also a military and geopolitical global player. And, both Russia and China are veto powers in the UN Security Council.

India is undergoing a fundamental reform under Prime Minister Modi. It is the largest democracy in the world and is English speaking. It has the second largest population in the world and is also one of the world’s ancient civilizations. At the rate India is going under its current leadership, in less than a decade India will be one of the three strongest economies and an established global player. India’s diversity and how it is managing it admirably as well as its friendly disposition to all nations will ensure such role for India in the very near future.

As mentioned earlier, this tripolar global order is only transitional. America is already on the decline and Trump will only expedite the inevitable downfall of the US. An America that is a country of immigrants currently has a president who is descendant of immigrants and who is married to an immigrant that can hardly speak English language now issuing a travel ban from some seven countries identified by him as “Muslim-majority” terrorist countries. Federal judge James Robart in Seattle Washington state halted the ban on Friday after questioning the constitutionality of the Trump’s controversial executive order which blocks citizens of the seven countries from entering the US and all refugees. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Sunday also denied the formal request by the US Department of Justice to lift the ruling.

Donald Trump, who argues the restrictions are aimed at stopping terrorist attacks in the US, has pledged to overturn the “ridiculous” ruling and even launched a personal attack on Mr Robart, describing him as a “so-called judge” in a series of ill-tempered tweets.

Trump is so ignorant of the world that the EU chief executive Jean-Claude Junker had to drily say “sometimes I have an impression that the next (Trump) administration does not know the EU in detail. But, in Europe, details matter”.

History is on the side of the oppressed.

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