Finally, but not least, obviously, the third file refers to the situation that appeared after the Cold War, in which China plays a major part. The installation of the uni-polarity has represented the peak of ‘Pax Americana’, but similarly, according to the westphalian system, it also brought the appearance of the adversaries of the system. The challenging of the US domination in the system – “the indispensable nation”, as Madeleine Albright named it in 1997-, obvious at the end of the 90s of the last century, appeared soon, both from behalf of the disappeared superpower, Russia, that has included in its doctrine of security the objective of constructing a multi-polar world – as well as from inside its own sphere of influence – , of the the French schism during the war in Iraq, of Europe in general, influenced by the French – German couple of superpowers, and also from outside of the “two lagers”. We refer here to September Eleven, when, in 2001, by direct aggression on the American territory (on its actual symbolic centres of power), the militant Jihad openly declared their appetite for world domination. The massive terrorist assault on September 11, 2001, has determined the response from behalf of the dominant: a global war on terrorism, that has also included military intervention against two states, Afghanistan, in October 2001, and Iraq, in March 2003, but also other actions of systemic amplitude for identifying and demolishing support networks and so on. This War against terrorism determined on its turn the militant Islamic Jihad to respond by the Iraqi insurrection against the forces of international community, started in 2005, which prolonged occupation in Iraq until the recent retreat in 2013. In another generation of systemic challenge, started in 2014, militant jihad reacted by founding the so-called Islamic state, that practically has no borders, but has adepts in various states of the world – not just Muslim countries, but also in European ones, Russia, China and even in the US itself. This ISIL (IS or Daesh) is considered today the main threat to international security.
Undoubtedly, a vital component of the third file that needs to be evaluated is China’s extraordinary ascension in the system. The economical reforms initiated at the end of the 80s of the previous century by Communist leader Deng Xiao-ping have made the new “Middle Kingdom” in no more than three weeks to end up at the top of the chart. By the end of the year 2014, China reached the peak of world charts based on the volume of the GDP, outpassing – a fact that seemed unbelievable two or three years ago – the United States of America, after having outpassed Japan two years earlier. It is not just that the systemic ascension of China has registered a record which is hard to equal in the future – the removal of almost half a billion people from poverty and the construction of a middle class of vast dimensions, but also, its high rhythms of economical increase announce further surprises in the future.
The systemic impact of China’s exponential growth was multiple. On one hand, a spectacular mutation of the centre of world politics was noted, from the Euro-Atlantic space to Asia, which thus made us witness the end of Europe’s systemic centrality, that has lasted five centuries. As a consequence, the great actors of the system have pronounced an Asian “pivot”, still not completely finished. The USA was the first to do so in 2011 and was soon followed by Russia and the EU, as top economical powers got associated in a block of challenging American supremacy (BRICS – an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). On the other hand, China itself employed a systemic activism, initially through a persistent rush for resources needed for its economical growth, soon followed by increased assertiveness in surrounding regions (the South and East China seas, as well as Eurasia), and its new geopolitical doctrine, synthesized in the formula “belt and road”, launched by President Xi Jimin in 2015 (“Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” – which repeats today a prophetic globalization announced as early as 2.000 years ago as a phenomenon that would start in China. This is the appearance of a role assumed willingly and consciously by China in the overall system (no earlier than a few months ago, Beijing launched an international bank, intended as a competitor to IMF), which instantly attracted responses by other grand powers. Among other reactions, Japan applied a substantial change of its military politics, consolidating the alliance with the USA, and the latter accelerated its involvement in Asia-Pacific so that the increasing assertiveness from behalf of Beijing would find them in firm positions.
Where is Europe in this complex global context, where trends of evolution are clearly defined, and ongoing moves are already selecting the global players of the future?
The crises in Ukraine and Greece seem to give an answer. The main European “player” in both cases is undoubtedly Germany. It seems that no one granted too much importance so far to this detail, although it obviously bears considerable significance. A reason for this “lack of attention” would be that international media acts in “breaking news” manner, which means that “warm” events are granted the most attention and the rest of them are apparently out of the radar, although they continue to amplify.
Yet, the way Germany, as top continental “player”, perceives seeking solutions to these crises says a lot about Berlin’s view on the global power balance, the architecture of balance in Europe itself and simultaneously, about the role of the old continent in tomorrow’s world.
The start of the crisis in Ukraine has already earned massive coverage. Among the pages written in this torrent of analyses, there are plenty of those referring to what happened in May, this year, when they commented the news that USA would be willing to enter the “Normandy format”. This European format, that includes Germany, Russia, France and Ukraine, and it is named this way based on the meeting that commemorated in Normandy, in June 2014, 70 years since the launch of the Overlord operation.
It was attended at that time by the leaders of the four states mentioned above; they have created a quartet managing the crisis in Ukraine. An initial consequence of this management was the signing of the Minsk – 1 agreement in September 2014, and the second ended in signing the second version of this agreement in February 2015.
A noticeable fact from the very beginning was that, inside this quartet, there were two dominating powers, and respectively Russia – a party that was undoubtedly interested in gaining a certain result in the management of the crisis, as during this crisis it has annexed Crimea and was even considering the foundation of a new Novorossiya state, on territory torn from Ukraine – and Germany. Obviously, Berlin was cautious enough to seem part of the EU unity, associating it to what was considered from the very beginning as an engine of the integration organization: the unity of purpose and action between France and Germany. And yet, the evolution of the Ukrainian crisis showed, beyond any doubt, that Germany was Russia’s interlocutor and the possible agreement among them could actually seal an European condominium. Finally, who could resist in Europe to an eventual union of will and action between Germany and Russia?