Events across the World in the past few weeks are likely to leave an indelible impression on global polity in the decades ahead. Global leaders, media, analysts and international relations experts have been left stunned by the sheer pace of highly charged and dynamic activities across the globe. In many ways humanity has become safer while in other parts as Iraq the gory stories of blood and mayhem continue. The clearest indication is that of change, a subtle shift from American unipolarity which has dominated the World for over two decades now to faint beginnings of a dawn of a multi polar order. This may seem an overly sanguine or even a na've view of global affairs but is supported by trends denoting the rise of a clutch of nations which are increasingly questioning the unipolar order especially since it has not brought promised peace and tranquility.
The rise of China and rebirth of Russia are the first few indications of an emerging challenge to US predominance in global polity. That it coincides with a decline in American power strangulated by fear of terrorism may not seem out of place to those who have seen balance restored over the ages in World history. China's rise was inevitable over the past decade or so. The foray into Africa however has raised many hackles in the West. Africa the land of minerals and oil has been the preserve of Western powers and diamond corporations' et al over the centuries. For the first time an Asiatic power was challenging this hegemony not merely in a few odd nations but across the entire swathe of this large continent. This combined with China's anti satellite test, a rising navy and growing interests in regional affairs indicated by the veto used to rescue the regime in Myanmar recently are pointers of Beijing's resurgence. The voices of this rise are muted, in typical Chinese mode, but the footprints are large and perhaps worrying.
Russia on the other hand has portrayed its return to the global arena most emphatically. President Putin was least apologetic at the Munich security conference as he openly proclaimed that he would, 'avoid excessive politeness and the need to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms' and went on to highlight Russia's interests across the globe and particularly in the immediate periphery. These words have been backed by Russia's deeds over the past few months including threats of throttling gas to Europe. Growing Russian influence is seen in many spheres particularly armament and energy where Moscow has emerged as a key player overcoming two decades of relative diffidence. A resurgent Japan is also seen to supplement the vacuum created by American interests in the Pacific highlighted by creation of Ministry of Defence for the first time after the Second World War.
India is not far behind. The hand of New Delhi is spreading far and wide. The travel itinerary of the Foreign Minister should say it all. From Yangon to Kabul and Tehran he has covered it many capitals in the past few months, not to speak of all the SAARC states where he has ostensibly been to invite the heads of government for the SAARC summit being hosted by New Delhi in April. While at the same time concluding a number of significant power alliances with Russia, China, Japan, Australia and USA in concentric circles, New Delhi seems to be getting away from its introverted reticence. At Tehran there is no doubt that Mr. Pranab Mukherjee had an agenda beyond Indo Iranian relations though he vehemently brushed aside any such intent. Slowly but steadily it seems that India is attempting to make a mark on global polity.
That the multi polar order is working is evident with breaking of the deadlock over North Korea's nuclearisation. The United States alone could have hardly brought Kim to the negotiating table particularly so when nuclear weapons are essential for survival of the over militarized regime. Pressure from many other quarters which matter to Pyongyang's junta seem to have worked. This also provides hope for a similar arrangement being worked out with Tehran despite the hype over air strikes on its nuclear facilities.
While these are just the first signs of multi polarism, the proof of the pudding will come with the emergence of genuine multilateral collaboration through cooperative engagement rather than band wagoning. Obviously all nations stand to gain by such a regime which will replace balance of power as well as unipolarism in one shift. How long will it take and whether this will bring peace across the globe is hard to tell. But some light at the end of the tunnel of international relations is perhaps better than the dark alleys of the past.