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Reader riposte: How about non-polarity?

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3 April 2012 16:03

Greg Lawson responds to Michael Wesley:

Great idea regarding bipolarity, but looking at it from a larger standpoint than individual nations. You are right that Asian conceptions of Westphalian norms are far more rigid than 'Western' ideas.  The whole 'Right to Protect' is very much a Western conceit that is destabilizing and deeply worrisome for many, obviously with China being the most concerned.

The interesting long-term question about this is whether Europe will eventually fall into constituent pieces in a de facto as opposed to du jure sense. If its internal problems lead to a two-track Eurozone or to a slow and partial, but nonetheless real, reintroduction of internal European animosities, bipolarity could turn into something closer to Richard Haas' notion of 'non-polarity'. Even Brzezinski has begun sounding the alarm about non-polarity in his new tome 'Strategic Vision', as have authors like Gideon Rachman from the Financial Times with 'Zero-Sum Future'.

Personally, I think signs are pointing more and more in that direction. Watch also Chinese counters to the American pivot. Will China begin buying Euro Treasuries to diversify away from America as it gets more concerned about encirclement? Obviously, that may make little economic sense currently, but it could make strategic sense over time and could enhance these non-polar type trends by peeling 'Western' nations into strange power configurations.

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