A New World Order?

The rise of countries like Brazil, Russia, India, and China demonstrate the global tectonic shifts over the past five years.

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A construction crane stands against high rise buildings on a hazy day in Beijing Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. China's president said its economy faces pressure for growth to slow further after factory output in August fell to a three-year low. President Hu Jintao said the world's second-largest economy faces challenges from weak exports and unbalanced growth. He made the comments Sunday to corporate CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vladivostok, Russia.

Scheherazade S. Rehman is a professor of international finance/business and international affairs at The George Washington University. You can visit her homepage here and follow her on Twitter @Prof_Rehman.  

The world is still vibrating from global tectonic shifts that occurred over the past five years. The 2007-onward global financial meltdown is a prime example.

The worst crash in the United States and Europe in 60 years showcased China's prominence as a global engine and its potential as a superpower. It was a stark reminder that everything Chinese is on a scale that we have never seen before; from the size of its population to ... pick anything else.

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Another prominent example is Brazil's meteoric rise which has left many wondering what happens after the 2014 World Cup and 2016 XXXI Olympiad? We know it is destined to be the superpower of Latin America but will it be different this time or will Brazil remain trapped in the emerging market "black box"? Will all the fuss about India simply end up being an acknowledgement that it will just remain a big presence like its fellow BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) member Russia?

Alternatively, will the cradle of mankind, sub-Saharan Africa, be an authentic roadmap to help navigate humanity's future? Can this continent transform beyond just being the world's deepest mine or most extensive farm? Furthermore, will political Islam galvanize itself into a unified force worthy of the West having to reconcile with its existence and forge an unsettling peace because the alternative…there is no other reasonable alternative. There are many other game changers such as the immense movements of private capital shifting due to market's panicking, seeking safe havens, or potential growth. This has created super economies like China in record time and fractured others overnight—like Greece, Portugal, and Spain—in the ensuing European sovereign debt crisis by either supplying or denying access to private capital (i.e. the cost of borrowing).

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The above by all means is not an exhaustive list of events and issues causing the global tectonic plates to shift—that particular list is long, interdependent, and ultimately unpredictable. The only thing we know is that amidst the reverberating vibrations from the last chaotic five years we are still short on workable solutions while our common systems—be they global or country-based (such as financial and banking systems; healthcare costs and delivery systems; management of resources like oil, gas, water, and food; climate change; and the political dysfunction of governments)—are failing to deliver effective results, policy, and governance.

Western-style free markets are especially experiencing a systemic collapse and these economic models are not delivering as they once did. The free market system outwardly, at least, seems like it is failing the majority of the people in what is increasingly their growing hour of need. These and a myriad of other such issues have all caused global economic, financial, political, and social tsunamis and the magnitude and impact of these events and crisis has left relatively few national arenas unaffected—be it security in old age, long-term youth joblessness, or energy shortages. This has exposed the combustive fissure of income disparity and has lit a match that has instigated class wars on the wealthy and a sudden proliferation of technocratic unelected governments in the West.

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This is the opening piece of what will be a series of discussions for several foreseeable Mondays on "a new world order” which will focus on a discussion of the possibility of the prime candidates (European Union, Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, and China,) rising to the status of a superpower to potentially rival the world's only current superpower, the United States.

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