Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3 Global Challenges and the Emerging World Order


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Global Challenges and the Emerging World Order
by Giulio Sapelli
Economics - Book Reviews

This book offers a fascinating overview of the challenges posed by the world’s new geostrategic order and likely future directions. It opens with an unconventional view of the Arab Spring, identifying its origins in the relative US withdrawal from the Middle East caused by both the need for military disengagement for economic reasons and the discovery of shale gas and tight oil in the heart of the North American continent.

The rise in the geostrategic importance of Putin’s Russia is explored in this context. The implications of the worldwide economic crisis are analyzed in depth: the author’s interpretation is that the world is entering a phase of unstable growth generated by hyperfinancialization and deflation. Against this background, the book explores the US attempt to trigger growth through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (based on the US-Australia military alliance) in restraining China’s advance, and the potential for Africa to become the driver of the world’s economic future if it can resist Chinese penetration and continue the nation-building process.

"The end of August 2013 will go down in the annals of history as an exceptional period, marking as it did a shift in the relationship between great world powers. For the first time in two centuries, the United Kingdom split from the United States over one of the crucial points of the great cultural downward spiral that has taken place in international relations over the last twenty years. I refer to the twenty years that followed in the wake of the Kissinger era after the fall of the USSR. General evidence of the theoretical and practical change came in the shape of the Balkan wars, which marked the transition from theory to practice of the end of the Westphalian period, when in salient areas of geostrategic interests, each nation was free to choose the political system it wanted, though the choosing was done by a handful of bloodthirsty dictators, and any sacrifices could be ruthlessly made. Only areas of the world deemed irrelevant to the world balance could deploy their not so secret Westphalian troops in local and intelligence struggles to maintain the balance of terror: Che Guevara in the Congo and Colonel Taylor in Sierra Leone behaved like the fictional characters in Le Carré's novels.

Then came the unhappy period of humanitarian intervention. The way was paved for this back during the Westphalian period. Arming the Mujahideen and the Taliban against the USSR and, once the USSR was defeated, not worrying about whether the Mujahideen and the Taliban dominated the country or whether the Pakistani secret services (ISI) became the true arbiters of relations between the USA and India: all this could only lay the foundations for long-term instability in extremely sensitive areas of the world balance, which were thus always in danger.









Giulio Sapelli is Full Professor of Economic History at the University of Milan and Associate Researcher at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei