I’ve been away for a while because I’ve been training around the clock for the upcoming Ironman in Florida. Lucky enough, the training now is easing off as we are getting closer to date, so here I am again, trying to discuss a topic I believe is important for you all to know.
I’ve recently attended an off-the-record conference organized by a think-tank here in Bahrain. I cannot publish details of the discussions that took place, but I can say that the Western type ideology is somehow fearful and frustrated on the Western relative power decline vis-à-vis China. To this ideology, when China becomes the single superpower in the world, it may force major shifts and changes in the status quo we are witnessing today that is currently protected by the Western powers.
While discussing this topic with experts and PhDs, I noticed that almost all qualified participants are somewhat clueless about a distinguished theory in International Relations discipline called “Power Transition,” also known as “Hegemonic Theory.” Some do know about the ‘falsified’ theory called ‘Democratic Peace’, which claims that democracies do not go to war against democracies, but not quite its more credible parent, “Power Transition.” This theory successfully explained a large percentage of the world’s previous conflicts, making it a great model to explain how to prevent a major expected conflict when China arises. I should note that I have sensed a general agreement amongst participants on the uncertain future with this approaching phenomenon.
A bit of a history for you all to consider. In the 19th century, Great Britain was a declining superpower and the United States was the growing challenging power. When both great nations exchanged positions in the 1870s, there was no war, no conflict, and the status quo remained at large the same. Why did this happen, and how did one superpower replace the other without aggression and with total submission?
The Power Transition theory explains that the world is divided to some extent between the satisfied and the unsatisfied nations. In very simple terms, the protector of the status quo, the super power, perceives all the nations around the world through this lens. When Great Britain saw the inclining US power, it did not perceive it as a threat to the status quo because it was amongst the satisfied nations. However, in the case we are witnessing today, the US perceives China as a threat because it does not consider it a nation from amongst the satisfied ones.
Therefore, the only reason why China is seen as a growing threat and causing much Western nerve to shake is because there is a relative dissatisfaction to the global and bilateral status quo protected by the United States. We all are skipping this important point and falsely consider China as a threat disregarding the reasons behind such perception. We think that it is because China is not a democratic nation that there is a lost hope to befriend when in fact and reality democracy has nothing to do with it.
Democracies did fight democracies but a group of ‘status quo’ satisfied nations almost never went to war with each other. In some cases, which I do not want to dive into today, America covertly initiated a coup d’état to replace unfriendly democracies with friendly ‘dictatorships,’ and peace prevailed between them. What does this suggest?
We should invest our time today to include as many world powers as we can into the status quo satisfied nations. China is surely not included today and this is where the big mistake endures. Let’s not worry about China’s domestic politics and how they run and go about their business. Instead, we should admit that world politics is safer and more stable when we all come together and share our thoughts to come up with a solution that would surely not look like any of our needs, but a colorful one that is a product of all our ideas coming together.
We have reached a deadlock just like the undemocratic UN Security Council. We shouldn’t have the veto to stop, but should have the veto to proceed, if it is for the development of the world, and for the rise of prosperity.