Taking Stock of 2015: What Awaits the World in the Next Year?

Prof. Dr. Tarık OĞUZLU
07 January 2016
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The year we are about to leave behind has proved to be a historic year in terms of the impact it has produced on the dynamics of global politics. It has already been known that global politics have been exposed to fundamental transformation over the last years, particularly following the unfulfilled expectations of the so-called Arab Spring process and intensifying geopolitical competition among great powers. Yet, the speed of this transformation has accelerated in 2015.

 

The first thing to note in this context is that the year 2015 contributed to the revival of geopolitical competitions among global players in terms of material interests and ideas. Geopolitical rivalries and tension among great powers have intensified across the globe. While they sometimes faced each other bilaterally and directly, at other times they faced each other indirectly and through proxies. While the crisis between the West and Russia in and around Ukraine is a prime example of direct confrontation, the crisis in Syria seems to offer a playground for great power confrontation through proxies.  

 

Contrary to the assumptions of the ‘end of history’ thesis, there has not occurred a convergence among states with respect to global norms, values, principles of power politics and the future direction of world order. The paucity of efforts to help promote liberal democratic values across the world has become more conspicuous than ever. Not only the traditional liberal democratic nations have lost their enthusiasm to do so but also global reactions against such efforts have skyrocketed. Grand narratives of global actors, such as the United States, China, the European Union and Russia, have diverged in the past year. As of today, it is evident that the world is not going through a linear, universal and one-size-fits-all kind modernization and development processes. Universalism and cosmopolitanism seem to have taken a back seat against the forces of relativism and particularism in global politics. This is quite evident in the emerging geopolitical competition between the United States and Russia in the wider Middle East and Black Sea regions and between the United States and China in East and South East Asia. In addition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership initiatives can be seen as the harbinger of emerging competition among global players concerning the definition of global rules and standards in the realms of trade and commerce. 

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