Event ReportsPublished on Sep 28, 2010
Dr. Sergey Kurginyan noted that the world at present faces the threat of descending into a vortex of chaos and whoever succeeds in managing this chaos effectively will be able to take control of the future of the international system as the new hegemon.
Understanding emerging contours of powers and hegemony
Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Experimental Creativity Centre (ECC), Moscow organised a conference on “Understanding the Emerging Contours of Powers and Hegemony – Contemporary Geo-political Narratives” in Moscow from 28-29 September 2010. This is part of the ongoing interaction between ORF and ECC on a range of issues of global significance.

The ORF delegation comprised Amb. M Rasgotra, Mr Sunjoy Joshi, Mr Samir Saran, Mr Siddharth Varadarajan and Mr Ajish P Joy while the ECC was represented by Dr Sergey Kurginyan, Dr Yury Byaly, Ms Marina Volchkova and Mr Vladimir Novikov.

The discussions were based on five broad themes -- the emerging patterns of international hegemony, the role of multilateralism, globalisation of trade and economy, the impact of financial crisis on energy markets and migrations and the Middle East.

In the opening presentation, Dr. Kurginyan noted that the world at present faces the threat of descending into a vortex of chaos and whoever succeeds in managing this chaos effectively will be able to take control of the future of the international system as the new hegemon. Amb M.Rasgotra explained that today’s international order is multipolar and it is not easy for any power to establish hegemony. He discounted the possibility of a cold war developing between the United States and China. The possibility of a G2 -- a duopoly of the US and China -- is also unlikely because of the emergence of multiple power centres.

Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, speaking on the implications of the financial crisis on the global energy markets, pointed out that while there was a global GDP decline, it was uneven because economic powerhouses like India and China have continued to see substantial growth in their national GDP. As a result, in future, it is very likely that these countries will emerge more and more as the price makers rather than the price takers. The Asian countries may seek regional alignments and the Asian energy markets will probably get around to building complex patterns of cross dependence.

Yury Byaly spoke about the potential dangers of globalisation and the financial crisis. He argued that the competition between the three major geo-economic players -- the United States, Europe and China -- could easily spill over into fields other than finance and trade. It may lead to confrontation in the military-political field as well. Therefore it is vital to maintain a thorough monitoring mechanism of the emerging geo-economic battles, as well as extensive consultations with all the stakeholders of the international order so that peace and stability prevails.

Samir Saran argued that migration needs to be examined on the basis of three impulses. The first one is a dominant evolutionary impulse that has shaped the movement of people towards resources, opportunities and quality of life. The second one is countercyclical which is based on the nation states’ tendency to filter these migrations in order to extract talent and manpower which is witnessed in the debates among nations in global forums like the WTO. The third element is that of human security -- a new global discourse which is hard to ignore. The world needs to find ways to accommodate the poor and climate-affected persons by framing policies sensitive to the potential growth. However, all debates on migration are still viewed from the aperture of security coloured by narratives on terrorism, drug trafficking, disease, cultural vigilantism and the right-wing revivalism in Europe. However, human mobility will be the crucial element for progress in the 21st century as we move towards a knowledge economy. Therefore, countries best able to attract and retain talent will remain the global leaders of future.

Marina Volchkova’s presentation was on the migration patterns and its impact on Russia. She observed that while the inflow of migrants to Russia has the positive effect of resolving the shortage of working-age population, caused by severe demographic situation in Russia, it brings its own set of challenges. It also burdens the state with tremendous resource costs and force the state to develop newer mechanisms of social adaptation, and raises the possibility of ethnic and social conflicts.

Siddharth Varadarajan saw great merit in the new multilateral fora such as the G20, and according to him such institutions offer a unique opportunity to have greater pluralism in global policy making. While admitting that there were divisions within the new bodies --some of these are unwieldy in terms of membership -- he expressed optimism that new arrangements would evolve over time that would better represent competing interests.

Vladimir Novikov, in his presentation on the Middle East, portrayed the new trends in the region which includes disconnect between the US and Israel, the increasing isolation of Israel, the rising profile of Turkey and the improvement of Turkey-Iran and Turkey-Arab relations. These developments are strong enough to redraw the existing power equations in the region and can profoundly affect multiple facets of international relations, including global energy trade. Ajish P Joy also dealt with the crisis in the Middle East focusing on the intractable nature of the Palestinian conflict. Because of a number of historical as well as systemic factors, a solution to the Palestinian conflict appears to be really remote and this festering wound in the Middle East keeps the region perennially unstable.

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