The global rivalry among the global powers has begun to influence all regions in the world. Global powers that do not have the capacity to compete in all parts of the world have to prioritize some regions over others. For instance, the United States prioritizes the Pacific, especially the South China Sea region, over other regions. Accordingly, it considers it necessary to relatively withdraw from some regions. Thus, indirectly allowing other global powers to fill the power vacuums. In other words, the U.S. has been cutting the branch that it sits on.
The American allies, namely the European countries, also follow a similar policy to the U.S. They also prefer to have a hierarchical relationship with their partners. For example, this perspective is one of the main reasons why the European countries have been otherizing Türkiye. Recently, the West has faced many problems and challenges in maintaining its global hegemony and it has been facing strong challenges in at least three different contexts.
First of all, the West has been challenged from the inside. The rise of xenophobia, racism and ultranationalism has dramatically changed the Western mindset toward others. A large part of the West has begun to deny its traditional values, free market and liberal democracy. Radical political parties and personalities have begun to represent the mainstream political understanding. Nowadays, it is normal to see ultranationalist persons and political parties come to power in Western democracies.
Second, Western countries have been otherizing their allies in different parts of the world. For instance, the U.S. intentionally or unintentionally paved the way for Russian expansionism in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean. The hesitant policy of the U.S. toward the Syrian crisis led to the Russian intervention in 2015, which ended up with the Russian fortification of its military might in the country. Similarly, the U.S. withdrawal from the Libyan crisis led to the Russian intervention in favor of the putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar. Russia has heavily invested in the Libyan crisis. In spite of the warnings from some NATO members such as Türkiye and even some American institutions such as AFRICOM, the U.S. preferred to remain silent about the Russian buildup of power in Libya.
Furthermore, throughout the last decade, the U.S. has alienated and otherized most of its allies in the Middle East, remained indifferent to the security concerns of its allies, and followed unilateral and interventionist policies toward the regional crises. In some cases, the U.S. government has tried to punish its allies in the region. For instance, the American Congress has approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which holds the Saudi leadership responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Similarly, the U.S. government has insistently taken many anti-Turkish steps. The U.S. government has abandoned its balanced policy and begun to support the Greek side in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It has continued its biased policy in South Caucasus. The U.S. together with other Western countries such as France did nothing about the illegal Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories for decades. On the contrary, the U.S. government tried to punish Türkiye and Azerbaijan for the liberation of the Nagorno Karabakh territories.
Eventually, all these otherized and alienated countries have been trying to decrease their dependence on the West and to improve their relations with the non-Western regional and global powers. They try to diversify their economic structures as well as their foreign partners. Non-Western countries have been trying to get rid of neo-colonial policies. Most importantly, most states initiate regional platforms to solve local and regional issues. This is why, regionalism is on the rise in many parts of the world.
Third, the West is confused about how to challenge the rising global powers. One reason for this is that no state, for now, claims hegemony, including China. No state, including China, still wants to provide global public goods, normally provided by the West. The Western world led by the U.S. does not want to provide global public goods such as liberal markets and international peace and stability. Thus, the Western global powers have lost trust in the non-Western part of the world.
In addition, Western countries continue to pursue traditional colonial policies in the non-Western parts of the world. Therefore, many non-Western countries have been trying to improve their relations with non-Western countries such as China. Instead of criticizing themselves, the Western countries continue to blame others for the global scale chaos and political instability. Although the world has been changing almost every aspect of life, the West denies changing its perspective of the world or changing itself.
Presence in Africa
Most non-Western countries, including the African Sub-Saharan countries, prefer improving relations with China and Russia to Western countries. Chinese and Russian policies are considered more acceptable than the Western unilateral and hierarchical perspective. At least, non-Western countries sit at the negotiation table and discuss regional issues with the African countries. Recently, Gen. Stephen Townsend, the former commander of the U.S. Africa Command, has underlined that China has won the competition with the U.S. (the West) in Africa. He claimed that China won primarily through economic and diplomatic means, and also through its investments in infrastructure all over the continent. That is, non-Western global powers offer more to the small and middle powers than the West.
The unilateral intervention and selective engagement policy of the West is counterproductive. However, the Western countries prefer to blame the non-Western global powers for changing the rules of the game by taking the concerns and needs of the African countries into consideration. In today’s transitory and unstable world system, new rules have begun to dominate world politics. Therefore, it is impossible for the West to maintain its global hegemony with old-fashioned rules. It is clear that if the West does not change its unilateral and hierarchical perspective, it will continue to lose ground worldwide.