This week – a 4th of July ‘present’ for the United States – North Korea successfully launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, further provoking the US. The issue fuels the increasingly intense rivalries between the US, China and Russia.
According to the research I present and discuss in this blog, international orders (consisting of interacting communities (including) states, within an anarchistic order) periodically need to be upgraded, to ensure that they can regulate tensions and issues that unavoidably build up in the anarchistic system: Increasing connectivity (also implying increasing interdependence of states) and security are intrinsically incompatible in anarchistic international orders and result in tensions and issues between states.
The research shows that during the period 1495-1945, the System produced four war cycles and that in each case, an relatively stable period – when a international order was in place – was followed by a critical period when the accumulated tensions and issues in the System produced a systemic response.
This systemic response came in all four cases in the capacity of a systemic war, when accumulated tensions and issues were used to redesign and upgrade the international order. All Great Powers in the System are involved in systemic wars (that makes them systemic). Their involvement is a prerequisite for a system-wide upgrade of the international order.
Furthermore, the research also shows that the four war cycles (1495-1945) – including the ‘accompanying’ international orders – had identical life-cycles. Initially (following the implementation of an upgraded order by means of a systemic war), international orders are effective in regulating tensions and issues that emerge in the System, however – once a tipping point is reached – tensions and issues can no longer be effectively regulated and instead of being released by means of non-systemic wars (small, local wars), tensions and issues accumulate in the System. Tensions and (unsolved) issue accumulate in the System, once the tipping point is reached.
The accumulated tensions and unsolved issue cause volatile political responses, that further contribute to this self-reinforcing process. It is just a matter of time before the System becomes critical and produces a systemic response (systemic war). At that point – the critical point – issues become connected, and ‘percolate’ the System.
Data-analysis shows that the System is now producing a fifth war cycle (1945 – ….). While the first four war cycles were ‘European’ war cycles (Europe formed the core of the System during the period 1495-1945, the System globalised by means of the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945)), the fifth cycle (1945 – ….) is the first global war cycle.
Data-analysis shows that the current – first global – war cycle is developing according to its four European predecessors. The current cycle reached the tipping point in 2011, and started accumulating tensions and issues. This process of accumulation explains the (increasingly) volatile (international) politics, we are now experiencing.
If the current trends that can now be observed in the data are extrapolated on the basis of the model of the four preceding war cycles (1495-1945), the System will become critical again around 2020. During the systemic response that follows, tensions will be released, issues will be solved (at least for the time being) and an upgraded international order will be designed and implemented. An upgraded order will ensure a new (but again temporary) period of relative stability, regulated by a ‘UN 2.0‘.
The fact that presently issues increasingly escalate and get linked (connect) is – as I explained – typical for the final stages of an (increasingly) dysfunctional international order. This self-reinforcing dynamic pushes the System to criticality.
The linkage – and the configuration of the issue clusters – becomes now increasingly evident: Three ‘main’ clusters can now be identified: (1) ‘Eastern Europe‘ (subissues: Ukraine, Baltic States, Crimea, etc. involving Europe, the United States and Russia), (2) the ‘Middle East‘ (subissues: Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Quatar, Israel, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. involving Europe, the United States and Russia, as well), and (3) ‘Asia‘ (Subissues: North Korea, Taiwan, South and East China Seas, etc. involving the United States, China and Russia).
The ‘main players’ – the most dominant Great Powers in the current order – are involved in the three main clusters: They ensure that the main clusters will become increasingly linked, and percolate the System.
It is now also possible to observe who teams up with whom: It seems that Russia and China will team up to confront the United States, in the confrontation that will follow.
It should be reminded: ‘North Korea‘ not only is about the threat North Korea poses to other countries, but above all about (underlying) rivalries between the United States, China and Russia.