Examining the international system from a geopolitical and geoeconomic perspective, Alpo Rusi provides a broad vision and bold forecast of the emerging strategic landscape for the coming century. An asymmetrical world system is emerging. The United States is now the sole true world power; it forms the core of a unipolar order characterized by an uneven division of world power and economic resources. Rusi argues, however, that this post-Cold War "order" will not survive into the next century.
Rusi suggests that the power vacuum in the former Soviet empire will be filled by China in Asia and by the European Union in Eastern Europe, Russia's disintegration and decline in world power status will continue but may have reached its bottom line economically, and Islam will gain strength in various parts of the world, embracing a new international role. He also predicts that the world will be split into four or five distinct trading blocs: A European bloc formed around the European Union; an East Asian bloc, potentially strong, interventionist, and even aggressive, formed around China and the Singapore economic region; Japan, as a strong and still competitive economic power; and a Pan-American bloc, also strong but potentially isolationist, formed around the United States. One of the question marks will be the future ability of an orthodox Russia to facilitate conditions for an economic space.
According to Rusi, these trading blocs will develop new political or geopolitical interests. For example, the European bloc will extract fossil fuels from the former Soviet Union instead of the Middle East, thereby changing partly the existing global trade system. Each bloc will have certain internal problems--the Europeans will be linked to the unstable successors to the Soviet Union, the East Asian bloc will have to contemplate whether China's economic growth and geopolitical expansions will create a new bipolar world in the early twenty-first century, and the Pan-American bloc will struggle with continuing political and economic instability in South and Central America.
Finally, Rusi warns that it is crucial for the European and Pan-American blocs to build upon the traditional Euro-Atlantic relationship. Without it, he argues, a truly polarized--and potentially hostile--bloc system could take root, most likely lining the "Western pan-regions" against China's expansiveness.
Alpo M. Rusi is currently Foreign Policy Advisor to the president of Finland, Deputy Chief of the Cabinet, and visiting associate professor at Helsinki Universky. In addition to his diplomatic duties, he has written several books, including After the Cold War: Europe's New Political Architecture.