One of the most important concepts in international relations is polarity, which is just a term that political scientists use to describe power in the international system.
Typically, we think of the global order in three separate modes:
- Unipolar, where one overweening global power dominates (such as the United States, more or less, after the Cold War).
- Bipolar, where two rivals view for global power (such as the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War).
- Multipolar, where several regional powers balance one another (such as Prussia/Germany, Great Britain, France, Russia and the Ottoman Empire in the decades between Napoleon and World War I).
In the view of many scholars, the world has been stuck in American-dominated unipolarity for years, slowly gliding (hopefully peacefully) to a multipolar world, sometime far off in the distance. At some point, most scholars believed, the rise of China, and possibly other powers, such as Russia, India or a united Europe, would allow for a multipolar world gradually to unfold.
Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States means, above all, that we’re hurtling even more rapidly to that emerging multipolar world, and you can see it in the global response to his shock election a week ago. Continue reading Like it or not, the multipolar era is coming sooner than we thought