The multipolar world order is here.
Exactly when it began is a debate for scholars and historians. Some argue it came with Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2022, marking the end of the era of US dominance and the return to one of great power competition. Others note the 2008 financial crash, which began the global economy’s shift from West to East and marked the rise of China as a realistic challenger to the US.
Others look at the 2003 Iraq War: a moment of hubris for Washington that exposed the limits of American power and marked the beginning of the end of its post-Cold War global primacy.
But regardless of when multi-polarity began, most analysts agree that the transition to a new global order has now occurred.
Among many American and Western politicians and commentators though, this is usually framed negatively. As Stephen M. Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, notes, the Biden administration appears especially, “nostalgic for the brief era when the United States didn't face peer competitors.”
The White House’s current hard line against Russia and China, Walt suggests, is an attempt to reassert US leadership over the world.
Given that Washington’s rivals in Moscow and Beijing have long called for an end to America’s dominance, it is not surprising that many in the US and elsewhere in the West are fearful of today’s developing world order.