Economists aren’t the only ones scrambling to predict what the world will look like after the recession. Political pundits are also squinting too see into the future — their question: Will the global economic meltdown change the game in international politics?
|The recession may be having a smaller impact on geopolitics than some predicted. (Getty Images)|
Not much, says a new RAND Corp. study. The U.S. will continue to be the worlds superpower and policeman, capitalism the most popular economic recipe, and, as the rhetorical squabbles born in the heat of the crisis quiet down, old friends will stay friends and foes remain foes, argued Robert D. Blackwill.
Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India and presidential envoy to Iraq under the Bush administration, dismissed what he called a flood of recent articles predicting the recessions destructive consequences for the international system. If the economy recovers by the first half of 2010, as most analysts predict, wrote Blackwill, the face of international politics isnt likely to change in any fundamental way in the next five years.
The report politely contradicts the Cassandras who have been warning about the international political fallout of the global economic slump, among them Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who in February called the economic crisis the primary near-term security concern of the United States during testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sure, wrote Blackwill, the plunging world economy has already created its fare share of political trouble, with government crises in Iceland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia, and street protests erupting in countries ranging from Greece to Russia. And more trouble may come in the near future, he noted, in the form of more poverty, more disease, more crime, more migration, and more Third World military conflict.
But, maintained the author, the economic crisis doesnt seem to be moving the fundamental pieces of the international political puzzle. Popular discontent over the recession didnt send Mexico teetering on the verge of anarchy and it didnt trip Pakistan into loosing control of its nuclear weapons or starting another war with India, as some feared. In Iran, the closest approximation to a revolution the country has seen since 1979 was a result of election fraud, not falling oil prices amidst a global slump in demand.
The downturn, argued Blackwill, just isnt enough to destabilize a Chinese Communist Party that survived self-made economic disasters of the size of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. And a staggering pile of public debt doesnt seem to be pushing the U.S. to cut on its foreign policy agenda and commitments.
Blackwills paper is a sobering response to many of the doomsday scenarios circulating a few months ago, though predicting a rosier future must be easier now that talk is all about green shoots and China, for example, is back to 8% growth in the second quarter.