Strategic Alliances Reshaped:
One of the emerging and wide-pressing challenges of our time, of our otherwise multipolar geostrategic and political landscape, is to comprehend the current re-arranging or shaping of strategic alliances. Strategic alliances are important as once completed they will be shaping the future of social, economic, military and operational, gravity centers they control.
Each country seems to hold its own ‘center of gravity’ as in policy, understanding political options and engagement. They ‘hypothesize’ that everything that takes place inside or around them has to do with the respective country being or wishing to be the center of regional and why not, a center of gravity-related with global politics and its wide agenda. In some ways, Centers of gravity become a tool of national egoism, versus a much-needed international cooperation based on values of peace and harmony but also tolerance among each other and more so respect of international values of law and good neighborhood relations, but in practice.
Centers of Gravity Countries:
Centers of gravity countries, seem to hold as a common characteristic: To be wanting to emerge and/or expand, enlarge, and/or conquer. And as such while they attempt to do so, require some sort of alliances, while they try to upscale themselves with various forms, tools and methods: From engagement in regional and global politics to creating the economic tools of a large and look alike or aiming for to become a global economy and society.
Each nation holds a “bucket of choices”, as I recall an old title of a research paper that I had conducted years ago. Each country as a center of gravity is an individual strategic possible partner, who seeks, however, to be recognized with any potential partner great or regional as an equal partner.
Each nation’s options as power gravity countries, are laid ahead, planned carefully, constructed in some form or another as a strategic plan methodology and objective and positioned around global challenges but also global economic and political frameworks, considering what is happening or forecasting what may happen and therefore frame international politics and regional politics accordingly.
On a global and regional geostrategic ‘chessboard’ scale, therefore, we are to see new or reshaped alliances formations that will attempt to shape a new “order” of things. At the same time, while these new alliances are been shaped or reshaped, or reformed, to form “strategic alliance partners of choice”, we are to see the formation of a new “curtain” is to be established in a form of West versus East and/or vice versa, that we will be able to soon map it or around it, defining who is who and who does what where and when, what are the complexities, the changing variables and the opportunities, if any.
From Cold Peace to a New Iron Curtain that Unfolds
A possible ‘curtain’ of strategic allies based on hybrid alliances and personal leadership choice in its ‘easiness in doing business’, does not hold however similar characteristics as alliances were shaped during the era of the Cold War. We are to see alliances shaped in a status of hybrid interests that hold the characteristic of a tendency to change based on what is to become, and ahead of things. Otherwise known in theoretical terms, considering the assumptions that ‘Cold Peace’ is being formed.
Cold Peace’ Iron Curtain is not geopolitically defined just yet; as centers of gravity see gravity metropoles in different ways, actions and regional or surrounding interests. As such we need to assume that while alliances are shaped so will the geopolitical chessboard that will be known as the Iron Curtain of Cold Peace.
Characteristics and Power Games of Centers of Gravity:
Centers of gravity’s characteristics are common. In general terms, they can be defined based on their “aggressive competition” leadership skills of value that is beyond the traditional dialogue, framed around a world of “corporativism”, where one competes and buys off each other or otherwise seen as a potential ‘aggressor’.
By the end of 2019, such examples are plentiful and multipolar and geography. They can be distinguished at the level of seriousness being attributed, at the level of international media, social media and communication association but also in economic and social terms, in military terms, legal terms, power politics terms and leadership skills and the list goes on.
To comprehend the new power game around the globe, one should think simultaneously in a multidisciplinary, cross-sectional and multidimensional way, in both short and long-term ways, at the same time and with a single objective and goal: that ‘my country’s power gravity is greater than yours’ and that is why I should conquer you.
Centers of Gravity, which wish to achieve a form of alliance with another or multi-nation in the form of hybrid alliances, hold special characteristics in the form of “doing business”. They are engaged in all forms. Directly to the point and in multidimensional ways, levels and people, which the latter constitute forms of “hitmen” only not for an actor, rather an actor of that specific country, which considers itself to be a regional center of gravity and wishes to pursue a global center of gravity.
Centers of Gravity mechanisms and tools are showcased in various forms and ways where each is engaged into: Negotiations in existing political/historical issues or standing regional issues; to threats and challenges based on the social mentality, ideological or root-based challenges; demographic change due to unforeseen challenges; climate change and health issues, natural resources wishes for exploration; space-related affairs and future development processes, methods and way of living based on traditions or otherwise projected.
What the future will look like:
What we are expected to see in the very near future is a possible emergence of more or upscaled power centers of gravity. Power Game centers of regional actors, which try to upscale by all means necessary, with various forms in services and construction, tenders of innovation in industry and technology, education, economic projections, plans and new projects, while also mixture of cultural locality with internationalization of its demographics with multiculturalism and multinationalism under one umbrella, or finally past historical identity forms. These actors will attempt to showcase their regional ability in a communication level projecting or overlooking at global power game methodologies. While at the same time assuming roles and geostrategic location roles which were to date defined either by global or former colonial powers.
Multipolarity in its reactionary theoretical form in a post-soviet bipolar era seems to not be the case any longer. Rather a multipolar world that is ever more so complex, where actors or regional allies follow solely in their respective interests. A theory that I have initiated and termed and published on it, named as “Hybrid Alliances”.
My Theory on “Hybrid Alliances”
Hybrid alliances are defined in terms of interests (military or political or economic) and where time and geopolitical challenges matter. Although alliances are shaped as a base of power game, one of the most important and modern works on alliances is written by Harvard’s Steven Walt on the origins of alliances. In it, Walt assures that on Alliances “strategy is a set of hypotheses or predictions” that need, however, to take place or part or be altered. And that was the case in the late 80s, where however its theories and concepts are more relevant than ever.
Where this article adds on is that while security stakes are higher while the world is in a stake of flux, current alliances are ending or reshaped or been re-examined based on the fluidity of things and on both hybrid characteristics (time and interests -short-term rather than long-term) while also hybrid threats.
One of the elements that I had predicted not so far long ago is that regional changes would take place within a specific landscape being centered and allocated around and inside the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, something that I recall having mentioned at earlier publications made as the Game of thrones from the Mediterranean to the Middle East and beyond.
Geostrategy. From 2019 and Beyond
In 2019, along with our partners, we predicted each throughout their publications at Strategy International, that there will be various geostrategic changes that would come about. In 2019, we evidently notice a great reshuffling of alliances due to current ongoing or forthcoming challenges but also threats ahead.
Reshuffling or re-establishing or arranging new alliances are based on something greater, than just the “raison d’être” or interest. The main reason is power politics and influence’. ‘Punctuality’ is solely distinguished to the elements of wish to conquer; to establish a new ‘world order’ of things as its suites the power gravity country or another, seen from their own ‘center of gravity’. All actions and methodologies, political, economic, social or military seem to converge onto a main reason behind a single country’s center of gravity strategic options, actions and methodologies: That is national sole interest.
Alliances current or new ones will be forged. Until then, the main actors will be reshuffling their ‘cards’, while secondary actors will attempt to receive a primary role by surprising methods and ways that will ‘impress world audience’. It may also impress an audience key to creativity, industrial heavy or medium size but will also impress smaller scale countries that wish to expand also their role in regional affairs. Convergence of national interests with hybrid characteristics for shaping or reshaping alliances is the key to success for those countries that seek a more globalized upscale role.
Current strategic threats and challenges that we distinguish, in Latin America, Africa north and south, Middle East and the Gulf, Central Asia and East Asia, reflect solely the powers that are with the powers that wish to be. They reflect the need to control current or establish new trade routes while assuring a national interest-based physical presence of each of the gravity of power states bringing the battle of competition and corporativism in each respective location where the ‘battle unfolds’.
In all security-related affairs, the battle is to impress, rather than solve. It is to showcase and intrude with old and new ideologies and historical aspects not clearly visible at first sight, rendering traditional elements of war as important as ever before.
All leaders converge into one single aspect: we live in a volatile environment, where the aspect of tolerance and respect seems to be an important asset and value for those that comprehend the morality and ethics behind it. However, having said that, we do not live in a balanced environment just yet. Hybrid alliances will continue to take shape and volatility will increase before a new balance of power game takes place.
While we proceed into the 20s of the 21st century, we will notice an emergence of new centers of gravity around the world, yet even more so distinguishable than what we assume of today as strategic challenges and values will change.
This will, in turn, make us wonder: what will traditional powers do? Or is it the case that a new world order will be established under a new framework that traditional powers get less engaged, but more ‘philosophical’ in nature, while new emerging powers seem to be a lot more, keen to reflect on the standing future challenges.
A new global and regional geostrategic game-board currently is being established. What happens at this time, is only the candy cherry on an otherwise big cake.
Things will continue to expand and unfold as Hybrid Alliances are shaped and as Centers of Gravity are being established. Much attentiveness is required while one chooses wisely his/her strategic alliances or key partnerships. There is a need to think in asymmetrical ways. An ability to think in a multidimensional way with our future laid out before us in multiple scenario planning, while we should not be underestimating issues or cases of economic, social, political and military concern or on all combined. But I guess that this is what our leaders state that we live in a volatile environment after all.
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 Walt, S.: The Origins of Alliances. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London (1987)