The following is an extract of the draft english translation of an excellent recent book entitled 'Political Concepts' which was published in the Arab world in 2005. I will be posting more sections of the book in future.
Understanding of political situation differs from understanding the policy of each state. This is because understanding the policy of the influential states is related to the understanding of the thought and method upon which the policy of such states is based, as mentioned before. As regards the international situation, it is the structure of the effective international relations. In other words, it is the situation of the leading state and those states that compete with it. This situation is not related to the thought and method. It is rather related to the international relations, and the constant competition between the states over the position of the leading state and over having influence on international politics. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the international situation.
However, it must be clear that international situation is not stable; it rather changes and differs in the world according to its circumstances, events, and conditions. Despite that, it is possible to draw a clear picture for it, and give general guidelines about it; besides giving some details about its circumstances. However, this would only apply to it as it appears to people at the time of its description, where the description would apply to an existing reality. When the international situation changes, its previous description would not be wrong; it is rather a description for something in the past, so it becomes part of the history. In this case it is necessary to describe the reality in progress, ie to the new international situation. Therefore, the description of the international situation that we will present, in terms of drawing its picture, giving general guidelines about it, or addressing its details, all of this is description to a reality that has occurred before, or occurring now, or expected to occur in future; however it cannot be considered constant. Therefore, a politician must has information about international situation, and international politics, where he links them with what he watches, in order the matter becomes clear, and he can judge on it.
Understanding of the international situation requires of Muslims to know the post of the leading state in the world, and the position of the other states in relation to her and to the global politics. It is also necessary to know the subordinate states, those states that revolve in the orbit of others, and the independent states.
As regarding the subordinate state, it is that which is linked to another state concerning its foreign policy and in some domestic issues. This is like Egypt in relation with America, and Kazakhstan (currently) with Russia. As regarding the state that revolves in the orbit of another one, it is the one that is linked in its foreign policy with another state based on common interest and not as subordination. The example to this is Japan with America, Australia with each of America and Britain, Canada with each of America, Britain and France, and Turkey (currently) with each of America and Britain. As regarding the independent state, it is the one that runs its foreign and domestic policies as it wishes and in accordance with its interest, such as France, China and Russia.
There are cases that do not come under international politics. They are rather incidents that emerged due to the withdrawal of the colonial powers from their colonies. Such cases and the like are not discussed within international politics, and nor general guidelines are given about them. Rather, each case has to be studied alone, where then a judgment is given about it. As an example to that is Iraq after the withdrawal of English from it, on the 14th July 1958 military coup, and the termination of all treaties\and links; so it became an independent state internationally like France, England and any other independent state. However, since its ruler at that time was an American agent, Iraq became in reality subordinate to America, though internationally it is independent. When 17th July 1968 coup took place, and the English agents assumed the power, Iraq became subordinate to America.
Thus, when the ruler of an independent state becomes an agent, or when an agent ruler assumes power, then the independent state becomes subordinate to the state, to which he became an agent.
Therefore, these cases apply to all of the states that were colonized before; and they changed their subordination by the effect of the change of their rulers. Such states are independent from superficial international aspect, but in reality they are subordinate. However, these are individual cases that result from the liberation of the colonies from imperialism, and the attempt of the colonial powers to restore the colonies, or the attempt of other states to replace them in their colonies after their withdrawal.
It is very vital to know the post of the leading state in the world, because of its importance in understanding the global politics and understanding the international situation. At time of peace, the leading state in the international situation would be internationally the effective power; while the second state would not be much different than the others concerning its capability of having global political influence.
The effect of the other states comes only from those that can have influence on the leading state. The degree of such influence fluctuates in accordance with the self-created\force of such state as well as its global power. The stronger a state is, and the greater is its global weight, the greater would be its influence on the leading state, and consequently on the international politics, from an international aspect.
The most obvious example of attempting to influence the leading state, and then influencing global politics, is the example of Britain nowadays (2004). Its effect on global politics, from an international aspect, comes from the influence it has on America, as a leading state, and from its constant influence on its colonies. France, Russia and France have also worked together after the American-British war against Iraq to generate some form of influence on the leading state, and consequently on the global politics, from an international aspect.
The example of the states that have no influence on the leading state, and consequently on global politics is the subordinate state as well as that which revolves in orbit. With regards the subordinate state, it is not possible to influence the leading state except by how much it is used by the state it follows. Likewise, the state that revolves in orbit, obtains its influence from the superpower in whose orbit it revolves.
With regards to other than non subordinate states and those not revolving in orbit, namely the independent states, such as Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Italy and Sweden, as an example, these can influence global politics, from an international aspect, if they safeguarded or threatened the interests of the leading state. As an example to that is what each of Italy and Spain has done of safeguarding one of the important interests of America through supporting her in her occupation of Iraq in 2003.
Therefore, any state that wishes to have influence on global politics and use it in its favor must follow one of two courses: It has either to pose effective threat to the real interests of the leading state in the international situation; or it has to safeguard the interests of the leading state by making compromise for its favor.
The effective threat is the assured productive path; as well as it is the appropriate one for the true state that aims at a guaranteed effect and a heard voice in the international situation. With regards to the second path that aims at safeguarding interests, this is gloomy and unreliable; where it might achieve the aim, but it might lead to destruction. This is because it is a gamble with the entity of an ummah, and a foolish adventure of the destiny of a state. Since safeguarding the interest of a superpower by any state does not prevent the superpower from making a bargain over this interest with any state of less importance and capabilities.
America has compromised her traditional western European states in 2003 after she called them ‘old Europe’, and started to look for states of East Europe to replace them in her alliance over the issue of Iraq. She also alluded to Britain when she tried to dissuade her from pursuing her path concerning invasion of Iraq without referring to the United Nations for obtaining legitimacy from it. Rumsfeld, the American defence minister said then: “America is capable to go for Iraq without Britain”.
In order that a state can pose a threat to the interests and create effective influence, it must have obtained defence capabilities and means of complete domestic control. The only right course to achieve this is to proceed in the advanced revival path; ie it should have an ideology and carry a global message. It starts with its neighbours so as to protect itself from intervention in its domestic affairs. It should not restrict itself on defending its borders; it should rather expand with its ideology and influence, so as to compete with the leading state in the international situation.
In order a state can budge the leading state from its leading role, it must change the political environment to its favour, and attract the other states politically to it and its thought. This is like what Germany did before World War II. Once a state managed to do that, the international situation becomes unstable, thus waiting a state to assume the position of the leading state. This does not generally happen unless a war takes place and changes the situation, whether it was a world war or a limited partial war. This might also happen when the danger of a war against the leading state was most likely, and this state needs the help of the state that vies with it in its camp.
The position of the leading state in the world is not new; it rather existed in the past. In old history Egypt was the leading state; while Ashore in Iraq was competing with it over this post. Romans were the leading state, while Persia was competing with it over this post. Islamic state was the leading state since Khilafa Rashida till the crusader wars; and it did not face then any competition over this post. France was the leading state and England was competing with it over this post. Ottoman state, as a Khilafah state, was the leading state for about three centuries, and it did not have any competition over this post till mid 18th century. Before World War I Germany was the leading state, while England and France were competing with it over this post. After World War I England was the leading state and France was competing with it over this post. Little before World War II Britain was the leading state, and Germany was competing with it over this post till it was about to be the leading state just before the break out of World War II. However, America took part in this war, which ended by assuming this post by America. She started to draw the international politics and political situation, for she was the strongest state in taking the international politics to her side. She continued to control the international situation, where only the political events that she wanted would take place and be executed. SU, as well as Britain and France continued their trail to compete with her then; and they joined her in influencing the global politics to a certain extent in accordance with the power of these states, where SU tried strongly and Britain did less.
With regards to the SU, it succeeded to stand as a partner and an ally on the side of America. While England retreated and started to decline till it reached its current situation. This was because England started to wake up after the blow it received in World War II, and started its attempt to budge America from the leading state post. It started to undertake political actions to influence America; so it did not play except a symbolic role in the Korean War. It used to pass to China the military information of America, where China was the real power that conducted the Korean War. England managed through its devious hidden means to influence the international position of America in the Korean War, which led to destabilize her post. It also stood on the side of the Eastern camp in Geneva Conference, which was convened to solve the Indo-Chinese issue, so it came out with resolutions in favour of the Eastern camp. Moreover, it used to pass to Russia the intelligent and military news of America; and one of the news it passed to Russia was the information about the plane U2, which led to bringing it down. In Paris Conference, Macmillan stood on Khrushchev’s side against Eisenhower, trying to humiliate him as a president of USA, which led to the failure of the conference and weakening of America’s position. Thus, England undertook many actions for attacking America, trying to influence the post of the leading state; but America noticed that. Then, the meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy took place in Vienna; where England turned since then from the position of attacking America to defending itself, because Russia (SU) and America started since then to work together for eliminating England in the world.
SU used to ignite cold war against the western camp, singling out America with the greatest part. It was trying to take initiative from the western camp, and working to budge America from the post of leading state in order to become the leading state in the world. It succeeded in many actions, where it managed to displace America from its strong fortress, which is the UN, to holding conferences outside UN, for solving international problems. It used to encourage England for competing with America so as weaken the role of the leading state, and to increase the split for the sake of weakening the role of the leading state. It also increased the split between France and America and made great effect on international actions. Besides; SU made progress in space till it surpassed America; it also surpassed her in the field of nuclear weapons and transcontinental ballistic missiles. It established a military basis for it in Cuba to pose threat to America, and exposed many of the American (colonial) styles in Congo, Egypt and Algeria, besides other countries. However, despite that caused great effect on America, it did not budge it from the post of the leading state. It was rather partial gains in some political issues, internationally. SU did not however despair from attacking America by using the cold war styles till the meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy in 1961. The two leaders met in June of 1961 in Vienna, the Capital of Austria, and agreed to divide the world between them. After that date, each of Britain and France was dropped from international politics; and SU and America drew alone together this politics. Britain failed in all of its attempts after that to have a voice in global politics; and the same happened to France, even at time of De Gall, where it could not advance one step in creating influence to itself in discussing global politics. The situation continued like that till 1989 when Berlin wall was brought down, the SU was fragmented two years after that and the cold war came to an end. Russia officially inherited the situation of the SU in the beginning of the nineties of last century. However, it was dropped from the second rank in international politics, where a new international situation existed in which USA became for the first time without an international partner. The world entered into an unprecedented international stage. So, America tried, in the last days of Bush, the senior, to draw a unilateral international policy, and he used the term of new world order. However, this order did not succeed, and it remained ambiguous; besides the international situation remained clouded till Clinton assumed authority in 1992. He laid down a new world order that does not depend on unilateralism, rather on superiority. Clinton administration started to lay down the pillars of the new order, whose most important pillar was the policy of partnership with other superpowers. This was reflected in the settlement of the Balkan problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and in the disassembly of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and Byelorussia though mutual understanding with Russia. Memorandums of mutual understanding were signed between America and the states that were part of the eastern group, where Britain and Germany participated in the signature of some of these memorandums. America also managed in that period, and through the politics of partnership, to expand the NATO pact through cooperation with west Europe states, which they benefited from the expansion of EU. All of this expansion was done on the account of Russia and its influence.
This period was distinguished by the ascent of German power. This is because the fall down of Berlin wall, and removing the support to East Germany was accompanied by unification of East Germany and West Germany with outstanding speed. New Germany became the biggest economic force in Europe, and grew into an effective and influential political force, where America and Europe started to seek its favour. The matter reached a point where discussion started about the entry of Germany into the club of permanent states in the SC, by America, Europe and the world.
This new political situation was accompanied with new economic situation, where the politics of (open) market have been greatly activated. This was manifested in politics of globalization, which became imposed on the world. Thus, the companies went into Cartels to become of giant scale; and they appeared as a principal economic player that imposes its policies on the governments. Multinational companies became the talk show of the economists. GATT treaty was transformed in 1995 into a global trading organisation, so as to protect the politics of globalisation under a legal cover. The role of World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) was activated, such that this trio: World Trade Organisation (WTO), WB, and IMF started to be used by superpowers as a means of intervention and pressure in the economic policies of the states. Laurence Eagleburger, the past American foreign minister, and Michel Kamdiso, the head of WB acknowledged that the WB was used to bring down the authority of Suhartu through forcing the policy of floating the currency and depriving him of loans in case he did not accept such policy. So, he surrendered to this demand, floated the currency, and then he was deposed.
The role of the G7, which are the seven industrial states, was activated by adding Russia to them. Thus, these eight industrial countries, which are: America, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia have controlled the international economic and financial policies. The state of China can be added to these eight states, because it has a great economic weight, a nuclear force, population weight and a permanent seat in the SC. This would mean with some liberty that the current superpowers in the world are these nine states. The disparity of the force of these states allows us to eliminate two of them, namely Italy and Canada, because they do not have any political or geopolitical forces that qualify them to play a global role. This means there would remain only seven states that have influence on international politics, which are: America, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Japan. Though there is a difference between these states in terms of global influence, the first five states strive to have influence in different regions of the world; yet America has huge superiority over the other four. China, on the other side, yearns for influence within its regional sphere; whilst Japan looks for influence in various regions in the world, but on economic basis.
The former French foreign minister, Hoper Vidrin said in his book “Pledges of France at globalisation time”: “This single power (America), which dominates over all of the economic, technologic, military, currency, linguistic and cultural areas, is an unprecedented case in history”, as he described it. Vidrin puts then a classification for the states in terms of power and influence, saying: “USA represents the first rank in the world, without a rival. In the second rank comes the seven states that have global influence, which are: France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Japan and India, on condition they start to widen their vision, which is still regional”. He adds saying: “The criterion of this classification are many, which include national income, technological level, nuclear weapons together with the quantity and quality level of these weapons, association with international organisations and formations, Security Council, G8 group or EU and then the propagation of the past heritage of language and cultural influence”.
There is an opinion, which is more accurate than Vidrin’s opinion that after the giant state, America, which is not matched by any other state at the beginning of 21st century, there are three real superpowers, which are: Russia, Britain and France. After these three states Germany comes next. These four states have international ambitions in many places in the world. China comes next as a regional superpower. Had it not been narrow in its international ambitions, it would have competed some or all of the mentioned four states. With regards to Japan, it is the greatest state after America, economically. Therefore the order of the power of the states is as follows: America, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, China and Japan. The term of superpower can apply to these seven states. With regards to India, Canada and Italy, they do not deserve to be called a superpower, though they come next to these seven states; where they form with them the first ten states in the world.
By the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the third thousand years, the administration of George Bush, the son tried to change the rules of the game. It gave up the partnership policy followed by Clinton, and started to impose its policies over the superpowers by force. It withdrew from many international treaties such as that of Kiyoto, international court of crimes, Salt treaties for reduction of ballistic missiles and others. Tension increased between her and other superpowers after the events of 11th September 2001, where explosions took place in World Trade Centre in New York, and Pentagon building in Washington. This gave her a new incentive towards unilateralism; and she used these explosions as excuse to fight what she called terrorism. So she occupied Afghanistan and Iraq under this pretext. Political arrogance reigned over the American administration, where it adopted the policy of “you are either with us or against us”. These new policies provoked angry reaction from Europeans and others, who accused them of simplification and naivety, and asked the American to resort to consultation and partnership. However, the American refused to return to the rules of partnership and consultation followed by Clinton. The so-called neo-conservatives, led by Dick Cheney, the vice president, Rumsfeld, the defence minister, Wolvowitz, his deputy, Richard Pearl, the head of the centre of defence policies, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Condoleezza Reis and others, these managed to influence the decisions of Bush. They employed all of their faculties, influence and the companies that support them to serve these policies.
One of these important policies was to ignore the UN and its legitimacy in taking resolution: and giving the priority to the American interest instead. If such interest contradicted with international legitimacy, international legitimacy has to be ignored. If however it did not contradict, then it would be activated. This is the way she dealt with SC; if she succeeded in producing resolutions from the SC, it will be alright; otherwise it would be ignored and neglected.
Europe, represented by Britain tried to dissuade the American administration from bypassing the international legitimacy. This attempt won to its side the American foreign minister, Collin Powel, and the president Bush inclined to it. However, the neoconservatives group foiled this attempt. America continued to ignore the partnership policy, as well as giving an effective role to the international organisation.
However, the administration of Bush, the junior failed to exclude the superpowers, Britain, Russia, France and Germany from playing a role in international politics. Rather, this policy followed by the administration of Bush, the junior strengthened the positions of these states instead of weakening them. This is because they resorted to unite for defending themselves against this forceful American attack on them. This axis cooperated secretly with Britain; so these states managed through opposition and leniency to hold on their positions as effective superpowers, to a certain limit, in international politics.
The full book is available from Revival Publications