Post-Cold War International Politics: Emerging Trends

Rumi Forum Afternoon Talk hosted Dr. Muhammad Islam, Dean and Director of the Islamabad Campus, Iqra University as the resource person on January 31, 2013.

Having completed his Ph.D. in Political Science on “Political Liberalization in Post-Communist Central Asia: A Comparative Study,” at the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA in 1999, Dr. Muhammad Islam had earlier had his M.Sc. in International Relations and M.Phil in US Studies from the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad in the 1980s.

Bringing along more than 30 years’ experience in teaching and research, Dr. Islam had also worked as the Acting Director of the Area Study Centre, Quaid-e-Azam University as well as the Director Academic Affairs of the Bahria University, Islamabad.

Rumi Forum’s Afternoon Talk on “Post-Cold War International Politics: Emerging Trends” attracted an audience of think-tank staff, university students and members of special interest groups on IR and Political Science. Speaking on the theme, Dr. Islam gave an overview of the Cold War concept and the defining characteristics of the era which left indelible effects on the existing world order. Summarizing the emerging trends in the current scenario, Dr. Muhammad Islam contacted the concepts originating from globalization and post-1989 world which is characterized with new-fangled independent states and shift from dictatorships into fresher subjugations in terms of liberty, economy, and social changes in a unipolar world.

Dr. Islam summarized emerging trends under the titles of hegemony, soft and hard balancing, dominance of liberal economic and political ideologies, increasing support for humanitarian intervention, little room for renegade states and the disappearance of protective shields around smaller states in the wake of the current unipolar world, national and global ecological, national, and social movements, self-empowerment of the societies as soft-balancing powers adjusting against hard-balancing powers of the states.

Dr. Muhammad Islam stated that the world is still divided between the rich and the poor and added that sufficient change is still non-existent while interpretations of globalization may reveal themselves in the economically and culturally expansionist policies of the strong states and multinational companies tapping for the once-unreachable potentials of the world’s distant corners.

Showcasing the shift from a traditional world into a globalized world, Dr. Islam mentioned that in 1947, 75 per cent of the world’s wealth originated from the United States, while in 2013, only 19 per cent of the world’s wealth originates from the US, with the advent of new actors such as China, India, and Korea.

Mentioning about the shift of hegemony and the use soft and hard power in today’s world, Dr. Islam stated that hegemony had many facets and institutional hegemonies filled in the vacuums of state hegemonies.

Giving examples from the states which employ soft-balancing against hard-balancing nations by means of refusing to cooperate with them and using diplomacy to counteract power-based actions, Dr. Islam mentioned about the states that move the UN Security Council to take action against unilaterally acting nations and these states’ denial of support and military assistance to expansionist world powers. He also deliberated on the inconsistency between the responses shown to Syria and Mali by the Western (and partially the Muslim) public and state opinion in majority, and added that even humanitarian intercession and assistance measures are sometimes being used for the benefit of the domineering policies to the extent of violating various countries’ rights of sovereignty.