Renowned Emirati Thinker Releases New Book: ‘Prospects for the American Age’

  • 26 February 2014

A new English-language book charting the evolution and prospects of the world order was released today by renowned Emirati thinker Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi. Closely following the successful launch of the original Arabic publication on January 27, 2014,Prospects for the American Age: Sovereignty and Influence in the New World Order seeks to provide a scholarly examination of the global balance of power among states and economic blocs, suggests a model for the classification of states according to their levels of power and influence in the world, and discusses the important question of whether the United States of America will remain the dominant power of the age.

The Introduction seeks to deliver a new thesis on the power structure of the new world order anddetails the main themesof the book. It presents the hypothesis of the study, posing several key questions including: what are the factors that indicate the existence of a new world order? What are the most influential forces in that order? How is that order structured? And what are the most important and influential factors determining the nature of the world order?

The Introduction also presents the main premise of the book—that the United States of America is the dominant pole in the new world order, and that the world will continue to exist in an ‘American age’ that is expected to extend for at least a further five decades. The qualitative supremacy of the United States of America is proven inescapable according to the data, statistics and information presented, as well as the scales and variables of comparison adopted by the author in terms of economics, military advancement, energy resources, transportation/logistics, education, culture, and technological progress. According to these measures, the structure of the new world order may be described as a pyramidal hierarchy, with the United States of America alone at the top, followed by a second tier comprising Russia, China and the European Union, a third tier consisting of Japan, India and Brazil, anda final tier representing the rest of world. The Introduction serves as a basic foundation for the analysis presented in the following seven chapters, which examine the emergence, current status, and future prospects of the new world order in its various dimensions.

The first chapter, “The New World Order: Features and Concepts,”presents a theoretical paradigm for the concept of the new world order. It features two main themes: the first examines concepts relating to the world order, drawing on literature that examines its evolution from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 to the present day, and presents various different views and arguments concerning the nature of the world order and the distribution of power within it. The first theme also explores the political, military, economic, cultural, educational, technological and energy-related dimensions of the world order, and their importance in determining the relative power of its major actors. Moreover, it reveals how the United States of America has succeeded in utilizing all these tools to achieve its ends, leading the global order according to a universal strategic vision aimed at maintaining its supremacy vis-à-vis other major powers. Finally, the first theme presents an objective assessment of the different frameworks thatmay be employed in analyzing the concept of the new world order. The second theme of this chapter discusses the main features of the new world order which play a significant role in the interactions that occur within it, and which define it with regard to previous historical incarnations of the global system.

Chapter II, “Factors Influencing the Structure of the New World Order,” examines patterns of influence and interaction within the world order, and discusses relations among civilizations, relative power in international relations, economic factors, military superiority, technological development, levels of knowledge, various relevant challenges and variables, and the behavior of major powers.

Chapter III, “The New World Order: Decisive Junctures,” aims to draw a comprehensive analytical map to assist in understanding the historical transformations of the world order and, ultimately, the nature of contemporary global realities. The historical review presented in this chapter may be considered unique, in that it tackles the evolution of the world order from the emergence of the Ottoman state in the East through the ages of the Spanish, Portuguese and other empires of the West. It is an effort to present a balanced, scholarly chronicle of the world order, without neglecting the influence of the East on international relations throughout history.

Chapter IV, “The New World Order: Economy, Trade and Energy,” focuses on the role of economic factors in determining the structure of the new world order and the hierarchy of powers within it. It reveals that despite the spectacular rise of the Chinese economy over the past two decades, it still represents only half that of the United States of America, and China remains among the ranks of developing countries in terms of its GDP per capita. While the US economy is characterized by flexibility and a high reliance on innovation and internal forces for growth, China depends on foreign investment and low-cost labor in export-oriented industries. This could make China more vulnerable to adverse economic shocks in the future.

The author also expects that developments in the energy sector will greatly affect the ranking of powers in the new world order. The United States of America will increasingly become self-dependent in terms of energy, utilizing its various innovations in the field of shale oil and gas extraction, and its gradual shift toward reliance on unconventional energy sources from the western hemisphere (the Americas), giving it a strong comparative advantage in the future.

Chapter V, “Public Opinion and the New World Order: A Survey of the UAE Population,”presents the findings of a public opinion survey in the UAE concerning the new world order. The survey cites nationality, age, gender and educational level as explanatory variables of the differences in public opinion toward the new world order.

In Chapter VI, “Prospective Structural Changes and their Consequences for the New World Order,” the author discusses potential structural and strategic changes in the new world order over the coming five decades,suggesting that sustainedunipolarity will have a variety of impacts on the world. The author anticipates that US influence in international financial institutions will increase, and that over the next decade Washington will reduce its dependence on oil from regions plagued by risk and instability – such as the Middle East – and that this will affect US policy in such regions.

In Chapter VII, “The New World Order: Future Outlook,” the author confirms that the new world order will be characterized by a number of key features that will act as important determinants of the ranking of world powers in the future. These include the growing importance of technologically advanced and unconventional systems of production and communication to replace decaying conventional systems, and an increasing reliance on genetic engineering, cloning and nanotechnology in finding solutions to key issues such as achieving food and water security, narrowing the energy resource gap, achieving breakthroughs in medicine, and further developing human capabilities. Other features include increasing pressure on the capitalist system to develop in order to sustain itself in the face of economic shocks.

In the Conclusion to the book, the author suggests that the Arab region is a central arena in the world and the focus of a variety of conflicts that are of direct relevance to the prospects for the American age. The author cites the Syrian crisis and the recent toppling of long-standing political regimes in some Arab countries that date to before the development of the new world order, such as in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. The author believes that, in light of the obstacles to development faced by many Arab states, it is difficult to say that the near future will herald improvements in these countries’ circumstances, particularly in light of the worsening internal crises in major Arab nations like Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and the strategic expansion of regional non-Arab powers to fill the void left by the declining regional role of traditional Arab powers. This comes alongside increasing influence for Israel, which is now in the most advantageous strategic position since its creation, thanks to the absence of any significant resistance from Arab countries, which are preoccupied with internal crises or threats emanating from neighboring states. The conclusion also claims that economics will not simply be a factor in the calculation of states’ roles and positions in the new world order, but rather the central engine of change for small and mid-sized powers.

This volume represents a significant contribution to the body of Arab literature on the development of the global order and the ever-evolving balance of power between states.It presents an informed view that is comprehensive, objective and analytical, grounded in a broad base of statistics, data and related information, and will be of interest to scholars, researchers and general readers alike.