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Sunday, 17 May 2020

Middle powers tackle diplomatic void (NYT)

I noticed this NYT article last week and it triggered me. I've been thinking a lot about the imminent geopolitical vacuum and I'm still without an answer how that vacuum will be filled. Please also see the related Dutch article by Rob de Wijk, which I published earlier this morning.

This imminent vacuum assumes that USA will continue retreating from international alliances, bodies, treaties and so on. Whether Trump will (not) be re-elected may not matter that much anymore. I expect that USA will just be a regional player.

It's unclear to me "who" can and will fill that vacuum. Neither China nor Russia can be trusted. Both lack credibility, following their ongoing disinformation campaigns (eg, Chinese coronavirus research, Crimea invasion, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, re-education camps for Chinese Uyghurs).

Today, it's more likely that the EU will split into a Northern and Southern union than that the EU will become a Federation of European states (my recent blog). 

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New York Times title: Middle powers tackle diplomatic void

AuthorIsabella Kwai

Date: 12 May 2020


"Middle-power countries like Australia and others in Europe and Asia are forging new bonds from what they have learned from the coronavirus pandemic: that the risks of China’s authoritarian government can no longer be denied, and that the U.S. cannot be relied on to lead.

Australia, for example, has become the sudden leader of a push to bolster international institutions, after it called for a World Health Organization inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. Europe has joined the effort.

The call for an investigation infuriated Beijing, which has rejected criticism of its initial response to the coronavirus. The move, indicative of Australia’s greater willingness to confront China, has shaken up global diplomacy.

“For the rules-based international order to mean anything, it needs to be upheld,” said one Australian lawmaker. “If the world doesn’t respond and act now, when will it ever act?”

Looking ahead: The middle-power alliances might be short-lived, but they could also offer an alternative to the dynamic between the world’s two superpowers."
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