The Impact of Regionalism and the Role of the G20
Edited by Jehoon Park, T. J. Pempel and Geng Xiao
Chapter 1: Northeast Asia in the Multipolar World-System
Immanuel Wallerstein1 1.1 INTRODUCTION The period of United States hegemony in the world-system is now definitively at an end. The slow decline since the 1970s was transformed into a precipitate decline brought about by the self-defeating tactics of the presidency of George W. Bush (Wallerstein, 2007a). We are now living in a world-system in which there are emerging eight to ten centers of relative geopolitical autonomy. The word ‘relative’ should be underlined. The four strongest such centers are located in what is sometimes called the global North. The first three are in my opinion the United States (which continues of course to be an extremely strong power center, if far less powerful than previously), Western Europe (based on the critical France–Germany tandem) and Russia. The fourth such center is Northeast Asia, by which I mean China, Korea and Japan, the group meeting here as the Asian Economic Community. The strength of these four centers can be measured by the overall combination each one has assembled of military strength, economic strength, and political and ideological strength. The proportion of each of these factors is of course different for each of the four, but each combination adds up to considerable strength. The relatively autonomous centers in the global South are no doubt less strong overall than these four. Nonetheless, the geopolitical power of each is not negligible. And together, even without any collective organization, they are likely to play an increasingly important geopolitical role. A world of eight to ten relatively...
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