Isolating Russia to destroy its economy, financial system, and currency failed as the world is no longer Western-centric. Economic sanctions united US adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran, while non-aligned states and partners such as India, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have diversified their economic connectivity to reduce dependence on the West, writes Valdai Club expert Glenn Diesen.
The sanctions against Russia have altered the processes of globalisation and thereby even changed the world order. The consequence of unprecedented sanctions is that Russia has largely been severed economically from Europe, while the US has restored hegemonic control over its NATO allies. Although the wider world outside NATO has moved in the opposite direction – US adversaries have united, and neutral/non-aligned states are also reducing reliance on the US to adopt multipolarity. The consequence is that the European order is defined by a post-Westphalian hegemonic order under US administration, while the rest of the world is moving with great speed towards a Westphalian world order based on a balance of power among sovereign equals.
The revisionist efforts to replace the Westphalian world order
The Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which laid the foundation for the modern world order, abandoned the aspirations of a hegemonic system in favour of a balance of power among sovereign states. The system demanded pragmatism as permanent alliances would obstruct the ability to balance states aspiring for hegemony. Sovereign equality was ensured by departing away from substantive laws based on diverse social norms that created overlapping sovereignty and enabled arbitrary decision-making as the more powerful states could justify dominance on their unique values. The Westphalian system is based on procedural agreements based on uniform rules that apply equally to all states as sovereign equals, which laid the foundation for modern international law.
The Westphalian world order has been undermined by the hegemonic ambitions of actors such as Napoleon, Hitler, and post-Cold War America. Over the past 30 years, Washington has been a revisionist actor by rejecting the Westphalian world order of a balance of power and sovereign equality. In Europe, this involved abandoning the agreements for an inclusive pan-European security architecture as outlined in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), because the key principles were a Europe without dividing lines based on sovereign equality and indivisible security. The alternative of NATO expansionism was instrumental to advance a hegemonic order based on sovereign inequality. The pre-Westphalian formula of sovereign inequality between Catholics and Protestants has been reconstructed as sovereign inequality between “liberal democracies” and “authoritarian regimes”. Sovereign equality under international law has been replaced by sovereign inequality under the “international rules-based order” in which the collective West can cite liberal values to arbitrarily interfere in domestic affairs, topple governments, invade, and change international borders.