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Grave New World

MADRID – Global transformations are nothing new. But, with globalization and technological advancements, the pace and scale of such transformations have accelerated considerably. In the coming decades, this trend will only intensify – bringing with it significant potential for instability.

It has been more than 20 years since Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait, prompting the near-unanimous adoption of United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Iraqi forces. When Saddam defied the resolutions, a 34-country coalition, supporting the United States-led air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm, drove his troops out of Kuwait.

That was in 1991, when the Soviet Union’s collapse had left the US as the world’s only superpower. But that is no longer the case – a reality that is reflected in the international community’s muddled responses to similar territorial breaches today.

Consider Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea earlier this year. Though the move clearly violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity, 11 countries voted against the UN resolution condemning the action, and 58 countries – including all of the non-Western powers – abstained. Clearly, the global balance of power has changed.