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The Years of Living Tactically

MADRID – We have been living in an illusion. For years, the world has believed that the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar order would be peaceful, orderly, and steady, with new players like China, Brazil, and Turkey adapting to the existing multilateral framework in a natural, harmonious way. How wrong we were.

In fact, as the transition toward multipolarity has progressed, the international order has become increasingly unstable and tense. The 2008 global financial crisis compounded uncertainty and mistrust, disrupting key trends like globalization. But the biggest problem has been the failure of the developed countries – the architects of the post-World War II international order – to formulate an inclusive strategy to address global challenges and manage the transition to a new international system.

The reason for this failure is simple: the West has allowed short-term tactical concerns to impede the development of a long-term strategic vision. This obsession with tactics has affected governance at all levels, from local administrations to supranational institutions, allowing major actors to operate within uncoordinated realities, without any shared goals guiding their decision-making.

To be sure, there have been some noteworthy exceptions, owing to concerted efforts to consolidate a constructive strategic vision. For example, Western policy has yielded some progress toward a resolution regarding Iran’s nuclear program.