Dying Empires and Shifting Powers: Western Nightmares of the Ascendant Dragon

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By Moshi Israel

The world is undergoing rapid transformation, a reality of which nearly everyone is acutely aware, thanks in large part to the advanced technologies at our disposal that capture these shifts in real time. This has led to a palpable sense of alarm over the intensity and pace of these changes. Many current and Traditional World powers are coming to terms with a noticeable shift in global political dynamics, as control seems to be gradually eluding their grasp. This situation can be likened to the precariousness of clinging to the sharp edge of a skyscraper to prevent a fall. While this might seem like a natural progression from the viewpoint of the average citizen, from the perspective of established authorities, the scenario unfolds with far-reaching implications.

Observing that the Western bloc is experiencing a decline does not constitute an assault on its integrity, although there is justification for assaulting western integrity. Moreover, such acknowledgments have even been made by Western leaders themselves. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s chief diplomat, has starkly proclaimed that the “era of Western dominance has definitively ended.” However, my perspective is not as bleak as Mr. Borrell’s. I maintain that there is still an opportunity for Western nations to reassess their approach towards global political governance. The essence of Borrell’s argument hints at a potential solution to the swift decline of the West. He cautions against dividing the world into ‘the West against the Rest’, highlighting accusations from many in the ‘Global South of double standards.’ This insight underscores the need for a more inclusive and equitable international framework that eschews divisive narratives.

Regrettably, certain Western governments are persistently engaging in divisive tactics, particularly targeting China. The underlying motivation for such actions, despite various ‘moral’ justifications presented by the West, stems from China’s rapid ascent. A number of Western political analysts and policymakers are unwilling to coexist in a world where China assumes a leading role in political, military, cultural, and economic spheres. They position themselves as the defenders of Western ‘exceptionalism,’ yet often, their views do not reflect the sentiments of the broader populace within their nations. Nonetheless, their relentless quest for perpetual dominance and their constant fixation on the potential threats posed by China’s growth have contributed to a global environment steeped in turmoil.

The global landscape is currently fraught with challenges, from the ascendancy of gangs in Haiti and the humanitarian crisis stemming from the Gaza conflict, to ongoing hostilities in Ukraine and heightened tensions across the Middle East – including in Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. Additionally, unrest in the Sahel region, renewed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the looming menace of climate change, seemingly present a formidable agenda for global leaders. Unfortunately, there is no clear plan or indication that all of these crises are being managed cooperatively within the United Nations framework. Instead, everyone is either choosing sides or completely turning a blind eye to these issues, with the notable exception being China which has overly sung the chorus of strategic cooperation to a disinterested crowd.

Recent reports indicate that Niger has severed military relations with the United States, following a similar disengagement from France, which has been increasingly displaced by Russia across Africa. Furthermore, Russia has been actively eroding Western influence globally, while efforts to manage Netanyahu have proven futile, and threats from Iran and North Korea are escalating. As Josep Borrell, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs noted, the Global South is reevaluating its perspective on the West, and the outlook is far from favorable. The BRICS+ continuous growth is also chipping away at Western dominance. In this context, it is imperative for Western policies to evolve, focusing on genuine promotion of Western exceptionalism of democracy without hypocrisy, moral standards without double standards, Global prosperity with active Global South participation. The West indeed needs to ‘build back better’ but this time with entirely new and different construction material because the existing system is damaged beyond repair.

Many of today’s global crises could be resolved through compromise and negotiation, particularly when the parties involved hold no malice towards each other. Indeed, simplicity often underpins the solution in such scenarios. Notably, among the world’s major powers, China stands out as the most committed to pacifism.

At present, the immediate concerns for Western nations primarily revolve around Russia and Iran. Yet, in a long-term perspective, political leaders in the West have consistently identified China as the most significant security challenge to the prevailing global order. China’s ascendancy is undeniable, and in the context of its cultural symbolism, the dragon—a figure believed in Chinese lore to govern water phenomena—serves as a metaphor for the potential impact of China’s rise on the West. Depending on the West’s approach, China’s advancement could be perceived either as beneficial rainfall or as overwhelming floods.

This raises a critical question: faced with a binary choice between relinquishing global dominance or precipitating a cataclysmic Third World War, what decision will certain Western governments make?

The Writer is a Senior Research Fellow at DWC.



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