iii) The return of “hard” security. The world was meant to be focused on risks, and trans-global issues, not state-based threats. But with the collapse of the Copenhagen negotiations and, as Richard Gowan says, rising nationalist and populist forces at home, hard security issues are coming back, while the odds for preventing inter-state competition (whether in Central Asia, Latin America or the Gulf) are diminishing.
iv) The creation of the “Turkosphere”, a virtual empire, mapping on to the Ottoman Empire, that stretches from the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East – and into the EU – where the Ankara government is exercising increasing influence and promoting businesses, and championing its brand of Islam.
v) The death of Gaullism. The most resonant piece of evidence for the death of Gaullism was the feebleness of the resistance against France’s full return into Nato’s military integration. As Thomas Klau notes: Sarkozy is the final nail in Gaullism’s coffin, Dominique de Villepin its last hurrah.
vi) Germany’s introspection. For decades, Berlin’s steadfast Europeanism was a given, while the country slowly but surely normalised its international role. This has now seemed to stop. Germany is turning inwards, reverting to its erstwhile pacifism, and no longer seems interested in promoting EU solutions.
vii) The retirement of Japan. Some states are in decline, others are rising, but Japan is simply retiring. Tokyo is simply withdrawing from world affairs (see for example the withdrawal of forces from the Afghan theatre) and is accepting the future shape of a post-American Asia, dominated by China.
vii) The explosion of SAHEL. The ungoverned/misgoverned territory stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Western Sahara's Atlantic coast is emerging as tomorrow’s trouble spot. Drug-smuggling, underdevelopment and misrule in Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, makes the region ripe for Al Qaeda.
ix) Mosaic multilateralism. The formal, institutionalized nation-state multilateralism, which has characterized much of the Cold War period is disappearing to give way to a new form of multilateral cooperation, which accords more power to the BRICs, includes non-state actors like the IPCC, and will see the return of “coalitions of the willing” inside formal organizations like NATO.
xi) The end of value-promotion. The realism brought about by the economic crisis in the West, the vicissitudes of the War on Terror, the undermining of democracy in several EU member-states, and the global attractiveness of Russia’s “Sovereign Democracy” and China’s authoritarian capitalism means that it will be harder to promote liberal values, including democracy and human rights concerns.
xii) No "rogues". Finally, as Nader Mousavizadeh noted, the world that created "rogue states" is gone. The idea of "the rogue state" assumed the existence of an world community, unified to support certain values and interests, and different than the renegades who broke the rules. But this community has disappeared. The "international community" as defined by Western values is a fiction, and that for many states the term "rogue" applies to the US and Britain as much as to Venezuela.
I have probably missed a number of trends, while others have not yet become apparent. There are those people who will accuse me of being too state-centric – I’m guilty as charged. But, while there are plenty of transnational issues and actors to contend with, I think nation states remain the dominant player in world affairs. Others will say I have missed some cross-cutting issues, like energy and climate change. Perhaps, but these are already well-known, high on the Tory agenda and dealt with in the FCO.
The big omission – and answer to what Britain ought to do about all this – has been consciously omitted for a very simple reason: I have no clue. But the Foreign Office should know which trends a new British government should row with, which ones they should oppose and which new ones they should seek to encourage. I can already see the shape of the Foreign Secretary’s first request to his new department.