This is why it’s important to understand and to take into account that what’s coming is not the end of the world, rather the end of America which will bring down the Western-dominated world.
World-historical changes are not conveniently demarcated by the turn of the centuries, but the 21st century looks like the opening of a new “paradigm” that might replace what has been called “The Modern Era” itself.
The U.S. obviously wanted an agreement more than Iran did. Every long-held American position was diluted or dropped as the Iranians became spectators serenely awaiting the sure-to-come moment when the Americans would capitulate yet again. Diplomacy without strength is a futile undertaking, adding poignancy to the U.S. explanation that our situation was so intrinsically weak that we had to accept “the best deal we could get.” Of the deal’s many oddities the strangest was to negotiate on how Iran would break the deal or see it disappear at the end of a specified time.
When questioned why “anywhere, anytime” inspections are not in the deal, administration supporters have asserted that as a legitimate sovereign state Iran of course could never allow such intrusions into its national security facilities.
So Iran emerges with sanctions lifted, frozen funds restored, a de facto U.S. security guarantee of “no military option,” the perception that it already is a nuclear weapons threshold state and the knowledge that it need not fear any restoration of sanctions. Most psychologically significant, Iran’s decades-long conduct of a nuclear program has been given retroactive legitimacy by the United States. If you want to acquire nuclear weapons, here’s how.
Beyond the Middle East, other power centers already have been enlarging their own spheres across and beyond international state borders. China and Russia must now be understood to be supra-state, neo-imperial powers. Turkey has been considering this in recent years. Egypt’s distinctively influential position in the Arab-Islamic world is likely to take its own form, but it too now must think beyond the bounds of the state. Israel, which since its founding as a modern state has pursued a grand strategy of gaining recognition internationally as a legitimate sovereign state with secure and recognized borders, now sees that effort as gravely undermined as the state system in the Middle East collapses.
Thus the decline and perhaps even the end of the established international system set in place by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 may be contemplated. Already we can see principles based upon this idea of order being ignored or overridden: freedom of the seas; professional military standards; the non-acquisition of territory by force; use of chemical weapons.
This deleterious trend began before the current upheavals in the Middle East. Since the end of the Cold War, the European Union has amounted to an assault, albeit peaceful and well meaning, on the validity of the Westphalian structure. The EU achieved a neo-imperial bureaucracy but forfeited the international power and influence it predicted for itself by deciding to demilitarize.
Other world power centers will not make that mistake. If the international state system is on the way out, so also may the modern era itself be coming into question.
Full article: Are We Moving to a New World Order? Is Pax Americana Dead? (Newsweek)