The world has always been led by different ideologies which somehow remain skewed towards geographical advantage. For eg. capitalism thrived in the Americas, communism worked in Russia and trickled into China and eventually, smaller nations in the vicinity coalesced around these ideologies. As a result, these big nations/geographical areas became sources of power, privilege with a confirmed berth in the elite strata of nations. However, as we see , this tradition is up for a toss everyday as smaller nations re-assert their political, economic and social stature in these fast changing times.
For instance, Vietnam, sharing a similar political ideology and a huge trade relation with neighboring China seems to be at crossroads with the Chinese policy-makers when it comes to strategic interests, garnering support from its ASEAN allies such as Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Be it the oil-blocks in the South China Sea or the issue over the Spratly Islands, an opposition is under way which somehow never showed up in the past.
Israel, for instance, leads the world in defense research and supplies critical arms’ infrastructure to high defense spending countries like India. This not only puts Israel on a favorite sticker for countries with larger territories, but also, reinstates its strong position in the somewhat not-so-peaceful Persian neighborhood. Also, Sri Lanka, a small island in the Bay of Bengal, has been a passive bone of contention in the recent past between India and China as Chinese submarines docked at Sri Lankan ports, encircling India all the way to Gwadar at Karachi, Pakistan now operated by China.
Further, the Crimean annexation divided the world on ideologies and theories of social justice, territorial integrity as economic sanctions were imposed on Russia. This of course has long term effects, not only on the Russian people but also the world. Russia’s oil reserves have lost huge revenues and so has grown the trade imbalance which it is trying hard to contain by promoting more indigenous manufacturing. Although U.S. shale oil reserves are reported to be huge not to worry their economy much, but a parallel power block ranging from Russia to Syria, Iran (both small) does pose a credible threat to world peace.
With growing dissatisfaction with the American policy especially over the IP laws, we perhaps look at times when China and Russia enter into a symbiotic treaty on oil, manufacturing. Of course, this was much on the agenda when the two leaders met in Beijing at the recent Chinese exhibition of war-readiness. This would affect, if not hurt, the world economy and in macroeconomics, any change has its cost for a certain period of time. As we realize, Crimea, a nation with just over 1 million inhabitants was able to polarize the world and build such apparent power blocks.
On a more constructive side, Singapore, over the last 50 years, has developed into a powerful knowledge economy leading to its status of a magnet city. Hong Kong (with the autonomous governance), alongside Singapore, is the global financial hub and is a huge stakeholder to all key decisions taken when it comes to infrastructure spending, financial policies etc. Scandinavian nations (all considerably small in size again!) top the global list on happiness index, freedom of press, ease of doing business and a lot other parameters.
Also, when the Nepal Constituent Assembly discards the proposal to adopt Hinduism as the ideology of the state, it points towards changing times where small states feel the responsibility to be more inclusive and liberal in order to thrive. A republic Nepal would do away with a lot of local issues that the government faces, especially, post the insurgency period.
With this shift occurring quite rapidly, it is imperative that small nations act responsibly, not just for themselves, but also their neighborhood and the world. I am sure you would have more compelling evidence of how small nations delineate the future of the world in the 21st century and I look forward to more of those through your comments.