2018 – A New World Order in Review

Spearhead Special Report – 03.01.2019

By Fatima Ayub
Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

2018 was a year of erratic belligerence. World politics shifted from a rules-based international order to a time of populist uprisings, a greater international diffusion of power, increasingly militarized foreign policies, and shrinking space for multilateralism and diplomacy. For the better part of the preceding century, for better and for worse, U.S. power and alliances have shaped international affairs, set limits, and structured regional orders. For this reason, the stunning, defining feature of the past year has been an altogether new lesson in the laws of the New World Order, that with rules of accountability and order lagging, with the right amount of power – anyone can get away with anything.

As the era of largely uncontested U.S. primacy fades, the international order has been thrown into chaos. More leaders are tempted more often to test limits, fight for power, and seek to bolster their influence—or diminish that of their rivals—by meddling in foreign proxy conflicts. As hybrid warfare becomes the new norm replacing weaponized warfare, multilateralism and its constraints were seen to be more than ever under siege, challenged by swift, transactional, zero-sum politics.

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