The increased interdependence and connectivity in contemporary times have resulted in the shifting paradigm of war fronts. The war is no longer considered just the armed confrontation between rival armies. In fact, an armed confrontation is not even the focus of warfare. Instead, its focus in today’s world has rather changed to the economic battlefield.
It is apt to say that new war fronts lie in economic zones. War today is a race for more economic gains, and the country holding the largest share of the global economy dictates the world order. Or, in other words, it can influence the world order more assertively. It is not too wrong to say that this is, indeed, the ‘new’ world order.
There are certain reasons behind this transformation. First, the threat of nuclear war has mitigated the possibility of armed conflict to a large extent, rendering economic warfare a useful war tactic. Second, the human and economic cost of armed conflict has also rolled out the logical basis of physical war, giving way to a more reasonable, strategic and effective approach to tackle down the external threats.
In the modern world, the progress and development in all sectors is dependent upon economic overreach. Even the military prowess is directly dependent upon economic standing. So, the shifting focus is deep-rooted in logical rationale. Contemporary manifestations of shifting war fronts can be observed, among other things, in the trade war between the United States and China, worldwide economic sanctions on Iran, efforts to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by the West and its allies, and the retaliation of Nato member states in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Moreover, the politicisation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by the West to wall off rival economies, and blatant biases of international financial institutions also provides latest validation of the new emerging battlefields. However, the threat can be mitigated by taking some bold steps. First, there is a dire need to reconfigure a world order in line with the democratic ideals; one having an equitable say from all formerly sidelined continents and areas, like the Global South and Africa, in affairs related to large-scale risk management. For this, the United Nations Security Council should be reformed to do away with prejudices and bloc formation in the international arena. Second, the FATF should be depoliticised to promote cooperation among regional economies that have formerly been set against each other due to the politicised role of the FATF.
World leaders need to shift their focus from national interests to collective human development initiatives. Protectionist policies should be done away with. Doing so will open up multiple areas of cooperation among nations instead of hostility.
Lastly, the spirit of competition must somehow give way to a spirit of cooperation to help achieve the ideal goal of a mass-friendly world order that has been nothing but a distant dream thus far.
Muhammad Mubasir Khan Akhrota