Other Countries, Other Challenges

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Of course, the countries highlighted on our map are not the only ones challenging the global order. The Stanley Foundation chose these as strong examples of the change we see happening in the world, but the list is far from comprehensive or exhaustive. We tried to pick countries that were strong on more than just one of our dimensions of power—which include political, military, economic, cultural, and other factors.


But none of our “Rising Powers” appears to be advancing on all of the dimensions. And a compelling case can be made for the inclusion of a number of other states.  These include (but, again, are not limited to):

Australia, part of the broad Western alliance of nations, is considered one of the world's consistent “middle powers” making frequent contributions to international dialogues and UN peacekeeping. It has an affluent population and strong economy on par with many leading European nations. Australia is an active part of several regional and global multilateral groups including the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations (UN).

Indonesia has the fourth-largest population overall and the largest Muslim population in the world. The more than 17,000 islands in this nation straddle vital shipping routes linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Indonesia is an active participant in multilateral institutions including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), EAS, WTO, UN, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). In May 2008, Indonesia announced it was withdrawing from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Iran and the Persian civilization have long had deep regional influence, but the country has had a troubled relationship with the world since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran’s nuclear program has been a prominent point of tension, and the country is considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States. Iran is part of the UN, NAM, OIC, and OPEC.

Nigeria is an oil-rich country with the largest population in Africa. The country experienced years of military rule following the end of colonialism and now has a fractious, controversial democracy. Some analysts believe oil could power Nigeria’s economy past that of South Africa, but only if the government can tackle enormous social and infrastructure challenges. Nigeria is part of the UN, WTO, NAM, African Union (AU), and OPEC.

As the largest oil-exporting nation in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s global influence is well known. The country plays a central role in the Islamic world as home to Islam's most holy sites, Mecca and Medina, and host of the Hajj pilgrimage, which attracts two million Muslim faithful each year. Whether or not Saudi leaders, frequently criticized by Western human rights groups, can turn their oil riches into broader-based influence in the new global order is still an open question. Saudi Arabia is part of the UN, WTO, NAM, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), OIC, and OPEC.

Singapore is a major global financial center. It has been described as one of the richest and most business-friendly places in the world. This gives Singapore far more clout than its small geographic size would indicate as it participates in the Commonwealth of Nations, APEC forum, ASEAN, NAM, WTO, and UN.

The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) consists of seven states—including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. This oil-rich nation has been diligently working to expand its economic base and is regularly listed among the fastest-growing economies in the world. The UAE is part of the UN, WTO, NAM, GCC, OIC, and OPEC.

Rising oil prices have given petroleum-rich Venezuela, and President Hugo Chavez, an increasingly strong presence on the world stage. Chavez has used oil revenues to bolster domestic social programs and to challenge the current global order by creating the Bank of the South, a regional rival to the World Bank, and voicing aggressive opposition to US foreign policy. Venezuela is a member of the WTO, UN, NAM, Organization of American States, and OPEC.

Which countries do you think are challenging the global order? Please send us your list. All reader comments may be reprinted on this Web site and in related materials.

This page is part of Rising Powers: The New Global Reality, a project from the Stanley Foundation.

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