Disarray in global politics: a transition for smaller players

Disarray has been a major theme of global politics in 2023, Prof Robert Patman says.

The University of Otago foreign affairs specialist said the wars in Europe and the Middle East had challenged the rules based order on which countries like New Zealand depended.

"The [United Nations security council] veto has effectively stymied [the resolution of] two major global events — the Russian invasion of Ukraine . . . which has spilled over to this year, and the Gaza conflict," Prof Patman said.

"This year has been sobering for New Zealand . . . New Zealand’s worldview has been challenged."

At the same time, this disarray offered some hope, Prof Patman said.

"The good news is that we are going through a transition.

"We live in a world in which the number of problems that do not respect boundaries are proliferating.

"That gives smaller players like New Zealand, if they have the will and the agency, the opportunity to exert some influence."Professor Patman also spoke about the significance of what he believed were the three big events of 2023.

On climate change he said, "We’re hurtling towards an event that threatens all of us".

The Israel-Hamas war was "a significant landmark in the . . . decline of American influence".

American support for Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia has diminished, but he believes it will only be "short term fatigue" because "if Putin succeeds it will have much bigger implications".