Global Brief magazine, Spring/Summer 2013
This essay examines the prospects for small states in a more turbulent, competitive, and challenging global economic and political environment. It argues that, although small states do face particular challenges, the characteristics of many small states position them to perform well in the coming decades.
With growing competition between the US and China, and calls for tighter European integration, it is often said that the world is moving into an age of big powers. But this obscures as much as it reveals. The process of 100 years of political fragmentation, with an increasing number of smaller countries, will continue. Smaller countries are likely to be better able to navigate an increasingly complex, turbulent global environment. Although new regional and other groupings will emerge, the ongoing lowering of the decision-making centre of gravity will be a defining feature of the emerging global system (alongside the transfer of power from West to East). Decision-makers should not be seduced by scale.