Another thing that complicates the scenario of the “Rise of the Rest” or the birth of a “BRIC identity” is that many of the emerging powers are as much strategic rivals as they are tactical partners. Just yesterday, for instance, India successfully tested a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 3500 km. That’s a range that’s designed more for catching Peking’s attention than Islamabad’s. Similarly, India recently announced plans to reinforce and modernize its military presence along the Sino-Indian border. As much as trans-Atlantic relations can get bumpy from time to time, that’s one area where the West has an enormous headstart over the Rest.
The other, as I’ve mentioned before, is the problem of ethno-sectarian separatism. Europe is still dealing with some longterm fallout from the frozen conflicts of the immediate post-Cold War era. But the idea of a Western country having to field a special forces commando squad to keep the Olympic torch lit seems pretty farfetched. Unlike during the post-colonial period, from here on out the costs of these sorts of conflicts, both in repressive force applied and international standing lost, will be borne exclusively by emerging powers.