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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession IV: The control of space and power
close this folderScience, technology, and politics in a changing world
close this folderJosť A. Silva Michelena
View the documentI. What kind of transformation?
View the documentII. The nature of the crisis
View the documentIII. World political trends
View the documentIV. The role of science and technology
View the documentV. A proposition
View the documentNotes

III. World political trends

However, neither of those two situations is intrinsically stable; particularly when seen within the context of the basic political dynamics of the worlds:

1. As is well known, since the mid-1950s and the nuclear stalemate or "mutual superiority" between the United States and the USSR, the locus of confrontation between the great powers has shifted from the equilibrium zones to the periphery.

2. From then on, any liberation or revolutionary war emerging in underdeveloped countries of the world was likely to be transformed into an indirect confrontation between the above-mentioned great powers, provided that massive logistic supplies could be provided by both of them. Since the US was able to do so around the world after 1945, the matter was reduced to the increasing capacity of other great powers to give logistic support to popular movements. Apparently, the Soviet Union today is capable of giving logistic support to revolutionary movements in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. These are the "hot zones" of the world today.

3. Simultaneously, multi-polarization of the world, both economic and political, increased, thus making it possible to establish new alliances and pacts in order to take better advantage of the new social division of labour on a world scale.

It is within this context that some recent events can be explained. For instance, the increasing inability of the United States to enforce the applicability of post-war pacts such as CENTO, SEATO, etc., and the emergence of organizations like OPEC, which gives the oil-producing countries the possibility of increasing their share of the world oil surplus - a phenomenon made possible by the strategic nature of oil, the will of OPEC states to back the organization, and, last but not least, the increase in the profits of transnational oil corporations. Moreover, the rift between China and the Soviet Union made possible the formation of cross-ideological alliances such as those that came into being in the Indo-Pakistani war and the Angolan revolution; also, the case of the intervention of Viet Nam in Cambodia revealed that conflicts between underdeveloped socialist countries can also happen. Along these lines it is not surprising that closer links are growing between the US and China. One can not even rule out new and formerly perhaps even more unthinkable ententes. So far, the most significant of these phenomena is the expanding capability of the USSR to give massive logistic support. In the last 30 years the Soviet Union has gone from supporting Korea to backing Angola and Eritrea with the help of the Cubans. Whether it will continue to expand towards Latin America is yet to be seen; so far the compromise reached during the missile crisis in Cuba seems to be still operative; however, one can hypothesize that it may not be so by the end of the century.

These trends lead to the conclusion that underdeveloped countries will continue to suffer political instability and that the probability of revolutionary successes in the hot zones is increasing.