The New New World Order
Daniel W. Drezner
From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007
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Summary: Controversies over the war in Iraq and U.S. unilateralism have overshadowed a more pragmatic and multilateral component of the Bush administration's grand strategy: its attempt to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy and international institutions in order to account for shifts in the global distribution of power and the emergence of states such as China and India. This unheralded move is well intentioned and well advised, and Washington should redouble its efforts.
Daniel W. Drezner is Associate Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of "All Politics Is Global."
RISING AND FALLING
Throughout the twentieth century, the list of the world's great powers was predictably short: the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, and northwestern Europe. The twenty-first century will be different. China and India are emerging as economic and political heavyweights: China holds over a trillion dollars in hard currency reserves, India's high-tech sector is growing by leaps and bounds, and both countries, already recognized nuclear powers, are developing blue-water navies. The National Intelligence Council, a U.S. government think tank, projects that by 2025, China and India will have the world's second- and fourth-largest economies, respectively. Such growth is opening the way for a multipolar era in world politics.
This tectonic shift will pose a challenge to the U.S.-dominated global institutions that have been in place since the 1940s. At the behest of Washington, these multilateral regimes have promoted trade liberalization, open capital markets, and nuclear nonproliferation, ensuring relative peace and prosperity for six decades -- and untold benefits for the United States. But unless rising powers such as China and India are incorporated into this framework, the future of these international regimes will be uncomfortably uncertain.
Given its performance over the last six years, one would not expect the Bush administration to handle this challenge terribly well. After all, its unilateralist impulses, on vivid display in the Iraq war, have become a lightning rod for criticism of U.S. foreign policy. But the Iraq controversy has overshadowed a more pragmatic and multilateral component of the Bush administration's grand strategy: Washington's attempt to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy and international institutions in order to account for shifts in the global distribution of power. The Bush administration has been reallocating the resources of the executive branch to focus on emerging powers. In an attempt to ensure that these countries buy into the core tenets of the U.S.-created world order, Washington has tried to bolster their profiles in forums ranging from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the World Health Organization, on issues as diverse as nuclear proliferation, monetary relations, and the environment. Because these efforts have focused more on so-called low politics than on the global war on terrorism, they have flown under the radar of many observers. But in fact, George W. Bush has revived George H. W. Bush's call for a "new world order" -- by creating, in effect, a new new world order.
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