We May Live In Interesting Times
January 1, 2019 1:41 AM   Subscribe

The Curse famously quoted may be a fiction, but our times do seem more interesting than many of us are prepared for. The question Who Will Run The World is one explored by Foreign Affairs.
posted by CheapB (2 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Any idea how to circumvent the paywall? The primary link is a link to four other articles which look interesting, but it wants me to register just to read one, and then wants me to pay to read more than that.
posted by saysthis at 2:14 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've gone through the first three articles till now, with no problems.

They are an interesting read, though I am always frustrated with the typical establishment failure to take responsibility for Russia's total corruption after the Sovjet Union's break-down. The Russian failure to build a liberal society based on democratic principles and based on the rule of law didn't just happen out of thin air. It happened because a shitload of Reaganomic fantasy consultants went to Russia to "help" Jeltsin create the Libertarian/Conservative paradise they couldn't push through in the West.
There's probably also another thing about the ME dictatorships that were upheld by the US and USSR respectively as proxies during the cold who lost the ability to feed their people after the fall of the wall. But I know less about that.

Still, this does seem to me to be a good summation of what to do now (and why the rest of the West worries when the US is in disarray (from the third article, by Richard Haass):
Given these changes, resurrecting the old order will be impossible. It would also be insufficient, thanks to the emergence of new challenges. Once this is acknowledged, the long deterioration of the Concert of Europe should serve as a lesson and a warning.

For the United States to heed that warning would mean strengthening certain aspects of the old order and supplementing them with measures that account for changing power dynamics and new global problems. The United States would have to shore up arms control and nonproliferation agreements; strengthen its alliances in Europe and Asia; bolster weak states that cannot contend with terrorists, cartels, and gangs; and counter authoritarian powers’ interference in the democratic process. Yet it should not give up trying to integrate China and Russia into regional and global aspects of the order. Such efforts will necessarily involve a mix of compromise, incentives, and pushback. The judgment that attempts to integrate China and Russia have mostly failed should not be grounds for rejecting future efforts, as the course of the twenty-first century will in no small part reflect how those efforts fare.

The United States also needs to reach out to others to address problems of globalization, especially climate change, trade, and cyber-operations. These will require not resurrecting the old order but building a new one. Efforts to limit, and adapt to, climate change need to be more ambitious. The WTO must be amended to address the sorts of issues raised by China’s appropriation of technology, provision of subsidies to domestic firms, and use of nontariff barriers to trade. Rules of the road are needed to regulate cyberspace. Together, this is tantamount to a call for a modern-day concert. Such a call is ambitious but necessary.

The United States must show restraint and recapture a degree of respect in order to regain its reputation as a benign actor. This will require some sharp departures from the way U.S. foreign policy has been practiced in recent years: to start, no longer carelessly invading other countries and no longer weaponizing U.S. economic policy through the overuse of sanctions and tariffs. But more than anything else, the current reflexive opposition to multilateralism needs to be rethought. It is one thing for a world order to unravel slowly; it is quite another for the country that had a large hand in building it to take the lead in dismantling it.

All of this also requires that the United States get its own house in order—reducing government debt, rebuilding infrastructure, improving public education, investing more in the social safety net, adopting a smart immigration system that allows talented foreigners to come and stay, tackling political dysfunction by making it less difficult to vote, and undoing gerrymandering. The United States cannot effectively promote order abroad if it is divided at home, distracted by domestic problems, and lacking in resources.

The major alternatives to a modernized world order supported by the United States appear unlikely, unappealing, or both. A Chinese-led order, for example, would be an illiberal one, characterized by authoritarian domestic political systems and statist economies that place a premium on maintaining domestic stability. There would be a return to spheres of influence, with China attempting to dominate its region, likely resulting in clashes with other regional powers, such as India, Japan, and Vietnam, which would probably build up their conventional or even nuclear forces.

A new democratic, rules-based order fashioned and led by medium powers in Europe and Asia, as well as Canada, however attractive a concept, would simply lack the military capacity and domestic political will to get very far. A more likely alternative is a world with little order—a world of deeper disarray. Protectionism, nationalism, and populism would gain, and democracy would lose. Conflict within and across borders would become more common, and rivalry between great powers would increase. Cooperation on global challenges would be all but precluded. If this picture sounds familiar, that is because it increasingly corresponds to the world of today.
posted by mumimor at 5:36 AM on January 1, 2019 [8 favorites]

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