Background Note?

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Abstract:

International politics has fragmented, involving more diverse actors in myriad new sites. A new politics of ethnicity and nationalism is altering the conditions of both coexistence and cooperation. Interpreting these changes has become a matter of deep ideological and political contestation among intellectuals concerned with international law, organization, and security. The post-Cold War transformations of international affairs are hard to interpret. Foreign policy professionals $$ Illegible Word $$ when they sharply differentiate national culture and global governance or global economics and global politics.

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Headnote:

The Underlying Politics of Global Governance

Since the Cold War, internationalists have come to share a diagnosis of the changed conditions for statecraft. International politics has fragmented, involving more diverse actors in myriad new sites. Military issues have been tempered, if not replaced, by economic considerations, transforming the meaning of international security. A new politics of ethnicity and nationalism is altering the conditions of both coexistence and cooperation. Interpreting these changes has become a matter of deep ideological and political contestation among intellectuals concerned with international law, organization, and security. Unfortunately, a widespread tendency to disregard what seem to be background conditions and norms has influenced mainstream interpretations for the worse. Common but mistaken ideas-like the idea that international governance is separate from both the global market and from local culture, or is more a matter of public than of private law-sharply narrow the sense among foreign-policy professionals of what is possible and appropriate for foreign policy.

Although we know professional disciplines have blind spot-some emphasize public at the expense of private order, governance at the expense of culture, economy at the expense of society, law at the expense of politics-we hope these run-of-the-mill limitations could be corrected by aggressive interdisciplinarity. Unfortunately, blindness to the background can be maintained, even reinforced, in the face of interdisciplinary work. Specialists in all fields overestimate the impact of globalization on the capacity for governance because they share a sense that governance means the politics of public order, while a background private order builds itself naturally through the work of the economic market. As a result, these specialists underestimate the possibilities for political contestation within the domain of private and economic law. Foreign-policy intellectuals overestimate the military's power to intervene successfully while remaining neutral or disengaged from background local political and culture struggles. Specialists tend to overestimate the technocratic or apolitical nature of economic concerns, including the independence of economic development from background cultural, political, and institutional contexts. A shared sense that cultural background can be disentangled from governance leads specialists to overemphasize the exoticism of ethnic conflict as well as the cosmopolitan character of global governance. The result is a professional tendency to overlook opportunities for an inclusive global politics of identity for working constructively on the distributional conflicts among groups and individuals that cross borders.

Disaggregate Public Policy

No one was "present at the creation" of the post-Cold War world-it happened in too many places at once. The fragmentation of international political life was long underway Dozens of new states, many with economic and military power surpassing the old great powers, multitudes of splinter groups with access to weapons and the media, and myriad private actors had all begun to play a role in making foreign policy. Within states, the political class splintered as politics became a complex administrative and social process. …