Relocating Middle Powers: Australia and Canada in a Changing World Order

By Andrew F. Cooper; Richard A. Higgott et al. | Go to book overview

approach towards the international economic order. American policy is also perceived as having little or no regard for the interests of others.


Conclusions

We have argued that the case studies of APEC and NAFTA suggest the appropriateness of a more complex conception of leadership for the changing global political and economic environment of the 1990s. In some cases, hegemonic leadership will continue to be asserted. Hegemonic leadership tends to be primarily structural in nature -- power being the central means with which 'to overcome the collective action problems that impede efforts to reach agreement on the terms of constitutional contracts in social settings of the sort exemplified by international society.' 88 And, indeed, this type of leadership was clearly evident in American attempts to establish the postwar Bretton Woods and GATT systems; it was this type of leadership that underlay the evolution of North American free trade in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Structural power thus properly occupies a central position in contemporary international theory. But theories of leadership derived solely from power will be far too determinist and will leave little or no room for policy intervention derived from technical innovation or political creativity.

We have also argued that successful cooperation in the international economic order in the 1990s, more than at any time in the post-1945 era, requires a different kind of leadership -- a leadership based on different attributes. Particularly in the absence of leadership from the major powers, organizational and entrepreneurial skills can be just as important as is the structural power usually associated with hegemony (as was seen in the case study of APEC).

Of course, entrepreneurial leadership is no substitute for major power accommodation, particularly across the Pacific, where there have been heightened tensions between the United States and Japan. 89 As Richard Leaver has noted, these tensions will have an impact on the broader system: 'If this relationship cannot be stabilized, then hopes of a broader pluralist solution to the problem of leadership of the world economy are simply wishful thinking.'90

To accept Leaver's argument is not, however, to suggest that the added dimensions of middle power innovation may not prove significant in mitigating the behaviour of the major players and in inducing a more cooperative economic regional environment. In the Asia-Pacific context, APEC clearly is not the beginning of a coalition to act as a

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