A Leaderless World Order? New Alliances and New Cold Wars Are Both Possible as the Era of Superpowers Is over, Says Policy Scholar Ian Bremmer. the Next Few Decades of Geopolitics Will Be Messy

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Coalitions of nations, such as the G7 and G20, convene and attempt to orchestrate solutions to global problems, but each attempt comes up short. This is an indicator that the world's real situation is "G-Zero": No country or group of countries is leading, or even capable of leading, the world, argues Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, in Every Nation for Itself.

"Many countries are now strong enough to prevent the international community from taking action, but none has the political and economic muscle to remake the status quo. No one is driving the bus," he writes.

China, Japan, Europe, and the other global powers are each too weighted down with domestic troubles to exert strong leadership abroad, according to Bremmer. Even multinational global organizations, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are lacking. They were designed originally to entrench American and European leadership, but now the emerging nations are demanding greater say within them, which not only undercuts the founding nations' agendas, but also makes it more difficult for the organizations to approve clear plans of action. There are too many member states with differing interests.

Sanctions, for instance, will cease to be enforceable. Whatever rules a governing body such as the UN Security Council might impose upon a country, other countries will flout the rules, and there will not be a bloc of countries able to dissuade them.

Bremmer cautions leaders to accept that, in this geopolitical reality, no nation will be in control of events. Leaders everywhere must be agile, adaptable, and able to manage unexpected crises.

Individual nations may enforce order within their respective regions. Brazil might come to dominate Latin America, for example, and Saudi Arabia could be a force for political and economic stability in the Persian Gulf. However, there will no longer be any one or two world powers directing affairs across the globe, Bremmer forecasts.

Also, global trade frameworks will go by the wayside. Governments will move toward more economic protectionism--tariffs on imported goods, strict regulations on foreign companies that do business on their soil, etc.--to preserve domestic jobs and safeguard domestic producers. Most governments will be more inclined to enact exclusive trade agreements with one other country or regional bloc.

Nonetheless, it will be imperative for world leaders to cooperate to the greatest extent possible, says Bremmet The United States and its industrialized-world allies must act in concert not only with each other, but also with China, India, and the other developing powers, to achieve any measureable progress on common problems. …