Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Who Will Run the World?

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Who Will Run the World?

Article excerpt

Two decades ago, the U.S.sponsored liberal international order seemed to be going from strength to strength. Now, both order and sponsor are in crisis, and the future is up for grabs. There are many elements of the story-military and economic blunders, stagnation for the middle and lower classes in the developed world, a populist backlash against globalization, dizzying technological change-but a shifting balance of power may be the most important of all. That's why we've focused on how the troubled hegemon and the confident challenger are trying to write the story's next chapter.

We've chosen four takes, two on the United States and two on China. Collectively, they map a range of possibilities for world order in the coming years. Readers can decide which they find persuasive now, pending history's actual verdict later.

I kick things off by arguing that rumors of the liberal order's demise are greatly exaggerated. The order is the deeply entrenched outcome of a century of U.S. efforts to promote a better kind of international relations, and it has delivered more benefits than any alternative could. The next U.S. president is likely to try to revive it, with the support of U.S. allies. But whether Washington can muster domestic backing for a constructive foreign policy remains unclear.

Richard Haass sees the glass half empty and getting emptier. The order can't be revived; Washington must accept that fate and put its efforts into managing its deterioration. …

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