The ‘Mechanics of Global Order’ – A Different Kind of World Ordering

Congress of Vienna 1815

I was reminded recently of the enormous influence of the nonagenarian Henry Kissinger.  My colleague from Brazil, Oliver Stuenkel, author of the blog Post-Western World reviewed Henry Kissinger’s most recent book, World Order. His review of the 2014 book caused me to look back at my notes on this book and then to drag from my University library his 1994 book, Diplomacy. Obviously quite laconic when it came to titles – don’t forget On China – Kissinger has been the most detailed – and THE contemporary deep thinker – both as an academic and a diplomatic practitioner – when it comes to articulating the contemporary global order and its inner workings. Kissinger has been enormously influential since at least his  A World Restored (Kissinger’s Ph.D. thesis originally) published in 1954.  And of course, his diplomatic practice in the Nixon and Ford administrations remains central to US foreign policy behavior and critique.  Today, he is still consulted by many in Washington for his views on US foreign policy – see his and George Shultz’s review of the Iran nuclear deal –  and in particular US diplomacy toward China.

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A Good Week for Diplomacy


It is jarring.  It shouldn’t be, but given the strategic actions of the leading state, it is.  We all have gotten so used to the exercise US military muscle (or not), especially in the Middle East, it is shocking almost, to see diplomacy in the lead.    It takes some getting used to.  So the Iran deal has been concluded.  As Robin Wright described it in The New Yorker:

The agreement is the Obama Administration’s boldest foreign-policy initiative. It marks the first success in dealing with Iran since its 1979 revolution and the prolonged seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran.

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Time to Return to the Blogosphere


So it’s time to rejoin the blogosphere!

I apologize to all of you who might have looked to Rising BRICSAM for news and views on the BRICS and the other Influentials in the global order.  It was an extended absence, I know, but it was not time ill-spent.

Over the last months we completed the chapter on ‘concert diplomacy’ for the volume the Next Great War? The Roots of World I and the Risks of US-China Conflict – a work edited by Richard Rosecrance and Steve Miller from the Belfer Center at Harvard.   And then there was the paper for the ISA in New Orleans entitled, “The Challenges to Contemporary Global Order” that can be found at my ResearchGate site.  But the most critical work has been the effort by myself and many others from the Global Summitry Project at the Munk School, The Rotman School of Management and especially from Oxford University Press to get the lights on for the new OUP journal, Global Summitry: Politics, Economics and Law in International Governance. Hopefully the lights will be fully lit by the end of this month.  This latter project is a ‘real labor of love’.  Working with Don Brean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, we hope

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In a World of Order? Or is it Disorder?

Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers of G20 countries pose for a family picture near the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

My good colleague, Stewart Patrick at the Council of Foreign Relations, left us a “must-watch list” of global summits for 2015 before he disappeared for Christmas and the New Year.  Prepared for the slightly pretentious Council of Councils, Stewart nevertheless left us a sensible “go-to”  list.  This list for 2015 is valuable if only to suggest the range of global governance meetings in what most commentators have described as a growing sense of disorder in contemporary global order.

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South Africa’s Place in an Economic Global Order

South Africa Pretoria

Without question South Africa remains a vibrant, complicated and seemingly a growing troubled land.  My colleagues from the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) one of the premiere think tanks in South Africa and the University of Pretoria, particularly the Department of Political Science there brought together some of their South African colleagues with experts from a number of countries for a conference (December 4th-5th) titled “Alliances Beyond BRICS: South Africa’s Role in Global Economic Governance”.  Hats off to both Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, President of SAIIA and Maxi Schoeman Head of Political Science at the University of Pretoria and all their colleagues for a job well done.

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Building Global Order: A Good Day for Global Summitry


The headline says it all.  Just a quick look at the New York Times: “As Xi and Obama Stress Common Ground Stubborn Differences Persist“.  Or an earlier headline from the same paper: “U.S. and China Agree to Cut Tariffs, but Vie for Trade Blocs“.

Let’s be clear, however.  It’s been a good couple of days for global summitry.  As Dan Drezner headlined in his Washington Post blog post this morning: “Best APEC Summit Ever“.  As Dan suggested:

This year’s APEC summit that just wrapped up in Beijing is therefore highly unusual… because stuff got done. Seriously, a LOT of stuff got done.

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‘High Season’ for Global Summitry

APEC 2013



So we are about to enter high season in the  global summitry calendar.   First up will  be the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation scheduled for Yanqi Lake just outside Beijing proper on November 11 and 12, 2014.  This is in turn followed by the ASEAN Summit (technically not a global summit) where the day following is the global summit meeting called the East Asia Summit (EAS).  This Leaders Summit includes 18 Asia-Pacific leaders now that Russia and the United States have been added as of 2011.  The meeting this year will take place in Naypyidaw the capital city of Myanmar.  And with a final burst of energy Leaders will meet for the G20 Leaders Summit on November 14-15th in Brisbane this year.  It is a tight schedule designed to allow leaders to attend all three and then to return to their home countries.

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Struggling to Understand ‘Order’ in the International System


As Stewart Patrick reflected today at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) on President Obama’s forthcoming remarks to the UN General Assembly, the President will be called upon to: “… convince both foreign and domestic audiences that the world is not spinning out of control and that the United States is determined to keep it that way. At home and abroad, pessimism about the state of the world runs high.”  And then Patrick confirmed the bleak view that has come to dominate the analysis of global affairs:

Syria is collapsing, Iraq is fragmenting, and Libya is disintegrating. Authoritarian leaders are tightening their grips from Cairo to Moscow, while Palestinians and Israelis murder each other. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is running rampant over the debris.

Now Patrick is not with these remarks, by any sense out of the main stream, in his downbeat description of the course of global politics.

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Geez Globalization is Dying Too!



Well it certainly has not been ‘the best of times’ – particularly not if you’ve been reading the international pundits.  And indeed there is a lot of tension, strife and conflict in the international system whether in the Middle East, or in Eastern Europe or in Asia in the South China and East China Seas.  No matter where you look it seems you can find these nasty conflicts.

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Is this Really the Demise of ‘Liberal Internationalism’

Obama News Conference

For liberal internationalists, this is a bitter pill to swallow—or even to accept. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” Secretary of State John Kerry fulminated on CBS’s Face the Nation back in March. Ah, but you do, if you happen to have a mindset more in keeping with Otto von Bismarck than Woodrow Wilson (to say nothing of Barack Obama).

This is how my good colleague, Stewart Patrick, expressed his outrage – or at least his distaste – the other day at the admittedly aggressive and deceitful behavior by everyone’s favorite bad guy right now – Vladimir Putin.  As Patrick describes Russia’s actions in his recent blog post “Russia Assaults Ukraine—and the Liberal World Order”:

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