There is shock and incredulity following the victory of the ‘Leave’ vote in Britain. I will let my colleagues who follow closely the EU to pick up the threads of both this negotiation and the future of this supranational institution. There will be much analysis over this difficult exit and the reduction of the EU from 28 to 27, though it may well be that it will return to 28 if Scotland decides it unprepared to leave the EU.
But let’s turn to the implications of the British exit on larger global order questions. The vote to leave immediately brought to mind the phrase that adorns this post that my colleague at Brookings, Tom Wright used to describe Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The post from Brookings (June 3, 2016) was using Hilllary Clinton’s San Diego speech to examine Trump’s foreign policy ideas. As Tom concluded:
So he will double down. And as he does, he will reinforce every word of Clinton’s San Diego speech and further alienate those voters who may be skeptical of an activist foreign policy but do not want to run the experiment of deliberately burning the international order to the ground.
My colleagues John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have returned to offer a new and improved version of US foreign policy. In their recent piece “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior US Grand Strategy” they offer both a critique of current foreign policy, which they see as some variant of liberal hegemony and provide, according them a clear and superior alternative – ‘offshore balancing’:
There is a better way. By pursuing a strategy of “offshore balancing,” Washington would forgo ambitious efforts to remake other societies and concentrate on what really matters: preserving U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere and countering potential hegemons in Europe, Northeast Asia, and the Persian Gulf. Instead of policing the world, the United States would encourage other countries to take the lead in checking rising powers, intervening itself only when necessary.
It has been a long hiatus. Truth be told, I was planning to remain silent for an entire year. But I couldn’t resist coming back before then. As it turns out – just on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend for my American colleagues – and in the face of the announcement that Donald Trump had enough delegates to be nominated in Cleveland at the Republican Convention in July, I am back. The fact is too much is happening both in the world of global governance and also in the examination of global order ideas. So it’s time to end my silence.
So it would appear that the Obama Administration has crossed the finish line on the US-Iran nuclear deal or as it called, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The period of Congressional approval/disapproval – the 60-day period of congressional review – ends today. With the vote of disapproval eliminated, the US-Iran deal is secured. Of course ‘US approval’ says nothing about implementation, verification and surveillance. That will come next.
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
Gideon Rachman recently wrote a rather downbeat post in the FT entitled the “The West has Lost Intellectual Confidence”. He suggests in this opinion piece that he sees the ending of era – the time from the end of the Cold War to now. He is not the only opinionator that has suggested that we are ending a period of global order.
So back to the role of the Stanley Foundation (TSF) in analyzing multilateralism in today’s global order. I had the good fortune to connect with TSF’s President Keith Porter. And he was good enough to respond to my questions. Keith started out responding to my questions:
I think your questions, “How does the Foundation tackle the broader concert diplomacy aspects of global governance? How does the Foundation capture and comment on contemporary multilateralism?,” don’t get to the heart of our approach. The foundation recently completed a major strategic planning effort where we re-affirmed our belief that multilateral action is the only way to bring about fair, just, and lasting solutions to the problems facing the world today. However, we also acknowledged that the infrastructure of multilateral cooperation has changed over the years. Given the growing number of active multilateral venues and the stubborn refusal of states to adapt older institutions to the changing world order, this doesn’t seem like the time to advocate for a grand, new, master plan for universal global governance.
Today’s realities demand positive international cooperation. Shared global challenges require creative multilateral solutions. Annual world leader summits like the G-8 and G-20 are free from the traditional trappings of fixed institutions like the United Nations. These gatherings adapt more easily to shifts in power, influence and political alignment.
The above is from the current Stanley Foundation website. I have had the great pleasure of working with various individuals and experts from this serious and effective US foundation.
The Stanley Foundation (TSF) has been in the multilateral business for quite some time. As its website identifies, the Foundation began programming in 1960.
Well the debate, discussion, dialogue – call it what you will – among the international relations experts and pundits began with the assertion by Walter Russell Meade and others over the return of geopolitics. This debate has grown since with the rising tide of chaos in the international system – the Middle East – Syria, Iraq, now Gaza – the Ukraine, Afghanistan, the rising tensions in the South and East China Seas. It has become – especially for experts from the US – a full scale (re)examination of US leadership. As noted by Peter Baker in the NYT:
It’s a very tangled mess,” said Gary Samore, a former national security aide to Mr. Obama and now president of United Against Nuclear Iran, an advocacy group. “You name it, the world is aflame. Foreign policy is always complicated. We always have a mix of complicated interests. That’s not unusual. What’s unusual is there’s this outbreak of violence and instability everywhere. It makes it hard for governments to cope with that.