Time to Return to the Blogosphere

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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

we are creating a journal that will extend beyond the academic word to draw in policy types and that their research and writing collectively will take a hard look at how the global order is being (mis)managed.  The global order is far more complex and tense than it has been in decades.  We hope through the Journal with its articles, podcasts and videos from academics, media and policy folk, and indeed officials past and present to cast a light on the workings of the contemporary international system.  Obviously you are the ultimate judge of whether we achieve any success at all.

As an opening riff on the question of global order, I turn to the recently concluded fifth annual Princeton Workshop.  Our partners at the Council of Foreign Relations, most particularly Stewart Patrick and his much appreciated current side-kick Naomi Egel (the others were our good colleagues at the Stanley Foundation (TSF), the President Keith Porter and the Director of Policy Programing, Jennifer Smyser and of course our main Princeton dude, John Ikenberry, the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs) took the lead in preparing the 5th Report of the Princeton Workshop and then highlighting some of conclusions in a blog post at the Internationalist heard in the two days of discussion and discourse at Princeton.

So what did we learn?  What are the big questions that experts are grappling with in global summitry and global governance as they seek to understand the state of the global order.  This year’s Princeton’s Workshop was titled: “Order and Disorder in Today’s Global Order”.  We developed a series of panels to examine the critical issues. The panels included:

      • Has geopolitics ended global governance?
      • The world order and disorder – global economic governance
      • Is liberal internationalism doomed?  The counter-hegemonic internationalism
      • Geopolitics in Asia
      • Can Paris bring the world together? COP21 – do we need it?
      • Order and disorder – the rise of transnational threats

At the 30,000 foot level this is what the partners concluded:

      • Geopolitics has not doomed global governance
      • There appears to be no viable alternative to this point to today’s liberal international world order
      • The United States is both the a provider and disruptor of order; and
      • The fragmentation of global governance can both strengthen and weaken existing global governance institutions.

This then forms the basis of some rather large questions that I will return to from time to time as I work through the challenges in the global order here at Rising BRICSAM.  These questions will include:

  • The state of global governance in a world of rising geopolitical tensions.  A great deal of attention has been given over to to the Putin era and Russia’s aggression in the Crimea and its support for rebel efforts in the eastern Ukraine.  These efforts have led to the suspension of Russia from the G8 and as a result we are back to a G7 only. But the Russians remain critical to collaborative efforts in the G20 or in the P5 + 1 negotiations with Iran, and a host of other settings. This is even more the case with China.  The growing ‘assertiveness’ of China especially in the South China Sea has received much attention and many commentators find it easy to group the two powers as in the same ‘geopolitical boat’.  From my perspective the symmetry fails to reflect the state of relations with these two.  More broadly of course as Egel suggests “The main takeaway: international cooperation may be taking new forms, but it’s not going anywhere.” And as she ends:

Geopolitics will always be a global challenge and can make international cooperation, particularly in the security realm, difficult. But understanding international cooperation only through a lens of great power competition overlooks how both nonstate actors (such as civil society and private businesses) and substate actors (such as cities and provinces) are opening new doors for possible forms of global governance. Cooperation continues to thrive—just with less fanfare.

  • The possible end of US hegemony.  This question of course ties to the earlier geopolitical examination.  Much has been made of this Administration’s unwillingness to get more deeply engaged in the chaos of the Middle East especially in Syria.  Indeed the violence there is in part laid at the US doorstep for its inaction. Implicitly the message, especially in the Washington beltway  is if the US doesn’t take the lead then no one will.  In other words it is all about US leadership. Beyond this US declaration of leadership is the wider question – if not hegemony is there something else.  The obvious question: is there the possibility for multilateral collaboration.  Multilateralism has been particularly difficult to identify in actual international governance.  And it is even more difficult to describe the operational mechanics of multilateral cooperation in contemporary international relations.  For many it ends up being: the US takes the lead and some others follow – in other words ‘coalitions of the willing’. But I am of the view this is simply not an adequate expression of multilateralism. But we will see.
  • Then of course is the evident and central question of Rising BRICSAM – what is the role of the rising powers?  Is it a ‘tear down this wall’ kind of approach by the large emerging market powers especially China, India and Brazil.  And if the emergence of the BRICS, not to mention some other emerging powers, is to oppose and ultimately replace liberal internationalism. Then, with what.
  • Finally, there is a growing concern to describe the actors in international governance – what I call the ‘actors and their arrangements”.  It is evident there is a much wider set of actors in today’s global governance world – IOs, non-state actors, networks of states and non-states, private actors and more.  This is not your mother’s global order.  But who do we need to pay attention to over the challenges to international order whether, climate change, or global financial reform, global health care, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, immigration and global food security.  It is a complex world order and we can’t just pay attention to states if we have any hope of understanding its dynamics.

Image Credit: munkschool.utoronto.ca

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