The Future of the Liberal World Order

This is a downloadable book produced by Foreign Affairs, available for free to its subscribers.

It also has an online article here, that gives more historical depth.

Here are quotes from the book:

In the 1940s, as they suffered through yet another round of destruction and turmoil, policymakers in Washington and other major Western capitals finally decided that enough was enough. They recognized that the horrors of the first half of the twentieth century had emerged because their countries had hunkered down in the face of economic and geopolitical crisis, passing the buck rather than fighting together against their common enemies. So they swore not to repeat their mistakes and designed a postwar order based on mutually beneficial cooperation.

The new administration in Washington takes a different view, of course. President Donald Trump never mentions the order and seems not to understand what it is or why it is a good thing. He appears to see the world in zero-sum terms—international politics as a Hobbesian war of all against all in which there are only deals, not relationships, and in which only relative gains matter. He combines this, moreover, with an acute sense of grievance—a conviction that everybody is winning at the United States’ expense. “Every country takes advantage of us,” he says, and notes that he intends to reverse the process. No U.S. leader has talked this way in several generations, and most responsible officials in most countries, including the United States, are flummoxed—for they understand that if the White House actually tried to turn its more extreme ideas into policy, the entire system on which global security, stability, and prosperity is based would collapse.

This is a huge book, covering everything since WWII. The Liberal World Order has some huge faults, it admits – but they can be fixed.

Underneath all this, however is something even more ominous – people everywhere have become destructive, instead of constructive. That is why they elected people like Trump.

I can think of many reasons for this (they may be reacting to painful experienced in their past – or being destructive is much easier than being constructive) but they hardly matter.

We have to realize that this is the way it is.


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