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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Daniel Drezner

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Daniel Drezner

Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 00:05:57 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

The New New World Order

Fri, 02 Mar 2007 00:05:57 -0600

Given its performance over the last six years, one would not expect the Bush administration to handle this challenge terribly well. After all, its unilateralist impulses, on vivid display in the Iraq war, have become a lightning rod for criticism of U.S. foreign policy. But the Iraq controversy has overshadowed a more pragmatic and multilateral component of the Bush administration's grand strategy: Washington's attempt to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy and international institutions in order to account for shifts in the global distribution of power. The Bush administration has been reallocating the resources of the executive branch to focus on emerging powers. In an attempt to ensure that these countries buy into the core tenets of the U.S.-created world order, Washington has tried to bolster their profiles in forums ranging from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the World Health Organization, on issues as diverse as nuclear proliferation, monetary relations, and the environment. Because these efforts have focused more on so-called low politics than on the global war on terrorism, they have flown under the radar of many observers. But in fact, George W. Bush has revived George H. W. Bush's call for a "new world order" -- by creating, in effect, a new new world order. This unheralded effort is well intentioned and well advised. It is, however, running into two major roadblocks. The first is that empowering countries on the rise means disempowering countries on the wane. Accordingly, some members of the European Union have been less than enthusiastic about aspects of the United States' strategy. To be sure, the EU has made its own bilateral accommodations and has been happy to cooperate with emerging countries in response to American unilateralism. But European states have been less willing to reduce their overrepresentation in multilateral institutions. The second problem, which is of the Bush administration's own making, stems from Washington's reputation for unilateralism. Because the U.S. government is viewed as having undercut many global governance structures in recent years, any effort by this administration to rewrite the rules of the global game is naturally seen as yet another attempt by Washington to escape the constraints of international law. A coalition of the skeptical, which includes states such as Argentina, Nigeria, and Pakistan, will make it difficult for the United States to engineer the orderly inclusion of India and China in the concert of great powers. Despite these difficulties, it is in the United States' interest to redouble its efforts. Growing anti-Americanism has revitalized groupings of states traditionally hostile to the United States, such as the Nonaligned Movement. To overcome such skepticism, the United States must be prepared to make real concessions. If China and India are not made to feel welcome inside existing international institutions, they might create new ones -- leaving the United States on the outside looking in. PLUS ÇA CHANGE When the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and NATO were created in the late 1940s, the United States was the undisputed hegemon of the Western world. These organizations reflected its dominance and its preferences and were designed to boost the power of the United States and its European allies. France and the United Kingdom had been great powers for centuries; in the 1950s the rules of the game still accorded them important perquisites. They were given permanent seats on the UN Security Council. It was agreed that the IMF's executive director would always be a European. And Europe was de facto granted a voice equal to that of the United States in the GATT. Today, the distribution of power in the world is very different. According to Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, by 2010, the annual growth in combined national income from Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- the so-called BRIC countries -- will be greater than that from the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and It[...]