Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk introduces «Order from Chaos,» the new blog by the Foreign Policy Program experts at Brookings. Indyk details the many challenges that now threaten the post-Cold War international order—China’s rise, Russia aggression on Europe’s borders, the emergence of violent extremist like ISIS. Through the “Order from Chaos” blog, Foreign Policy’s experts will provide analyses and fresh policy approaches to the difficult issues that threaten global security, prosperity, and freedom in our world today.
| March 23, 2015 12:15pm
The post-Cold War liberal international order is in trouble. For a quarter century, the world has experienced an era of growing global interdependence and relative peace and prosperity, brought about largely through the leadership of the United States and in the absence of genuine geopolitical competition. Now, though, several fundamental challenges to that order have emerged: in Europe, Russia seeks to undo the post-Cold War settlement through aggression; in Asia, the rise of an assertive China is generating friction; and in the Middle East, the American-led order is collapsing.
This intensification of geopolitics has been accompanied by a return to competition between democracies and autocracies. China’s rise and Russia’s recovery (at least until recently) have generated a new model of “authoritarian capitalism” at a time when the global financial crisis put a dent in the credibility of the Western economic model and the disappointments and consequences of the “Arab Spring” have led many to question the value of promoting liberal democracy. Transnational and global threats also pose deepening challenges to the United States, though also to its geopolitical competitors. Climate change, pandemic disease, and radical Islamic extremism pose shared threats, though as yet common solutions have largely eluded the powers. The digital revolution holds out the promise of a leveled playing field and increased productivity, but its disruptive impact will be felt in every corner of the globe.
All this also comes amid relative weakness in the Western alliance, characterized by political gridlock in Washington, double or even triple-dip recession in Europe, and continuing stagnation in Japan. In Asia and Europe, crises have both strengthened and strained alliances; in the Middle East, those alliances are badly frayed.
All told, we appear to be at one of history’s pivotal junctures, and again, the response of the United States will be critical. For all the talk of America’s relative decline, the United States retains more capacity than any other power to impact the calculations and policies of others. But America’s competitors are too powerful and their visions too different to imagine that U.S. leadership alone is a sufficient ingredient to maintain the liberal, rules-based international order that now feels so threatened by rising chaos.
The Coming Anarchy: How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet is an influential article written by journalist Robert D. Kaplan, which was first published in the February 1994 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. It is considered to be one of the fundamental theses on the state of current world affairs in the post Cold War era, and is ranked on the same level. (Published on Mar 2, 2015)