23 March 2019   Leave a comment

An estimated one million people marched in London in support of a second referendum on Brexit. Moreover, a petition to revoke Article 50 which requires the Britain to leave the European Union has almost 4 million signatures. The crowds were upbeat but also highly critical of Prime Minister Teresa May (Slate has photos of some great signs–British humor is in a class by itself). It seems unlikely that May can continue as Prime Minister, but there does not seem to be a lot of enthusiasm for her possible replacement, Jeremy Corbyn. No matter who is leading the government, the path forward remains as opaque as ever.

Hans Maull has written an essay for the International Institute for Strategic Studies entitled “The Once and Future Liberal Order” which is both insightful and provocative. The essay gives a quick overview of what we mean when we talk about a “world order” and how the particular world order that we call “liberal” evolved. It then goes over the slow erosion of the liberal order since the end of the 20th century and the dynamics unleashed by its weakening.

“There has also been a turn to geopolitics and geo-economics, and a renewed emphasis on raw power in international relations. This began with the political disintegration and external interventions in Libya and Syria, and was exacerbated by the more assertive policies of China in the East and South China seas; by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine; and, most recently, by the war in Yemen. These developments imply a shift towards a more conflictual international system and a return to zero-sum logic among a number of important actors. For example, while open markets offer all participants opportunities to realise gains (although not necessarily equal ones), spheres of influence are exclusive. Any expansion of such a sphere will therefore come at the expense of others. Similarly, nationalist conceptions of sovereignty emphasise its indivisibility: anything less than complete sovereignty – which is, of course, a chimera – is anathema. This contrasts with a multilateralist conception of sovereignty, in which the shared exercise of sovereignty allows all participants to benefit.”

Maull also does a good job of pointing out the conflicting and shared US and Chinese interests in an evolving world order. The essay is long but well worth a close read.

Posted March 23, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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