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The Future of the Liberal World Order


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Title: The Future of the Liberal World Order

  • The Future of the Liberal World

  • Princeton University
  • Foreign Affairs
  • May 2011

  • Presented by Sajad Bahrami ,Guilan University
    ,Iran .

  • Fall

John Ikenberry
  • Introduction

International order has risen and fallen. One
of the great dramas of world politics over the
last hundred years has been the rise of American
liberal hegemonic order . At its core, it was a
hierarchical order with liberal characteristics.
America played the leading role in the provision
of rule and stability in this order. Currently
economic growth in countries like China and
India has created new centers of global power.
these and other developments have led to profound
questions about the American-centered nature of
the old order.
The future of international order,less American
or less liberal ?
  • As the United States' relative power declines,
    will the open and rule-based liberal
    international order start to erode?
  • The question that John poses is whether we are
    witnessing  just the decline of the United States
    or we are also witnessing the decline of the
    liberal world order . If the latter is true then
    the global order will not only look less American
    but less liberal. As the newly emerging states
    become more central to the world order, they will
    bring a more illiberal less open, less
    rules-based and less democratic world order.

Some anxious observers argue that it wnot just
less American but also less liberal

  • The panicked narrative
  • The fact that today's rising states are
    mostly large non-Western developing countries
    gives force to this narrative.
  •  Liberal International order could give way to a
    more fragmented system of blocs, spheres of
    influence, mercantilist networks, and regional
  • Brazil, China, India, and other fast-emerging
    states have a different set of cultural,
    political, and economic experiences, and they do
    not share the concerns of the advanced capitalist
    societies they see the world through their
    anti-imperial and the colonial pasts.
  • The recent global economic crisis has also
    bolstered this narrative of liberal international
    decline. the crisis has tarnished the American
    model of liberal capitalism and raised new doubts
    about the ability of the United States to act as
    the global economic leader.

Ikenberry argue that it will be less American but
more liberal

  • The panicked narrative misses a deeper
  •  Although the United States' position in the
    global system is changing, the liberal
    international order is alive and well. 
  • The struggle over international order today
    is not about fundamental principles. 
  • China and other emerging great powers do not
    want to contest the basic rules and principles of
    the liberal international order.
  • China and the other emerging powers do not face
    simply an American-led order or a Western
    system. They face abroader international order
    that is highly developed, expansive, integrated
    and deeply rooted in the societies and economies
    of both advanced capitalist states and developing
  • Today's power transition represents not the
    defeat of the liberal order but its ultimate
    ascendance. Brazil, China, and India have all
    become more prosperous and capable by operating
    inside the existing international order.
  • Rising states have deep interests in an open and
    rule-based system that provides members with
    tools for economic and political advancement.
  • There is no competing global organizing logic
    to liberal internationalism
  • "Beijing model"--would presumably be organized
    around exclusive blocs, spheres of influence, and
    mercantilist networks. on a global scale, such a
    system would not advance the interests of any of
    the major states, including China. The Beijing
    model only works when one or a few states
    opportunistically exploit an open system of
    markets. But if everyone does, it is no longer an
    open system but a fragmented, mercantilist, and
    protectionist complex--and everyone suffers.

Creation of current international liberal order,
Tow projects Westphalian project and
Anglo-American project .

  • Westphalian project
  • On is the creation and expansion of the modern
    state system, a project dating back to the Peace
    of Westphalia .
  • the project has promulgated rules and principles
    associated with state sovereignty and norms of
    great-power conducted.
  • At the heart of the Westphalian project is the
    notion of state sovereignty and great-power
  • The original principles of the Westphalian
    system--sovereignty, territorial integrity, and
    nonintervention--reflected an emerging consensus
    that states were the rightful political units for
    the establishment of legitimate rule. Founded in
    western Europe, the Westphalian system has
    expanded outward to encompass the entire globe. 
  • The Westphalian project has focused on solving
    the "realist" problems of creating stable and
    cooperative interstate relations under conditions
    of anarchy.

The other project is the construction of the
liberal order, which over the last two centuries
was led by the United Kingdom and the United
States and which in the twentieth century was
aided by the rise of liberal democratic states.
  • In the nineteenth century, liberal
    internationalism was manifest in the United
    Kingdom's championing of free trade and the
    freedom of the seas, but it was limited and
    coexisted with imperialism and colonialism.
  •  In the twentieth century, the United States
    advanced the liberal order in several
    phases. After World War I, Wilson and other
    liberals pushed for an international order
    organized around a global collective-security
    body, the League of Nations, .the Wilsonian
    worldview in the interwar period of closed
    economic systems and imperial blocs, this
    experiment in liberal order collapsed.
  • After World War II, President Franklin
    Roosevelt's administration tried to construct a
    liberal order again, drawing lessons from
    Wilson's failure and incorporating ideas from the
    New Deal, American architects of the postwar
    order also advanced more ambitious ideas about
    economic and political cooperation, which were
    embodied in the Breton Woods institutions. This
    vision was originally global in spirit and scope,
    but it evolved into a more American-led and
    Western-centered system as a result of the
    weakness of postwar Europe and rising tensions
    with the Soviet Union.
  •  As the Cold War unfolded, the United States took
    command of the system, adopting new commitments
    and functional roles in both security and
    economics. Its own economic and political system
    became, in effect, the central component of the
    larger liberal hegemonic order.
  •  This order currently challenged by rising powers
    but it have capability and capacity for over
    coming this challenges.

Ikenberrys propose Today is the best time for
update the liberal international order for a new
  • Now, as this hegemonic organization of the
    liberal international order starts to change, the
    hierarchical aspects are fading while the liberal
    aspects persist.
  • The hierarchical aspects of international
    liberal order should be updated .
  • The rising powers challenges can be
    managed by liberal advanced states.
  • Today is the best time for the democratic
    partners to update the liberal order for a new
  • So even as China and other rising states try to
    contest U.S. leadership--and there is indeed a
    struggle over the rights and responsibilities of
    the leading states within the system--the deeper
    international order remains intact. 
  • Rising powers are finding incentives and
    opportunities to integrate into this order, doing
    so to advance their own interests. 
  • For these states, the road to modernity runs
    through the existing international order.


  • more explorations and
  • On the classic study of world order and
    international order see
  • Hedly Bull, The Anarchical Society A Study of
    Order in World Politics (London Macmillan, 1977)
  • On anticipations of the end of American
    dominance, see
  • Charles Kupchan, he End of the American Era U.S.
    Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the
    Twenty-First Century (New york Knopf, 2003).
  • Fareed Zakaria, he Post-American World (New York
    Norton, 2009).
  • On the politics and ideas of order building after
    major wars, see
  • G. John Ikenberry, Ater Victory Institutions,
    Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order
    after Major War (Prince-ton, NJ Princeton
    University Press, 2001)
  • Kalevi J. Holsti, Peace and War Armed Conflicts
    and International Orders, 16481989 (New York
    Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • For explorations of the rise and spread of
    Anglo-American liberal internationalism, see
  • Mark R. Brawley, Liberal Leadership Great Powers
    and their Challengers in Peace and War
  • (Ithaca, Ny Cornell University Press, 1993)
  • Tony Smith, Americas Mission he United States
    and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the
    Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ
    PrincetonUniversity Press, 1994)
  • Michael Mandelbaum, the Ideas that Conquered the
    World Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the
    Twenty-irst Century (New york Public Afairs,
  • Wal-ter Russell Mead, God and Gold Britain,
    America, and the Making of the Modern World (New
    york Knopf, 2007)
  • David Ekbladh, he Great American Mission
    Modernization and the Construction of an
    American World Order (Princeton, NJ Princeton
    University Press, 2010).
  • Ferguson, Empire the Rise and Demise of the
    British World Order and the Les-
  • sons for Global Power (New York Basic Books,
  • G. John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan The
    Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the
    American World Order (Princeton Studies in
    International History and Politics 2011).