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After Liberal Hegemony: The Advent of a Multiplex World Order*

Abstract

While the West woke up to the threat to the liberal international order when Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, its decline was apparent even at the height of the Obama-Clinton era. What follows the end of the U.S.-dominated world order is not a return to multipolarity as many pundits assume. The twenty-first-century world—politically and culturally diverse but economically and institutionally interlinked—is vastly different from the multipolar world that existed prior to World War II. China and India are major powers now; and globalization will not end, but will take on a new form, driven more by the East than the West and more by South-South linkages than North-North ones. The system of global governance will fragment, with new actors and institutions chipping away at the old UN-based system. Liberal values and institutions will not disappear, but will have to coexist and enmesh with the ideas and institutions of others, especially those initiated by China. This “multiplex world” carries both risks and opportunities for managing international stability. Instead of bemoaning the passing of the old liberal order, the West should accept the new realities and search for new ways to ensure peace and stability in partnership with the rising powers.

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This essay is based on the second edition of the author's book The End of American World Order (forthcoming).

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Ethics & International Affairs
  • ISSN: 0892-6794
  • EISSN: 1747-7093
  • URL: /core/journals/ethics-and-international-affairs
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