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Topics / Emerging Global Order

Dispatches from Sochi: The world order ... where is it heading? (Quo Vadis), Part 2

The vice president of Carnegie Corporation's International Program reports from the 13th meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, Sochi, Russia

Following the American, an Indian panelist suggested that other factors will also shape the world and great power competition. These include: the coming backlash to globalization; technological change and disruption attendant to a fourth industrial revolution (including the emergence of artificial intelligence); and a populist revolt in politics—an unrest among the masses as they become increasingly able and willing to challenge leadership.

Reflecting on what had been said before, the Indian panelist said that competition will not be limited to the three great powers. Many elements of competition will emerge within Eurasia. Regional problems and competition will loom large. Restraint should be the key tool in managing competition. Those who chart the global order, as well as those who are defined by it, must exercise restraint and make effective decisions in order to limit conflicts.

The last participant was an Australian, who stressed that the world is grappling in the dark due to an explosion of uncertainties. What are the certainties? Russia is back as a geopolitical power. China is rising as a geopolitical and economic superpower. The U.S. remains a global geopolitical and economic superpower. The EU is in a phase of transition.

What are the key uncertainties? The current model of world order does not fully reflect the dynamic evolution we are seeing on the international stage. There are crises of legitimacy and an inability of international institutions to respond effectively to problems. Much of this dysfunction is due to the emerging competition between the three great powers.

The Australian speaker reflected that the global order is comprised of three great powers, 190 other states, and a web of institutions that tie them together. All are players.

He also stressed that, historically, global disorder had far outweighed the periods of global order, and that the latter is a relatively new state that emerged from World War II. If we do away with the post-war global order, the real question is what to replace it with. The Australian panelist ended by saying that building on existing institutions is the key to future stability.

After the panelists presented their views, the Chinese participant offered a response: China has no interest in playing the role of global hegemon as the U.S. has. The notion of any single country leading or directing the world is an outdated notion, incompatible with today's international environment.