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The Liberal World Order, under crisis?



Xi Jinping, the new leader of the ‘free world’

The results of the Brexit and the US Elections – combined with the rising tide of Nationalistic movements worldwide, have many pointing out that the concept of a “Liberal World Order” is under threat.

But is this the case? Is the primary idea of classical liberalism under threat?

I doubt it.

We are however, at a particular moment in history where a rising superpower challenges a pre-existing superpower. (USA v. China). How this new set of conflicts will play out is a question that will only be resolved gradually. Predictions at this point could be far off the mark at this point. But there is no doubt that there will be a conflict in the next 10 to 20 years.

Due to the impending nature of the conflict, the world order,dominated by the United States and its allies, established in the late 80s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be under threat. Alliances are changing, friend can turn foe and foe, friend. The fluid nature of World Politics at this stage is one reason for this thought.

Now what constitutes the Liberal Order?  On extension, one can claim that the Liberal World order was created as the  aftermath of World War II, with the West led by the United States, standing for “the ideas of democracy, freedom and Human rights”. But the West was more than willing to support authoritarian regimes where they opposed Communism and socialism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the eastern bloc of Europe became democratized, and democracy itself saw a resurgence world over.

But to be very clear, the liberal world order as we see it should not be romanticized – it was not some flowery era, under Clinton, Bush or Obama. (Bush already stands tarnished for Iraq and Gitmo). The use of drones reached a new high under Obama, and the frightening scope of the US Surveillance programmes were revealed. Under Clinton, Sanctions against Iraq killed half a million children.His Missteps in Somalia, Rwanda and Haiti also stand witness to that.

Overall, the liberal world order can, to some effect, be characterized as a World Order of Western hypocrisy.

But the Liberal Order is here to stay.

The increasing tide of Nationalistic movements is, to an extent, a reaction to Globalization and its effects. But one must not see all Nationalistic movements as similar in nature and wants. Some movements or regimes –  like in China, have an outward looking nationalism, intent on gaining more respect for China. They are not perverse to globalism and its effects. Chinese President Xi Jinping even actively rooted that China take over as the world leader, filling the vacuum possibly left by Trump’s America.

On the other hand, one issue that needs consideration is whether there will be a reverse-globalization, where countries increasingly look inward rather than outward? This is happening in the Western nations as they are heading towards an inevitable decline. The rising superpowers of China and India, meanwhile, are prodding towards becoming the primary promoters of globalization. Not only that, I believe that Globalization has seeped into the very existence of Human Civilization so much that it is impossible to separate it from us. (Inward looking countries are those which concentrate on domestic countries with minimal foreign policy involvement, while outward looking countries put foreign relations on a more elevated platform.)

Re: Trump and his foreign policy, there still seems to be no concrete idea as to what idea or goal he is perusing. “The Trump Doctrine” is as of right now, up in the air. It looks like Trump and his administration are dealing with the issues as they are coming up. In all honesty, it is also very hard to observe a Trump doctrine this early, but what unnerves me is the lack of a broad outline of foreign policy, other than pointless domestic posturing regarding various issues, with almost contradictory positions abroad.

This is a time for radical change in the World, but it seems rather far fetched to say that US will cede ground to PRC with respect to being World’s Policeman. China’s power projection is still developing. India’s Navy enjoys better power projection capabilities than China as of now. It is unlikely that the US Congress will allow ceding any ground in this respect to China, or anyone else for that matter.


India: a Superpower? 

These times will be testing on Indian foreign policy as well. India has a historic opportunity, as noted by many commentators, to seize this chance. If India is to achieve her potential, we need radical transformation in our society, politics, economy and more.

Back to the point of the topic of this article: More than the Liberal World Order being threatened, it is rather the Western Hegemony that is declining. The World order will change. Nothing is ever set in stone in International Politics, and it never has been. So when people tell me that “The Liberal World Order is in crisis”, allow me to be a  little smug. America and the West is in decline, not the World. Yes, you guys are still the economic powerhouses and developed economies, etc. But your society and political community  is in decline. We- the colonized, the torn,and the abused of the colonial era are rising.

That might not be in your best Interest. But it is in ours. The only forces that can stop us, are ourselves;no barriers but ourselves.

Let us move forward, together. 


Special Credits to Theyjusvini S. for the editing. 


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