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The future of the global liberal system: what’s next?

Political analysts and experts of international relations have always fostered a vivid debate on balance of power and the need for a solid global governance. This debate is even more necessary today following the regional and international crisis of the last decade. From this perspective, it could be very interesting to focus on the discussion about the logic, rules and institutions of the liberal system in order to analyze its status quo and all potential future developments. 

The current international liberal system has been progressively set up after World War II. Thanks to the U.S. leadership, it has been the protagonist of the history of the past 70 years. Over the last ten years, experts of international relations have emphasized the need to consider a possible collapse of this liberal order and all its consequences throughout the world.

One of the main experts of the global liberal system, Jonh Ikenberry, Princeton University (Source Princeton University), in his book “Liberal Leviathan:The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order” describes his theory about the future of the current liberal order, which is characterized by U.S. weaknesses. John Ikenberry does not deny the existence of a crisis of the international liberal system due to a redistribution of balance of power. Ikenberry describes the decline of the United States of America as “inevitable” following the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation. However, despite this huge shift in the balance of power between two opposite pole, Ikenberry states that the international liberal order will not fall apart. The Professor affirms that whatever happens in the next 20 years, we will witness a global democratic revolution. The idea of a liberal, integrated system will not be called into question despite the decline of the United States of America. The global liberal order is not just “American”. Over the last 70 years, it has become deeply rooted and institutionalized. Consequently, it will survive with or without the U.S. leadership.

It could be difficult to back Ikenberry’s analysis. Latest international news proves exactly the contrary. Both endogenous threats (see the Crimea War and Brexit) and the external menaces (see the Daesh) have proved that the current liberal order has not the effective means and institutions to counter disruptive phenomena. However, Ikenberry’s theory is backed by international academia. The Professor’s words could be considered as a warning to focus on the strength, the solidity and the efficacy of the international liberal system, while stressing the need to reshape it with high integration rates, pluralism and shared leadership.   

Roberto Diacetti

Roberto Diacetti - The future of the global liberal system: what���s next