multilateralism, rules, and their demise

FT columnist Philip Stephens has written an excellent column on the sad state of world affairs. Here are a few excerpts from it. Click on the link below to read the full column.

Sad to say, Donald Trump cannot be blamed for everything. ….

Communism’s demise promised, in a favourite phrase of my Chinese friends, a world of win, win. The revolutionary thought was that the selfish interests of rich and rising states could be accommodated if everyone played by the rules. ….

In the event, … Washington has seemed more determined to throw away the big idea faster than Beijing has been to challenge it. Wars of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq sapped America’s moral authority. The attempt to impose democracy at the point of a cruise missile undercut faith in political pluralism. The 2008 financial crash put paid to the consensus that liberal, open markets were a certain route to prosperity. ….

Mr Trump is picking up where others left off. If the west was careless in the defence of the rules-based system, the present occupant of the White House flatly repudiates it. Mr Trump lives in a world of winners and losers. He blames the postwar structures built by America and its allies for western weakness. He is allergic to multilateralism. “I do bilateral”, he said the other day. Everything in Trumpworld is zero sum.

Philip Stephens, “How the world swapped a big idea for a bad one“, Financial Times, 5 May 2018 (gated paywall).


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