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TheIllusionofGeopolitics

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Thursday,April17,2014
TheIllusionofGeopolitics
TheEnduringPoweroftheLiberalOrder
G.JohnIkenberry
G.JOHNIKENBERRYisAlbertG.MilbankProfessorofPoliticsandInternationalAffairs
atPrincetonUniversityandGeorgeEastmanVisitingProfessoratBalliolCollege,
UniversityofOxford.
WalterRussellMeadpaintsadisturbingportraitoftheUnitedStatesgeopolitical
predicament[1] .Asheseesit,anincreasinglyformidablecoalitionofilliberalpowers
China,Iran,andRussiaisdeterminedtoundothepostColdWarsettlementandthe
U.S.ledglobalorderthatstandsbehindit.AcrossEurasia,heargues,theseaggrieved
statesarebentonbuildingspheresofinfluencetothreatenthefoundationsofU.S.
leadershipandtheglobalorder.SotheUnitedStatesmustrethinkitsoptimism,including
itspostColdWarbeliefthatrisingnonWesternstatescanbepersuadedtojointheWest
andplaybyitsrules.ForMead,thetimehascometoconfrontthethreatsfromthese
increasinglydangerousgeopoliticalfoes.
ButMeadsalarmismisbasedonacolossalmisreadingofmodernpowerrealities.Itisa
misreadingofthelogicandcharacteroftheexistingworldorder,whichismorestableand
expansivethanMeaddepicts,leadinghimtooverestimatetheabilityoftheaxisof
weevilstoundermineit.AnditisamisreadingofChinaandRussia,whicharenotfull
scalerevisionistpowersbutparttimespoilersatbest,assuspiciousofeachotherasthey
areoftheoutsideworld.True,theylookforopportunitiestoresisttheUnitedStatesglobal
leadership,andrecently,asinthepast,theyhavepushedbackagainstit,particularly
whenconfrontedintheirownneighborhoods.Buteventheseconflictsarefueledmoreby
weaknesstheirleadersandregimesthanbystrength.Theyhavenoappealing
brand.Andwhenitcomestotheiroverridinginterests,Russiaand,especially,Chinaare
deeplyintegratedintotheworldeconomyanditsgoverninginstitutions.
MeadalsomischaracterizesthethrustofU.S.foreignpolicy.SincetheendoftheCold
War,heargues,theUnitedStateshasignoredgeopoliticalissuesinvolvingterritoryand
spheresofinfluenceandinsteadadoptedaPollyannaishemphasisonbuildingtheglobal
order.Butthisisafalsedichotomy.TheUnitedStatesdoesnotfocusonissuesofglobal
order,suchasarmscontrolandtrade,becauseitassumesthatgeopoliticalconflictis
goneforeveritundertakessucheffortspreciselybecauseitwantstomanagegreatpower
competition.Orderbuildingisnotpremisedontheendofgeopoliticsitisabouthowto
answerthebigquestionsofgeopolitics.
Indeed,theconstructionofaU.S.ledglobalorderdidnotbeginwiththeendoftheCold
WaritwontheColdWar.Inthenearly70yearssinceWorldWarII,Washingtonhas
undertakensustainedeffortstobuildafarflungsystemofmultilateralinstitutions,
alliances,tradeagreements,andpoliticalpartnerships.Thisprojecthashelpeddraw
countriesintotheUnitedStatesorbit.Ithashelpedstrengthenglobalnormsandrulesthat
undercutthelegitimacyofnineteenthcenturystylespheresofinfluence,bidsforregional
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domination,andterritorialgrabs.AndithasgiventheUnitedStatesthecapacities,
partnerships,andprinciplestoconfronttodaysgreatpowerspoilersandrevisionists,such
astheyare.Alliances,partnerships,multilateralism,democracythesearethetoolsof
U.S.leadership,andtheyarewinning,notlosing,thetwentyfirstcenturystrugglesover
geopoliticsandtheworldorder.
THEGENTLEGIANT
In1904,theEnglishgeographerHalfordMackinderwrotethatthegreatpowerthat
controlledtheheartlandofEurasiawouldcommandtheWorldIslandandthustheworld
itself.ForMead,Eurasiahasreturnedasthegreatprizeofgeopolitics.Acrossthefar
reachesofthissupercontinent,heargues,China,Iran,andRussiaareseekingto
establishtheirspheresofinfluenceandchallengeU.S.interests,slowlybutrelentlessly
attemptingtodominateEurasiaandtherebythreatentheUnitedStatesandtherestofthe
world.
Thisvisionmissesadeeperreality.Inmattersofgeopolitics(nottomention
demographics,politics,andideas),theUnitedStateshasadecisiveadvantageover
China,Iran,andRussia.AlthoughtheUnitedStateswillnodoubtcomedownfromthe
peakofhegemonythatitoccupiedduringtheunipolarera,itspowerisstillunrivaled.Its
wealthandtechnologicaladvantagesremainfaroutofthereachofChinaandRussia,to
saynothingofIran.Itsrecoveringeconomy,nowbolsteredbymassivenewnaturalgas
resources,allowsittomaintainaglobalmilitarypresenceandcrediblesecurity
commitments.
Indeed,Washingtonenjoysauniqueabilitytowinfriendsandinfluencestates.According
toastudyledbythepoliticalscientistBrettAshleyLeeds,theUnitedStatesboastsmilitary
partnershipswithmorethan60countries,whereasRussiacountseightformalalliesand
Chinahasjustone(NorthKorea).AsoneBritishdiplomattoldmeseveralyearsago,
Chinadoesntseemtodoalliances.ButtheUnitedStatesdoes,andtheypayadouble
dividend:notonlydoalliancesprovideaglobalplatformfortheprojectionofU.S.power,
buttheyalsodistributetheburdenofprovidingsecurity.Themilitarycapabilities
aggregatedinthisU.S.ledalliancesystemoutweighanythingChinaorRussiamight
generatefordecadestocome.
Thentherearethenuclearweapons.Thesearms,whichtheUnitedStates,China,and
Russiaallpossess(andIranisseeking),helptheUnitedStatesintwoways.First,thanks
tothelogicofmutualassureddestruction,theyradicallyreducethelikelihoodofgreat
powerwar.Suchupheavalshaveprovidedopportunitiesforpastgreatpowers,including
theUnitedStatesinWorldWarII,toentrenchtheirowninternationalorders.Theatomic
agehasrobbedChinaandRussiaofthisopportunity.Second,nuclearweaponsalso
makeChinaandRussiamoresecure,givingthemassurancethattheUnitedStateswill
neverinvade.Thatsagoodthing,becauseitreducesthelikelihoodthattheywillresortto
desperatemoves,bornofinsecurity,thatriskwarandunderminetheliberalorder.
GeographyreinforcestheUnitedStatesotheradvantages.Astheonlygreatpowernot
surroundedbyothergreatpowers,thecountryhasappearedlessthreateningtoother
statesandwasabletorisedramaticallyoverthecourseofthelastcenturywithout
triggeringawar.AftertheColdWar,whentheUnitedStateswastheworldssole
superpower,otherglobalpowers,oceansaway,didnotevenattempttobalanceagainstit.
Infact,theUnitedStatesgeographicpositionhasledothercountriestoworrymoreabout
abandonmentthandomination.AlliesinEurope,Asia,andtheMiddleEasthavesoughtto
drawtheUnitedStatesintoplayingagreaterroleintheirregions.Theresultiswhatthe
historianGeirLundestadhascalledanempirebyinvitation.
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TheUnitedStatesgeographicadvantageisonfulldisplayinAsia.Mostcountriesthere
seeChinaasagreaterpotentialdangerduetoitsproximity,ifnothingelsethanthe
UnitedStates.ExceptfortheUnitedStates,everymajorpowerintheworldlivesina
crowdedgeopoliticalneighborhoodwhereshiftsinpowerroutinelyprovoke
counterbalancingincludingbyoneanother.Chinaisdiscoveringthisdynamictodayas
surroundingstatesreacttoitsrisebymodernizingtheirmilitariesandreinforcingtheir
alliances.Russiahasknownitfordecades,andhasfaceditmostrecentlyinUkraine,
whichinrecentyearshasincreaseditsmilitaryspendingandsoughtclosertiestotheEU.
GeographicisolationhasalsogiventheUnitedStatesreasontochampionuniversal
principlesthatallowittoaccessvariousregionsoftheworld.Thecountryhaslong
promotedtheopendoorpolicyandtheprincipleofselfdeterminationandopposed
colonialismlessoutofasenseofidealismthanduetothepracticalrealitiesofkeeping
Europe,Asia,andtheMiddleEastopenfortradeanddiplomacy.Inthelate1930s,the
mainquestionfacingtheUnitedStateswashowlargeageopoliticalspace,orgrand
area,itwouldneedtoexistasagreatpowerinaworldofempires,regionalblocs,and
spheresofinfluence.WorldWarIImadetheanswerclear:thecountrysprosperityand
securitydependedonaccesstoeveryregion.Andintheensuingdecades,withsome
importantanddamagingexceptions,suchasVietnam,theUnitedStateshasembraced
postimperialprinciples.
Itwasduringthesepostwaryearsthatgeopoliticsandorderbuildingconverged.Aliberal
internationalframeworkwastheanswerthatstatesmensuchasDeanAcheson,George
Kennan,andGeorgeMarshallofferedtothechallengeofSovietexpansionism.The
systemtheybuiltstrengthenedandenrichedtheUnitedStatesanditsallies,tothe
detrimentofitsilliberalopponents.Italsostabilizedtheworldeconomyandestablished
mechanismsfortacklingglobalproblems.TheendoftheColdWarhasnotchangedthe
logicbehindthisproject.
Fortunately,theliberalprinciplesthatWashingtonhaspushedenjoynearuniversal
appeal,becausetheyhavetendedtobeagoodfitwiththemodernizingforcesof
economicgrowthandsocialadvancement.AsthehistorianCharlesMaierhasputit,the
UnitedStatessurfedthewaveoftwentiethcenturymodernization.Butsomehaveargued
thatthiscongruencebetweentheAmericanprojectandtheforcesofmodernityhas
weakenedinrecentyears.The2008financialcrisis,thethinkinggoes,markedaworld
historicalturningpoint,atwhichtheUnitedStateslostitsvanguardroleinfacilitating
economicadvancement.
Yetevenifthatweretrue,ithardlyfollowsthatChinaandRussiahavereplacedtheUnited
Statesasthestandardbearersoftheglobaleconomy.EvenMeaddoesnotarguethat
China,Iran,orRussiaofferstheworldanewmodelofmodernity.Iftheseilliberalpowers
reallydothreatenWashingtonandtherestoftheliberalcapitalistworld,thentheywill
needtofindandridethenextgreatwaveofmodernization.Theyareunlikelytodothat.
THERISEOFDEMOCRACY
MeadsvisionofacontestoverEurasiabetweentheUnitedStatesandChina,Iran,and
Russiamissesthemoreprofoundpowertransitionunderway:theincreasingascendancy
ofliberalcapitalistdemocracy.Tobesure,manyliberaldemocraciesarestrugglingatthe
momentwithsloweconomicgrowth,socialinequality,andpoliticalinstability.Butthe
spreadofliberaldemocracythroughouttheworld,beginninginthelate1970sand
acceleratingaftertheColdWar,hasdramaticallystrengthenedtheUnitedStatesposition
andtightenedthegeopoliticalcirclearoundChinaandRussia.

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Itseasytoforgethowrareliberaldemocracyoncewas.Untilthetwentiethcentury,itwas
confinedtotheWestandpartsofLatinAmerica.AfterWorldWarII,however,itbeganto
reachbeyondthoserealms,asnewlyindependentstatesestablishedselfrule.Duringthe
1950s,1960s,andearly1970s,militarycoupsandnewdictatorsputthebrakeson
democratictransitions.Butinthelate1970s,whatthepoliticalscientistSamuelHuntington
termedthethirdwaveofdemocratizationwashedoversouthernEurope,LatinAmerica,
andEastAsia.ThentheColdWarended,andacohortofformercommuniststatesin
easternEuropewerebroughtintothedemocraticfold.Bythelate1990s,60percentofall
countrieshadbecomedemocracies.
Althoughsomebackslidinghasoccurred,themoresignificanttrendhasbeenthe
emergenceofagroupofdemocraticmiddlepowers,includingAustralia,Brazil,India,
Indonesia,Mexico,SouthKorea,andTurkey.Theserisingdemocraciesareactingas
stakeholdersintheinternationalsystem:pushingformultilateralcooperation,seeking
greaterrightsandresponsibilities,andexercisinginfluencethroughpeacefulmeans.
Suchcountrieslendtheliberalworldordernewgeopoliticalheft.Asthepoliticalscientist
LarryDiamondhasnoted,ifArgentina,Brazil,India,Indonesia,SouthAfrica,andTurkey
regaintheireconomicfootingandstrengthentheirdemocraticrule,theG20,whichalso
includestheUnitedStatesandEuropeancountries,willhavebecomeastrongclubof
democracies,withonlyRussia,China,andSaudiArabiaholdingout.Theriseofaglobal
middleclassofdemocraticstateshasturnedChinaandRussiaintooutliersnot,as
Meadfears,legitimatecontestantsforgloballeadership.
Infact,thedemocraticupsurgehasbeendeeplyproblematicforbothcountries.Ineastern
Europe,formerSovietstatesandsatelliteshavegonedemocraticandjoinedtheWest.As
worrisomeasRussianPresidentVladimirPutinsmovesinCrimeahavebeen,theyreflect
Russiasgeopoliticalvulnerability,notitsstrength.Overthelasttwodecades,theWest
hascreptclosertoRussiasborders.In1999,theCzechRepublic,Hungary,andPoland
enteredNATO.Theywerejoinedin2004bysevenmoreformermembersoftheSoviet
bloc,andin2009,byAlbaniaandCroatia.Inthemeantime,sixformerSovietrepublics
haveheadeddownthepathtomembershipbyjoiningNATOsPartnershipforPeace
program.MeadmakesmuchofPutinsachievementsinGeorgia,Armenia,andCrimea.
YeteventhoughPutiniswinningsomesmallbattles,heislosingthewar.Russiaisnoton
therisetothecontrary,itisexperiencingoneofthegreatestgeopoliticalcontractionsof
anymajorpowerinthemodernera.
DemocracyisencirclingChina,too.Inthemid1980s,IndiaandJapanweretheonly
Asiandemocracies,butsincethen,Indonesia,Mongolia,thePhilippines,SouthKorea,
Taiwan,andThailandhavejoinedtheclub.Myanmar(alsocalledBurma)hasmade
cautiousstepstowardmultipartyrulestepsthathavecome,asChinahasnotfailedto
notice,inconjunctionwithwarmingrelationswiththeUnitedStates.Chinanowlivesina
decidedlydemocraticneighborhood.
ThesepoliticaltransformationshaveputChinaandRussiaonthedefensive.Considerthe
recentdevelopmentsinUkraine.Theeconomicandpoliticalcurrentsinmostofthe
countryareinexorablyflowingwestward,atrendthatterrifiesPutin.Hisonlyrecoursehas
beentostrongarmUkraineintoresistingtheEUandremaininginRussiasorbit.Although
hemaybeabletokeepCrimeaunderRussiancontrol,hisgripontherestofthecountryis
slipping.AstheEUdiplomatRobertCooperhasnoted,Putincantrytodelaythemoment
whenUkraineaffiliateswiththeEU,buthecantstopit.Indeed,Putinmightnotevenbe
abletoaccomplishthat,sincehisprovocativemovesmayserveonlytospeedUkraines
movetowardEurope.

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ChinafacesasimilarpredicamentinTaiwan.Chineseleaderssincerelybelievethat
TaiwanispartofChina,buttheTaiwanesedonot.Thedemocratictransitionontheisland
hasmadeitsinhabitantsclaimstonationhoodmoredeeplyfeltandlegitimate.A2011
surveyfoundthatiftheTaiwanesecouldbeassuredthatChinawouldnotattackTaiwan,
80percentofthemwouldsupportdeclaringindependence.LikeRussia,Chinawants
geopoliticalcontroloveritsneighborhood.Butthespreadofdemocracytoallcornersof
Asiahasmadeoldfashioneddominationtheonlywaytoachievethat,andthatoptionis
costlyandselfdefeating.
WhiletheriseofdemocraticstatesmakeslifemoredifficultforChinaandRussia,itmakes
theworldsaferfortheUnitedStates.ThosetwopowersmaycountasU.S.rivals,butthe
rivalrytakesplaceonaveryunevenplayingfield:theUnitedStateshasthemostfriends,
andthemostcapableones,too.Washingtonanditsalliesaccountfor75percentofglobal
militaryspending.DemocratizationhasputChinaandRussiainageopoliticalbox.
Iranisnotsurroundedbydemocracies,butitisthreatenedbyarestiveprodemocracy
movementathome.Moreimportant,IranistheweakestmemberofMeadsaxis,witha
muchsmallereconomyandmilitarythantheUnitedStatesandtheothergreatpowers.It
isalsothetargetofthestrongestinternationalsanctionsregimeeverassembled,withhelp
fromChinaandRussia.TheObamaadministrationsdiplomacywithIranmayormaynot
succeed,butitisnotclearwhatMeadwoulddodifferentlytopreventthecountryfrom
acquiringnuclearweapons.U.S.PresidentBarackObamasapproachhasthevirtueof
offeringTehranapathbywhichitcanmovefrombeingahostileregionalpowerto
becomingamoreconstructive,nonnuclearmemberoftheinternationalcommunitya
potentialgeopoliticalgamechangerthatMeadfailstoappreciate.
REVISIONISMREVISITED
NotonlydoesMeadunderestimatethestrengthoftheUnitedStatesandtheorderitbuilt
healsooverstatesthedegreetowhichChinaandRussiaareseekingtoresistboth.(Apart
fromitsnuclearambitions,Iranlookslikeastateengagedmoreinfutileprotestthanactual
resistance,soitshouldntbeconsideredanythingclosetoarevisionistpower.)Withouta
doubt,ChinaandRussiadesiregreaterregionalinfluence.Chinahasmadeaggressive
claimsovermaritimerightsandnearbycontestedislands,andithasembarkedonan
armsbuildup.PutinhasvisionsofreclaimingRussiasdominanceinitsnearabroad.
BothgreatpowersbristleatU.S.leadershipandresistitwhentheycan.
ButChinaandRussiaarenottruerevisionists.AsformerIsraeliForeignMinisterShlomo
BenAmihassaid,PutinsforeignpolicyismoreareflectionofhisresentmentofRussias
geopoliticalmarginalizationthanabattlecryfromarisingempire.China,ofcourse,isan
actualrisingpower,andthisdoesinvitedangerouscompetitionwithU.S.alliesinAsia.But
Chinaisnotcurrentlytryingtobreakthosealliancesoroverthrowthewidersystemof
regionalsecuritygovernanceembodiedintheAssociationofSoutheastAsianNationsand
theEastAsiaSummit.AndevenifChinaharborsambitionsofeventuallydoingso,U.S.
securitypartnershipsintheregionare,ifanything,gettingstronger,notweaker.Atmost,
ChinaandRussiaarespoilers.Theydonothavetheinterestsletalonetheideas,
capacities,oralliestoleadthemtoupendexistingglobalrulesandinstitutions.
Infact,althoughtheyresentthattheUnitedStatesstandsatthetopofthecurrent
geopoliticalsystem,theyembracetheunderlyinglogicofthatframework,andwithgood
reason.Opennessgivesthemaccesstotrade,investment,andtechnologyfromother
societies.Rulesgivethemtoolstoprotecttheirsovereigntyandinterests.Despite
controversiesoverthenewideaoftheresponsibilitytoprotect(whichhasbeenapplied
onlyselectively),thecurrentworldorderenshrinestheageoldnormsofstatesovereignty
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andnonintervention.ThoseWestphalianprinciplesremainthebedrockofworldpolitics
andChinaandRussiahavetiedtheirnationalintereststothem(despitePutinsdisturbing
irredentism).
Itshouldcomeasnosurprise,then,thatChinaandRussiahavebecomedeeply
integratedintotheexistinginternationalorder.Theyarebothpermanentmembersofthe
UNSecurityCouncil,withvetorights,andtheybothparticipateactivelyintheWorldTrade
Organization,theInternationalMonetaryFund,theWorldBank,andtheG20.Theyare
geopoliticalinsiders,sittingatallthehightablesofglobalgovernance.
China,despiteitsrapidascent,hasnoambitiousglobalagendaitremainsfixatedinward,
onpreservingpartyrule.SomeChineseintellectualsandpoliticalfigures,suchasYan
XuetongandZhuChenghu,dohaveawishlistofrevisionistgoals.TheyseetheWestern
systemasathreatandarewaitingforthedaywhenChinacanreorganizethe
internationalorder.Butthesevoicesdonotreachveryfarintothepoliticalelite.Indeed,
Chineseleadershavemovedawayfromtheirearliercallsforsweepingchange.In2007,
atitsCentralCommitteemeeting,theChineseCommunistPartyreplacedprevious
proposalsforanewinternationaleconomicorderwithcallsformoremodestreforms
centeringonfairnessandjustice.TheChinesescholarWangJisihasarguedthatthis
moveissubtlebutimportant,shiftingChinasorientationtowardthatofaglobalreformer.
ChinanowwantsalargerroleintheInternationalMonetaryFundandtheWorldBank,
greatervoiceinsuchforumsastheG20,andwiderglobaluseofitscurrency.Thatisnot
theagendaofacountrytryingtorevisetheeconomicorder.
ChinaandRussiaarealsomembersingoodstandingofthenuclearclub.Thecenterpiece
oftheColdWarsettlementbetweentheUnitedStatesandtheSovietUnion(andthen
Russia)wasasharedefforttolimitatomicweapons.AlthoughU.S.Russianrelationshave
sincesoured,thenuclearcomponentoftheirarrangementhasheld.In2010,Moscowand
WashingtonsignedtheNewSTARTtreaty,whichrequiresmutualreductionsinlongrange
nuclearweapons.
Beforethe1990s,Chinawasanuclearoutsider.Althoughithadamodestarsenal,itsaw
itselfasavoiceofthenonnucleardevelopingworldandcriticizedarmscontrol
agreementsandtestbans.Butinaremarkableshift,Chinahassincecometosupportthe
arrayofnuclearaccords,includingtheNuclearNonproliferationTreatyandthe
ComprehensiveNuclearTestBanTreaty.Ithasaffirmedanofirstusedoctrine,keptits
arsenalsmall,andtakenitsentirenuclearforceoffalert.Chinahasalsoplayedanactive
roleintheNuclearSecuritySummit,aninitiativeproposedbyObamain2009,andithas
joinedtheP5process,acollaborateefforttosafeguardnuclearweapons.
Acrossawiderangeofissues,ChinaandRussiaareactingmorelikeestablishedgreat
powersthanrevisionistones.Theyoftenchoosetoshunmultilateralism,butso,too,on
occasiondotheUnitedStatesandotherpowerfuldemocracies.(Beijinghasratifiedthe
UNConventionontheLawoftheSeaWashingtonhasnot.)AndChinaandRussiaare
usingglobalrulesandinstitutionstoadvancetheirowninterests.Theirstruggleswiththe
UnitedStatesrevolvearoundgainingvoicewithintheexistingorderandmanipulatingitto
suittheirneeds.Theywishtoenhancetheirpositionswithinthesystem,buttheyarenot
tryingtoreplaceit.
HERETOSTAY
Ultimately,evenifChinaandRussiadoattempttocontestthebasictermsofthecurrent
globalorder,theadventurewillbedauntingandselfdefeating.Thesepowersarentjust
upagainsttheUnitedStatestheywouldalsohavetocontendwiththemostglobally
organizedanddeeplyentrenchedordertheworldhaseverseen,onethatisdominatedby
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statesthatareliberal,capitalist,anddemocratic.ThisorderisbackedbyaU.S.led
networkofalliances,institutions,geopoliticalbargains,clientstates,anddemocratic
partnerships.Ithasproveddynamicandexpansive,easilyintegratingrisingstates,
beginningwithJapanandGermanyafterWorldWarII.Ithasshownacapacityforshared
leadership,asexemplifiedbysuchforumsastheG8andtheG20.Ithasallowedrising
nonWesterncountriestotradeandgrow,sharingthedividendsofmodernization.Ithas
accommodatedasurprisinglywidevarietyofpoliticalandeconomicmodelssocial
democratic(westernEurope),neoliberal(theUnitedKingdomandtheUnitedStates),and
statecapitalist(EastAsia).Theprosperityofnearlyeverycountryandthestabilityofits
governmentfundamentallydependsonthisorder.
Intheageofliberalorder,revisioniststrugglesareafoolserrand.Indeed,Chinaand
Russiaknowthis.Theydonothavegrandvisionsofanalternativeorder.Forthem,
internationalrelationsaremainlyaboutthesearchforcommerceandresources,the
protectionoftheirsovereignty,and,wherepossible,regionaldomination.Theyhave
shownnointerestinbuildingtheirownordersoreventakingfullresponsibilityforthe
currentoneandhaveofferednoalternativevisionsofglobaleconomicorpolitical
progress.Thatsacriticalshortcoming,sinceinternationalordersriseandfallnotsimply
withthepoweroftheleadingstatetheirsuccessalsohingesonwhethertheyareseenas
legitimateandwhethertheiractualoperationsolvesproblemsthatbothweakandpowerful
statescareabout.Inthestruggleforworldorder,ChinaandRussia(andcertainlyIran)are
simplynotinthegame.
Underthesecircumstances,theUnitedStatesshouldnotgiveupitseffortstostrengthen
theliberalorder.TheworldthatWashingtoninhabitstodayisoneitshouldwelcome.And
thegrandstrategyitshouldpursueistheoneithasfollowedfordecades:deepglobal
engagement.ItisastrategyinwhichtheUnitedStatestiesitselftotheregionsofthe
worldthroughtrade,alliances,multilateralinstitutions,anddiplomacy.Itisastrategyin
whichtheUnitedStatesestablishesleadershipnotsimplythroughtheexerciseofpower
butalsothroughsustainedeffortsatglobalproblemsolvingandrulemaking.Itcreateda
worldthatisfriendlytoAmericaninterests,anditismadefriendlybecause,asPresident
JohnF.Kennedyoncesaid,itisaworldwheretheweakaresafeandthestrongarejust.
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Links
[1]https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141211/walterrussellmead/thereturnofgeopolitics

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