The post-World War II liberal world order, defined by open markets, rules-based international cooperation and a benign American hegemony, has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to the world. Yet it is now under threat from nationalists and isolationists in Europe and the United States as well as revisionists in China, Iran and Russia.
During a visit to Sydney, French president Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to work with the largest democracies in the region — Australia, India, Japan and the United States — to “balance” Chinese power and protect “rule-based development” in Asia.
“It’s important… not to have any hegemony in the region,” he said.
Australia has eyed accommodation with China since Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership in 2017. But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking alongside Macron, insisted his country is still committed to preserving a rules-based order.
Donald Trump’s election caused many foreign-policy hands to worry that America could abandon its stewardship of the liberal world order: that constellation of alliances and institutions that has promoted peace and prosperity since World War II.
One year into Trump’s presidency, the results are mixed.
Nationalism may be down, but it’s not out, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The nationalist insurgency is both growing and metamorphosing. It is not just eating away at relations between countries on issues such as free trade; it is also eroding the institutions and norms that prevail within countries.
For almost a century, America’s strategic priority has been to prevent the emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia that could challenge it for world supremacy.
Halford Mackinder recognized as early as 1904 that a single power could lord over the continent if it controlled the entire Eurasian “Heartland”, stretching from Moscow to Tehran to Vladivostok.
Alfred Thayer Mahan and Nicholas Spykman argued it was rather control of the “Rimlands” on the edge of Eurasia that could tip the balance of power: Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.
Their ideas were not mutually exclusive. They both informed the United States’ successful policy of containment during the Cold War. To block Russian ambitions, America allied with democratic Europe, Turkey, the shah’s Iran and Japan. It exploited the Sino-Soviet split and armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to hasten the Soviet Union’s demise.