How to make a world safe for democracy



In the short term, the new coronavirus (and the resulting economic and social wreckage) will accelerate the fragmentation and breakdown of global order, hastening the descent into nationalism, great-power rivalry, and strategic decoupling, argues Princeton University’s G. John Ikenberry, the author of the forthcoming book A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order.

But the pandemic also offers the United States an opportunity to reverse course and opt for a different path: a last-chance effort to reclaim the two-centuries-old liberal international project of building an order that is open, multilateral, and anchored in a coalition of leading liberal democracies, he writes for Foreign Affairs:

To renew the spirit of liberal internationalism, its proponents should return to its core aim: creating an environment in which liberal democracies can cooperate for mutual gain, manage their shared vulnerabilities, and protect their way of life. In this system, rules and institutions facilitate cooperation among states. Properly regulated trade benefits all parties. Liberal democracies, in particular, have an incentive to work together—not only because their shared values reinforce trust but also because their status as open societies in an open system makes them more vulnerable to transnational threats. Gaining the benefits of interdependence while guarding against its dangers requires collective action.

The United States and other liberal democracies need to reconstitute themselves as a more coherent and functional coalition, Ikenberry contends. The next U.S. president should call a gathering of the world’s liberal democracies, and in the spirit of the Atlantic Charter, these states should issue their own joint statement, outlining broad principles for strengthening liberal democracy and reforming global governance institutions. RTWT

His proposals echo recent proposals to turn the G-7 into a D-10 steering committee of democracies to combat resurgent autocrats and rebuild a global order based on liberal principles.

Another leading commentator – NED board member William J. Burns –  is also advocating reinvention of the liberal order’s international architecture……

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