The New World Order Is Dead

That is the (partial) title of a piece I wrote for Foreign Policy. Every so often I make this argument; it works better when the world seems to be crumbling around us. If the center holds, consider it a prediction. May be lurking behind a pay- or registration-wall.

The argument is that in the 1990s, it appeared that there was emerging a “new world order” characterized by (1) international tribunals (along with the Security Council), (2) human rights, (3) international criminal justice, and (4) free trade and foreign investment protection. This was a liberal order, which led to the question why non-liberal countries would comply with it. In the legal academy, all answers were suggested (“networks,” “internalization,” “naming and shaming” by NGOs, “fairness,” and so on) except the obvious one, which is U.S. power. Countries acquiesced in an order because they feared the consequences of dissent. Now that U.S. power is declining, all the pillars of the new order except trade are collapsing. Odd, too, how in retrospect all those scholars, acting entirely independently and in good faith, seem like the U.S. government’s in-house ideologists.