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The United States’ Divide and the Future of the World Order

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Over the last year there has been an animated debate in the United States (US) over the meaning of the world order and the US’s role in it. This struggle for ideas has not left other countries unscathed. In India, the response to these American contestations has been a mix of astonishment and fear, and policymakers and analysts appear to be clasping at binaries rather than unpacking the forces at play. Yet, there are no easy binaries to make sense of this phase of history, when the dominant power is struggling to establish a legitimate consensus on the nature of its relationship with the rest of the world and, indeed, on how world politics itself should be regulated.

The debate revolves around competing claims to some fundamental questions. What were the central motivations and concerns that drove American policymakers to envisage and design a liberal order after 1945? Does this “liberal order” benefit the US and the rest of the world, or is there nostalgia for a world that never actually extended beyond a very small portion of the planet? And, is this order sustainable, that is, does the US possess the material capacity to uphold its traditional responsibilities and continue to supply public goods and open institutions?

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Updated On : 28th Sep, 2018

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