f_0018631_15955 - In Defense of a Concert of Liberal...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations In Defense of a Concert of Liberal Democracies by Robert S. Singh A mong the many areas of academic disagreement about US foreign policy at the end of the Bush years, one notable source of relative consensus exists—democracy promotion will assume a very modest part of the Obama Administration’s approach to world affairs. Even during the comparatively benign years of the Clinton presidency, opinion surveys consistently demonstrated that democracy promotion was a very low priority among the American public, and only marginally more important to foreign policy elites. Now, amidst grave financial crisis and huge economic instability, liberal democracies are facing the imperatives of securing energy independence and combating climate change. Compounded by shifting changes in the global balance of power and challenges to Washington from both traditional state actors (Russia, Iran, and Venezuela) and continuing threats from militant Islam, institutional liberalism’s least pressing task would seem to be the dogged pursuit of a more democratic world. Tarnished in particular by the mismanaged occupation of Iraq and the victory of Hamas in Gaza, serious doubts now remain over not only Washington’s capacity to build democracies abroad, but also the very desirability of such efforts. The starting point for many analysts today is instead the reality of a multi-polar world, in which the major players, now including China, India, Brazil and Russia, have divergent views of how they see their own and the rest of the world’s future. The pressing necessity—abstract for academics and public intellectuals, but all too real for the next administration—is how to best recalibrate foreign policy to match the implications of the new constellation of power for the future world order. But while power equations are changing, the international architecture continues to be mired in the power structures of the past, and mid-twentieth century designs are increasingly incapable of responding to the complex challenges of the twenty-first century. This mismatch between power and order at the international level is of particular concern to the US, and requires that Washington explore how global institutions may need to be altered in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interdependent yet multi-polar world. In this regard, traditional US Robert S. Singh is a Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom. 21
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SINGH The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations support for democracy promotion may appear, especially to many Americans, not only outdated, but counterproductive. But need this be the case? In the pages that follow I seek to advance a case for
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f_0018631_15955 - In Defense of a Concert of Liberal...

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