The Future of International Relations
Many people now believe that the future of international development lies not with large organizations like the World Bank or USAID or UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), but with nimble entrepreneurs and small businesses. Alex Evans often talks of a movement not towards a G20 world but towards a Gø world. Parag Khanna, of TED fame, likes to talk of structural change (moving from a world of unipolarity where the US is all-powerful to a multipolar world with multiple loci of influence) and of systemic change (with hordes of influential new actors other than countries, like cities and corporations).
While I can’t always buy into such black-and-white arguments, there is some credibility to their claims—especially (and hopefully) to their predictions that collaboration (“proactive”) will become a more useful tactic than diplomacy (“reactive”). Which is why I was disappointed to hear President Obama’s State of the Union address yesterday, in which he boldly claimed that the United States must win.
Why must everything be about winning? Since when is economic growth a game? Since when is toying with protectionist trade policies, unemployment, war in multiple countries, and human rights abuses a game? This, if anything, is precisely the reason why the US won’t win—because it places itself on a pedestal of excellence, alienates any and every neighbor and friend, and gives more reasons for potential enemies to become definite enemies. If there’s any explanation for why the US has gotten this far, it’s because of hardworking citizens and entrepreneurs—and not because of our government and its quest for total domination.