May 1, 2012
If the worst threatened – a rogue nuclear state with a horrible surprise, a global health crisis, the collapse of financial institutions from New York to Shanghai and Mumbai – where would the world look for leadership? The United States, with its paralyzed politics and battered balance sheet? A European Union reeling from self-inflicted wounds? China’s “people’s democracy”? Perhaps Brazil, Turkey, or India, the geopolitical rookies of the year? Or some grand coalition of survivors, the last nations standing after half a decade of recession-induced turmoil?
How about none of the above?
For the first time in seven decades, there is no single power or alliance of powers ready to take on the challenges of global leadership. A generation ago, the United States, Europe, and Japan were the world’s powerhouses, the free-market democracies that propelled the global economy forward. Today, they struggle just to find their footing.
Acclaimed geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer argues that the world is facing a leadership vacuum. The diverse political and economic values of the G20 have produced global gridlock. Now that so many challenges transcend borders – from the stability of the global economy and climate change to cyber-attacks, terrorism, and the security of food and water – the need for international cooperation has never been greater. A lack of global leadership will provoke uncertainty, volatility, competition, and, in some cases, open conflict. Bremmer explains the risk that the world will become a series of gated communities as powers regionalized instead of globalized. In the generation to come, negotiations on economic and trade issues are likely to be just as fraught as recent debates over nuclear nonproliferation and climate change.
Disaster, thankfully, is never assured, and Bremmer details where the levers of power can still be found and how to exercise them for the common good. That’s important, because the one certainty of weakened nations and enfeebled institutions is that someone will try to take advantage of them.
Every Nation for Itself offers essential insights for anyone attempting to navigate the new global playing field.
Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, the world’s leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. His eight books include the international best-seller The End of the Free Market and The J Curve. He lives in New York City and Washington, DC.