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13 March 2018, Gateway House

Addressing ‘the global gap’

The 44th G7 summit, held in Canada in the first week of June, ended on a tense, disunited note—not unlike the premise of Richard Haass’ 2017 book, The World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. In this interview, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations discusses the role of international institutions, World Order 2.0 and how India can participate in it

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Aashna Agarwal (GH): You have written about the global gap and how it can be addressed. What should the next steps for international institutions be in order to seriously address this gap?

Richard Haass: Well, there is a gap in virtually every aspect of international relations – between global challenges, on the one hand – terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, issues dealing with climate change, cyberspace, infectious disease — and the ability and willingness of the world to deal with them, on the other. That is the gap and what it’s going to take is, governments of the world to be willing to work together. In some cases, it may require some compromise to try to narrow these gaps. At the moment, the space or the gap between where the world is and where it needs to be is growing. And that’s something that we all will pay a price for.

GH: So, the best way to reduce the gap would be co-operation?

RH: Absolutely, yes. I don’t think unilateralism is a serious option in a global world. No one country — not mine, not India, not China — can manage these global issues. If they’re not managed well, every country will pay a price. I think that is the lesson; that what happens beyond the country’s borders has the ability to enter it for the worse. So everyone has a self-interest, but just because governments have a self-interest doesn’t mean they act on it.

GH: Tell us some more about your world order, 2.0. Under what circumstances can the world ideally transition to this new system?

RH: Our world 2.0 is based on the idea that the current world order, which I call 1.0, is based on a world where the basic principle is sovereignty; that countries don’t invade other countries. Every once in a while they do, as we saw with Russia and Crimea; as we saw with Saddam Hussein and Kuwait 25 years ago. But that’s a threat to order, and we need to respond.

What I am arguing is that we need a world in which countries are not only considering their rights — the right of sovereignty — but also thinking about their obligations. What do they need to do to make sure nothing goes on within their territory that could be bad for others? So, for example, they can’t harbour or help terrorist groups. They should not be able to misuse cyber space, such as hacking or interfering in someone else’s elections. Take climate change – countries have to be responsible for what they do or don’t do, or it will again have implications

This returns us to the question of the global gap. My point is that we need countries to understand that if they are going to have the rights of sovereignty, they also have to accept some obligations, because if they don’t, they will suffer – and so will everyone else in a global world.

GH: We have this new world order, 2.0. What role do you see India playing in it?

RH: We don’t have it; we need to have it, this new order. One question is whether India will agree with this. India has, over the years, been very sensitive to its sovereignty – the question is whether India will begin to understand that that’s a necessary, but not sufficient, attitude or framework; that India needs to think through what its own obligations are, in climate, against terrorism, in any issue to deal with cyber space. (India has many talented people there.) It’s then that Indian foreign policy will begin to reflect it. India cannot solve these problems by itself, but it can think them through and then it can come to groups, whether it’s the G20 or just a group of like-minded countries, it can offer its ideas and be willing to be a participant in shaping this next era of international relations.

GH: Does populism threaten the basic tenets of democracy, or is it one of the outcomes of democracy?

RH: Populism can be an outcome of democracy, particularly in mature democracies, where you don’t have real checks and balances. Populism can also come out of democracy simply when there are economic conditions which create real insecurity. And when people are feeling insecure, they will often make political choices that I think are dangerous or anti-democratic. I think that’s what is happening now. So I think the populism we are seeing around the world is a real concern. We are seeing it in my country and throughout Europe, and it’s not going away.

It is something we need to take into account regularly, because — you are right — it is a real threat, and a world which is defined by populism, by nationalism, will be a world much more likely to have a conflict. Whether it is a conflict on trade, or good old-fashioned conflict with military arms, it certainly won’t be a world where we cooperate to deal with the kinds of global challenges we have just been discussing. So actually, I think the rise of populism is a dangerous development.

GH: This relates back to what you said during your panel discussion about how job loss in the U.S. is not necessarily related to free trade, but more related to technological innovation.

RH: Absolutely yes, but the problem is that people misunderstand what’s happened. They look at job loss and they say, ‘we are going to blame it on foreign imports’ or ‘on immigrants’. That’s why you have those pressures in the United States and Europe. If we go down that path, we will make matters worse. We need to have a serious national conversation about how we are going to train and educate Americans for the next era.

The same thing is true in India. You are going to want to have a similar conversation. This is not just for the countries with GDP above a certain level. For India, for example, which has so much stake in the financial sector, or in IT, Artificial Intelligence is a threat. So for India too, this is a big issue.

Richard Haass is President, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, USA

Aashna Agarwal is Content Coordinator, Gateway House.

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