Amitav Acharya: The End of American World Order

Author:Amitav Acharya Date:2017-03-09

On March 6, 2017, the Institute of International & Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU) held the 11th seminar of "North Pavilion Seminar" series, inviting Amitav Acharya to give a keynote lecture on the topic of "the end of American world order". Amitav Acharya, a Canadian, is a Schwarzman Professor of international relations at Tsinghua University and Distinguished Professor at School of International Service, American University. The lecture was presided over by Assistant Prof. Gui Yongtao, Assistant President of IISS.

Prof. Acharya firstly pointed out that after Trump became the president of the U.S., what course to follow for the world order has become the primary theme of international politics. But before Trump came to power, the liberal world order has shown trends of collapse. By borrowing the view in his book The End of American World Order, Prof. Acharya demonstrated that the post-war liberal world order, which has been established on the foundations of military, economic and ideological advantages of the U.S. and supported by global institutions that serve the power and purposes of the U.S., is coming to an end. Yet collapse of the order doesn't mean the end of the world.

Although the liberal world order has been a leading world order in the post-war era, Prof. Acharya believed that it is not a global order on the reason that it excludes many other civilizations and is mainly built up by Western liberal states. Collapse of order means the challenge comes not from the rise of emerging powers but from within Western countries. Both Trump's winning of the presidential election and the Brexit reflect voters' great dissatisfaction with the injustices of globalization. And Trump took advantage of this appeal from voters in political election. Prof. Acharya further pointed out that there is no necessary correlation between the collapse of liberal order and Trump's coming to power. However, if Trump does carry out the policy of "making America great again", the liberal order will be devastated, and Trump may accelerate the pace of collapse especially in the four important aspects of free trade, international institutions, democratic institutions and liberal values.

Meanwhile, globalization will not be reversed; there will be a new round of neo-globalization led by the East rather than the West. Prof. Acharya proposed an order concept of "multiplex world", which is a world consisting of cultural and political pluralism and economy-depended multiple actors. Global governance will no longer rely solely on the old powers and large multilateral institutions, but will also rely on the participation of public and private institutions like non-government institutions, big companies and fund groups etc. He compared the new system to a movie theater with multiple halls that provides many choices of plots (concepts), directors (powers) and activities (leadership).

At the end of the seminar, Prof. Acharya analyzed the limitations of current mainstream theories from the theoretical perspective, and advocated for the establishment of a pluralist theoretical system that focuses more on future global development.

In the question-and-answer session, Prof. Acharya further discussed the positive role of regional multilateral organizations and China and other emerging powers with students and teachers at the seminar.

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