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Rebuilding the Foundation for Peaceful Progress

The structures supporting the global economy and the international political order are buckling under the pressure of pandemics, climate disaster, and war. To prevent a further unraveling, political leaders must update the old models of threat containment, multilateralism, and globalization.

BERLIN – Russia’s war in Ukraine has upended what one might call the world’s “peaceful progress regime.” It was a regime with three ingredients: globalization, which generates material prosperity worldwide; global collective action to address the negative effects of economic growth, not least rising inequality and climate change; and, perhaps most fundamentally, the absence of war.

These components were mutually reinforcing. According to the conventional wisdom, globalization – along with the existence of nuclear weapons and the deterrent effect of mutual assured destruction – made war increasingly untenable, and global collective action made globalization socially and environmentally acceptable.

This regime has now been fatally undermined by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s determination to redraw borders by force and reintroduce the threat of nuclear war. Moreover, many countries today have massive cyberwarfare capabilities that enable them to damage each other’s critical infrastructure – from electricity and water supplies to health and emergency services. An international arms race is inevitable.

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