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Una enseñanza decisiva que el próximo Presidente de los Estados Unidos extraerá de las experiencias del gobierno de Bush será, seguro, la de que el multilateralismo importa. Las ideas de hegemonía y respuestas unilaterales americanas tienen poco sentido cuando la mayoría de las amenazas graves que los países afrontan en la actualidad –problemas como el cambio climático, las pandemias, la estabilidad financiera y el terrorismo– quedan fuera del control incluso de los países mayores. Todos ellos requieren la cooperación multilateral.

Las Naciones Unidas pueden desempeñar un papel importante para ayudar a legitimar y aplicar los acuerdos entre países, pero incluso sus amigos más fieles reconocen que su gran tamaño, sus rígidos bloques regionales, sus procedimientos diplomáticos formales y su voluminosa burocracia impiden con frecuencia el consenso. Como dijo un sabio, el problema para las organizaciones multilaterales es el de "cómo lograr que todo el mundo participe y, aun así, lograr que se actúe".

Una respuesta es la de complementar las Naciones Unidas creando organizaciones consultivas oficiosas en los niveles regional y mundial. Por ejemplo, durante las crisis financieras que siguieron a las crisis del petróleo del decenio de 1970, el Gobierno de Francia recibió a los dirigentes de cinco economías destacadas para debatir y coordinar sus políticas. Su propósito era el de mantener el carácter oficioso y reducido de la reunión al limitarla a un número de participantes que cupiera en la biblioteca del castillo de Rambouillet.

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