When Democracies Collide

The multipolar nature of today’s international system will again be on display at the upcoming G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. As incipient great and middle powers, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and South Africa, pursue their own interests and stake out their own positions, the "Old West" must adjust.

BERLIN – The multipolar nature of today’s international system will again be on display at the upcoming G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Global problems are no longer solved, crises managed, or global rules defined, let alone implemented, the old-fashioned way, by a few, mostly Western, powers. Incipient great and middle powers, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and South Africa, also demand their say.

Some of these powers are still emerging economies. Politically, however, most of them have crossed the threshold that has long limited their access to the kitchen of international decision-making. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the “P-5”) still defend their right to veto resolutions, and their military power is unmatched. But they can no longer dispose of sufficient resources, competence, and legitimacy to cope with global challenges or crises on their own.

Bipolarity is a thing of the past, and it is unlikely to re-emerge in a new Sino-American “G-2.” It is equally unlikely for the foreseeable future that any one club of countries, such as the G-7 or G-8, will again assume a quasi-hegemonic position. Even the G-20 in its current composition may not really represent the forces that can and will shape the twenty-first century.

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