Associate Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University
James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance and Director, International Institutions and Global Governance Program, Council on Foreign Relations
Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
As the opening plenary session of the 2018 College and University Educators Workshop, Tamar Gutner and Stewart M. Patrick discuss the current state of global governance and the Trump administration's approach to international organizations and multilateralism, with James M. Lindsay.
LINDSAY: Good evening, everybody. I am Jim Lindsay, senior vice president, director of studies and Maurice R. Greenberg chair here at the Council on Foreign Relations. I want to welcome you all to tonight’s event as we kick off our College and University Educators Workshop. Our opening plenary session tonight is entitled, if I have this correct, “Global Governance After U.S. Withdrawal.”
Before I start, I’d like to remind everybody that this meeting is on the record, so the three of us, we are going to be, when everything is said and done, posted on the internet to be shared widely. And I would encourage everybody to share with your students and your colleagues.
Now, if you look at the agenda, we were supposed to have three panelists joining me up here. And being a good social scientist, I assume people have noticed there are only two people joining me here. (Laughter.)
PATRICK: I think the economists got it. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: Unfortunately, Sara Kliff, who was supposed to join us, is unable to join us because of a conflicting commitment. So nonetheless, Tamar and Stewart have both agreed to soldier on and to shoulder more of the airtime to chat with you tonight.
So you should all have the complete bios for Tamar and Stewart, but I’ll sort of introduce them briefly.
Tamar, who is to my immediate left, is associate professor of international relations at American University’s School of International Service. Her research focuses on the performance and effectiveness of international organizations, particularly international financial institutions—I’ll drop the first acronym for the night; those are IFIs, for people who don’t study international financial institutions—and she spends a lot of time researching their role in global and regional governance.
Her most recent book is International Organizations and Global Governance, out from CQ Press. And I think I’m allowed to say this—and if I’m not, Tammi, I apologize for breaking confidence—but Tammi—let me step back. The Council has a variety of fellowship programs. We have a couple of fellowship programs for professors to enable them to have the opportunity to go work in government. And Tammi has recently won our—been awarded a fellowship as part of our program for fellowships for tenured professors of international relations, to become what we call an international affairs fellow—an IAF, my second acronym of the night; I will try to go light on the acronyms from here on out.
So, first, just congratulations for being awarded that. (Applause.)
GUTNER: They put me to work right away. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: Yes, we do. We always ask for something.
And to Tammi’s left is my good friend and colleague Stewart Patrick, who is the James H. Binger senior fellow in global governance here at the Council. He directs our International Institutions and Global Governance Program. Stewart has written widely and well on a whole range of issues related to global governance. And his most recent book is The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America With the World, out from Brookings Institution Press.
So, again, I want to thank Tammi and Stewart for joining us. And I guess we’re going to begin. Our topic is global governance after the American withdrawal.
So maybe I’ll start with you, Tammi. And just give me, from your vantage point, what is the state of global governance today? If you were grading it, what grade would you give? (Laughter.) And also, tell us whether you’re a tough grader or an easy grader as you do it.
GUTNER: Don’t ask me that, that’s a—that’s a really difficult question.
I think it’s clear to all of us that it’s a very challenging time in global governance, mainly because the most powerful state, the U.S., which was responsible for creating many of the key institutions in global governance, has been actively undermining them. And it’s almost—it’s a very hypocritical kind of behavior and action that we’re seeing.
So we see—but we’re also seeing flipflop, right? So when you—when the topic of the panel is withdrawal, the withdrawal is not always clear. You know, yesterday we’re pulling out of TPP, last week we might be going back in TPP, but now we’re not going back in TPP—
LINDSAY: Trans-Pacific Partnership.
GUTNER: Sorry, sorry.
LINDSAY: Basic rule: We always have to explain our acronyms.
GUTNER: (Chuckles.) OK. The U.S. has been critical of the multilateral banks, like the World Bank, but we have news from a couple of days ago that now the U.S. is moving forward to agreeing to a capital increase for the World Bank. So we have this kind of uncertainty as well, that we know that the administration is critical of the major institutions of global governance, but then we have flipflopping happening as well.
And I think it’s a—you know, some people may argue, and we’ll probably talk about this today, that, you know, is the bark worse than the bite. And that’s a discussion to have and it may be the case. But I’m worried about the long-term implications for the loss of leadership and the active undermining, because that’s—you know, or the U.S. stepping out and creating a leadership vacuum that China is walking right into.
And I asked my students a couple of weeks ago if they could identify which country said the following thing. Maybe I can ask the audience here. An official from which country said the following thing a couple of weeks ago? The WTO, the World Trade Organization, is in crisis, we must link arms and protect it.
Would you have said that five years ago? No. Right? So sometimes it feels like it’s a topsy-turvy world that China is now coming out, you know, pro global governance, for environmental governance, for trade issues, for energy issues. It’s for democracy. It’s for—you know, I don’t—I’m confused.
LINDSAY: Not at home, though.
GUTNER: I’m confused. You probably are, too. So it’s a very, very interesting and uncertain time in global governance.
LINDSAY: Good. Stewart, how would you assess global governance today?
PATRICK: Yeah. I think Tammi and I are going to be on the same page, at least in our general assessment. I think that we have a crisis in global governance that has definitely been exacerbated by Donald Trump’s “America first” agenda.
I would say that it’s important to realize that it wasn’t as if global governance—and by that I mean international cooperation largely, state-centered, but complemented by the activities of nongovernmental organizations and private corporations in terms of solving global issues and collective problems—that that was not exactly healthy before Donald Trump took over. It’s been under strain for quite some time, it’s been under strain thanks to the rise of powers like China, including ones with at least partially revisionist intentions. It’s been under strain with rise of new problems, like climate change or cyber insecurity, that we haven’t really had institutions being able to adapt to them.
And we haven’t—not only have we not provided new voice opportunities and weight to rising powers, but we’ve also seen rising geopolitical competition amongst the major centers of world power and also a tremendous value divergence over questions about what’s the meaning of sovereignty and how to defend it. So it wasn’t healthy as we were going into it.
And then on top of that, of course, we’ve had major crises. We had the global financial crisis, and there were some adaptations in the wake of that, but still, it pointed to how weak some of our existing institutions have been to try to deal with that.
Now, I agree with Tammi that there’s been a lot of flipflopping and some inconsistency on the part of the Trump administration. But it is remarkable the degree to which he has, in a sense, taken aim at the world that America made. Whether you talk about the World Trade Organization, the successor to the GATT, where the president has suggested that we’re just not going to necessarily abide by the findings of the appellate panel or the dispute resolution mechanism of that institution, that we’re going to gut the funding, if he had his druthers, of the United Nations, that we’re going to be very skeptical of international treaties, particularly any new international treaties, that we’re walking away from the most important multilateral agreement of the 21st century, and that is the Paris climate agreement. So there are a number of different areas there where you’ve seen the United States retreating or pulling back, notwithstanding some of the vacillations.
Now, what’s interesting, if there’s sort of a silver lining, it’s that what used to be called the indispensable power is perhaps a little bit more dispensable than it has been in the past. And you’ve seen countries—and the Paris agreement is a good example of this—where you’ve seen countries trying to pick up the slack and at least say we’re going to move forward. You’ve also seen this really interesting phenomenon in the United States, and you probably see it in your states and cities, where, you know, when it comes to the Paris agreement, for instance, a whole lot of people saying we’re still in. And so you have a lot of—a lot of dynamism still within different parts of the American polity.
A big question is whether or not—again, using a crystal ball—whether or not we will look back on this time and see this as sort of an aberration between two periods of American internationalism or whether or not we’ll see it as a definitive breakpoint that we really can’t get back to afterwards.
LINDSAY: Stewart and Tammi, let me draw you out on this question of the Trump administration’s approach to international organizations, to multilateralism. Because I’d like to hear you sort of assess what is wrong with the approach that President Trump has taken.
Let me just give you an example. The president’s argument, as I understand it, is—looking at an organization, let’s take the World Trade Organization—it has existed for a number of years and it’s ultimately not fair to the United States, that it allows countries, most notably China, to claim they’re playing by the rules when in fact they aren’t. And as best I can tell reading the business pages of various newspapers and watching talking heads on TV, there seems to be pretty much a consensus among businesspeople and economists that the Chines have in fact exploited the rules of the WTO, that they’re not complying either with the letter or the spirit of the organization.
And it’s not just the Trump administration that has said that. The Barack Obama administration in its final 12 months filed at least four cases at WTO arguing the Chinese weren’t playing by the rules. So maybe we could talk a little bit about WTO, but also other organizations. It seems to me that part of the Trump administration’s critique is that you shouldn’t slavishly adhere to these organizations when they themselves are not working. And if I understand Stewart quite correctly, you would agree that, to some extent, those organizations weren’t working and that it wasn’t that they were working well and then Donald Trump came along and mucked things up.
GUTNER: Should I have the first shot?
LINDSAY: You get—you get the first shot.
GUTNER: OK. So first of all, I think the major issue is that the solutions don’t fit the problems that are identified. I think that’s my biggest critique of the Trump administration. These global institutions that we’re talking about, the WTO and other multilateral institutions, they’re imperfect. Right? They’re huge, they’ve grown over time. And I like what Dag Hammarskjöld once said, the former U.N. secretary-general, that the United Nations—he was talking about the United Nations—it wasn’t created to get us to heaven, but to keep us from hell. Right?
These are—and this applies to the other institutions as well, that they’re imperfect and part of the reason they’re imperfect is the member states who control them don’t agree with each other or they dump more and more mandates on them, so you have mission creep, you have all these things going on. And then it’s easy to blame the institution, which the Trump administration does, but part of it is about the political will of the member states.
And I don’t think that they were unilaterally unhealthy before this administration. I think the performance issues of these institutions come in waves, so they go out of—they become unpopular and then they become popular. If you look at the global financial crisis, the IMF was facing a crisis of legitimacy before the financial crisis. And then the crisis hit and the IMF rose like a phoenix out of the ashes, right? It became, you know, centerstage of being the policemen, the financial policemen to fix the world. And you see this happening with other institutions as well. So at the end of the day when you really need them, they’re there. You know, they serve a role.
And I think the other issue is, when you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with them, we have what I call the “eye of the beholder” problem. You know, who’s identifying the problem? Environmentalists might think that the World Bank is terrible and causing unnormal environmental degradation, whereas, you know, bankers might think it’s doing quite a nice job, you know. So it depends on who you’re asking.
And I always find it curious when an institution is troubled to respond that, well, we should get rid of it, you know. Shouldn’t we identify what’s wrong? So if the problem is that China is not following the rules, couldn’t we think more about what incentives to provide it or how to tighten up the WTO? Shouldn’t we think about addressing a specific problem? We either like to get rid of institutions or we like to create new ones on top. Right?
So I feel that the Trump administration’s approach is just too blunt in terms of identifying what’s—it’s sort of, you know, we don’t like it. And we know, we are academics, we know that there’s a generation of literature that tells us all the reasons why these institutions are useful. Right? It’s easier to have all the countries in one place than 192 bilateral discussions. Right? We have iterative—raise your hand if you know—iterative cooperation, reciprocity. (Laughter.) I mean, this is what we’re teaching, this is—this is the literature in our field. So I guess one issue is how we better convey the things we work on to the current administration.
PATRICK: Yeah. I would heartily agree. I think that, you know, the Trump administration has taken such a transactional and, in a sense, “my way or the highway” sort of noniterative approach to this. And I actually wonder sometimes whether or not it reflects Donald Trump’s past in the commercial real estate business.
GUTNER: Yes, yeah.
PATRICK: Because if you—as long as you have another buyer or seller, you can always walk away. But the problem is that you have the same group of countries and you have to deal with them on an iterative basis.
I fully agree with what Jim said about the dysfunctionality, often pathologies of international institutions, you know, problems of principal agent, problems of—and I know as academics you’ll know what I mean there—problems of delegation, problems of pooling, of sovereignty, et cetera. They’re built to be frustrating. And yet, for all of their frustrations, they do bring efficiency gains often, or at least greater effectiveness out of collective action than any potential unilateral or bilateral approach would bring.
I think that the attack on all multilateral institutions as being, in a sense, a rip-off ignores a couple of things. One, it ignores just the burden-sharing and, to some degree, legitimacy that one gets from working with international institutions, and it overplays, in a sense, the costs. Donald Trump is really remarkable compared to other presidents in the post-war period in the degree to which he is not investing in the actual system.
The great strategist Arnold Wolfers talked about the importance of investing in what he called milieu or pursuing milieu goals. In other words, you create an order in which others can conceivably benefit.
Now, it’s true that in the case of trade, no question that—and that’s why it’s very rich for, you know, Xi Jinping to go to Davos last year and present himself as the great savior of globalization right after Donald Trump has pronounced “America first” in the United States. I mean, if you look at, you know, the openness of the Chinese economy, it’s absurd on its face, and so the frustration makes sense.
I think the difficulty is to try to take a unilateral approach to this. And, you know, I think, yes, there is—there is room for sort of bilateral negotiation of the voluntary export restraints, for instance, of the kind that the United States negotiated with Japan in the 1980s to save its semiconductor industry.
LINDSAY: Not if you want to adhere to the rules of the WTO.
PATRICK: Yeah. OK. Yes, but I think that, you know, there are—but there are also remedies that one could pursue within the context of the WTO. You’ve mentioned that the Obama administration actually had several cases on China in front of the WTO. So there—at least there are some remedies within that framework. It doesn’t give you the full flexibility that really just, you know, taking a bilateral, much more aggressive approach takes.
Fundamentally, I think that there are—one has to recognize that the problem that we’re talking about, when it—they require sort of—there are so many that require almost inherently global solutions, that there are problems without passports, right, whether one talks about financial instability, infectious disease, climate change, et cetera. And those are ones where we need international institutions and they can’t simply be done on an ad hoc basis.
LINDSAY: I want to drill down more on this question of global governance, regional organizations, and get a sense from the two of you as to where you think are the biggest problems. And we’ve talked a lot so far about WTO. But clearly, the World Trade Organization is by no means the only international organization, whether we’re talking about military alliances, think NATO, or we’re talking about regional organizations, ASEAN, EU, some of those organizations, the ones that the United States is not party to that have their own problems.
So can we sort of talk a little bit about, as you look at the global governance space, where things might be potentially going in a positive direction and what might be going in a negative direction?
Do you want to go first with it?
PATRICK: Yeah, I’ll take a couple of these.
I would think that—I think that—I’ll point to the African Union as one institution which is very slowly increasing its capabilities to deal with peace and security issues as well as political stability issues on the African continent. The difficulty there is it tends to be primarily—it’s less a function of political will these days as it used to be, the organization, the African Union, that you couldn’t criticize or there was a tendency not to criticize the behavior of other governments, et cetera, or to intervene in sort of regional conflicts or internal conflicts. Now there’s an expectation that there’s a principled non-indifference as to what goes on within those countries.
The difficulty is largely, at largely in part, financial in that there is very little independent capability, the independent investment that African countries are delivering for the African peace and security architecture. So that’s one example of a place where there’s been some progress, but much more needs to be done.
Let me—let me hold it off there. I don’t know if you want to discuss Asia.
GUTNER: Right. So I guess I would like to add, what is an interesting development in regional governance, which is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB or A-double-I-B—we’re not—we haven’t settled on what we’re calling the acronym—but I’m very fascinated by it because China has created its own regional multilateral bank. And every—a lot of people are shaking their heads.
And there was a lot of concern in the early days, what does this mean? What are they up to? We have a number of other development banks working in Asia. We have the World Bank, we have the EBRD, we have the Asian Development Bank. What is China doing? What is it up to?
And I find it very fascinating because China created a state-of-the-art development bank. There’s nothing different about it, it follows the rules and norms of existing banks. It’s not some weird thing, right? It has—all the credit agencies have offered it AAA credit ratings which means it looks, walks, and talks like other development banks. It was even designed—key designers were Americans. They hired Americans. The person who wrote the bank’s article of agreement came from the World Bank, and the person who wrote the bank’s environmental and social framework came from the World Bank and wrote the policies for the EBRD.
And I guess this goes back to the bigger question. I mean, even if the U.S. is pulling out or disappearing a bit from global governance, we’re leaving behind a set of rules and norms. This is kind of the Ikenberrian argument, right, when you—when you create these institutions, you create a set of rules. And even if states rise and fall, the rules are still there and the rules, you know, lock in a certain order, but also restrain different actors.
So the AIIB is just following all the rules, and we have to keep an eye on it because it has 84 members now, so it makes it the second-largest development bank after the World Bank. And it’s going to start lending outside of Asia, what does that mean? So it’s very interesting, you know, these positive, interesting development in global regional governance.
PATRICK: Yeah. I think that—I think what’s really interesting about the AIIB, as you say, is that it’s a situation where China has, in a sense, stepped into the vacuum that was left by the United States there. And wrongfooted, the United States, when the institution was being set up, because the United States didn’t—it responded extremely clumsily diplomatically.
Another area of global governance regionally where obviously there’s been huge difficulties recently because it’s been stuck in a halfway house between a federal union and an—and a sort of an intergovernmental institution is the European Union. And there, obviously, there has been, driven by many of the same dynamics that helped elect Donald Trump—obviously, the Brexit decision, reaffirming or a reaffirmation of national sovereignty and a populist rejection, in a sense, against globalization—it doesn’t seem to be bringing prosperity, it doesn’t seem to be bringing safety, and it seems to threaten national identity in some views. Right? And we see those sorts of dynamics very much in the United States as well in certain political circles.
The European Union has had a wave of crises—the eurozone crisis, obviously, the refugee crisis, crises of dealing with terrorism—and part of the problem has been that it’s been stuck, as I said, been this halfway house. On the one hand, it’s sort of General Charles de Gaulle’s vision of a Europe de patrie or a Europe of the nation states. But on the other hand, there has been an effort to create supernatural institutions in Brussels and elsewhere.
And yet, the tension between the two of those was quite apparent when you have, for instance, the Schengen agreement which allows the free movement of people within that entity, and yet if there’s no common external border force, then who’s controlling who actually gets into that—into that entity? Similarly with the eurozone, you have a common banking union now and a common currency within the eurozone, but you don’t have a common fiscal union.
So I think a lot of these debates mirror others in global governance, which is, how much—how much authority does one cede to central organizations versus how much do the national governments retain?
GUTNER: Can I add a point to that, please? I think that’s a really important issue in the sense that the Brexit and the rise of populism in the U.S. and Poland and Hungary, you know, across Europe, we can’t blame all the challenge of global governance on the U.S., right, on the Trump administration. There’s a feeling that these institutions of national governments and international organizations have failed some people, that some people have been left behind. So we have to make sure to bring that into the conversation as well.
PATRICK: Very much so.
LINDSAY: Who do you think has been left behind? Or does it vary depending upon the institution you’re talking about?
GUTNER: Well, I think if you look at some of these movements, different categories of people in the U.S., you know, workers, laborers, steelworkers in Pennsylvania, you know, there are categories of people who just feel that they haven’t benefited from their governments or from global institutions. And, you know, I always wonder how much of that—to what extent some of that is kind of a ripple effect from the global financial crisis. Because if we had a booming global economy in the last 10 years, would we still have this dissatisfaction? And in Europe, it’s also people just feeling left out by the EU. They’re just not benefiting.
You know, there are other categories. When you look at Brexit, it was a generational difference. There were fears of waves of immigrants pouring in and refugees, so fears about what does all this mean. But, yeah, and it was—there were differences between cities and country and London and, you know, other parts, so there are—there are a lot of different categories of dissatisfaction, but that dissatisfaction is real. And you could even argue that our global institutions, our regional institutions weren’t paying enough attention to that, and neither were national governments or the EU.
PATRICK: Yeah. I would say that, you know, it’s—the extraordinary levels of inequality—and the U.S. stands a bit of an outlier compared to most other OECD countries in this regard. But still, even within the broader group of wealthy industrialized advanced democracies, inequality has increased in most countries.
And there—I think there’s also a bit of an element of technology here, too, because what technology has done in part is it’s empowered, it’s created, or exacerbated sort of a winner-take-all situation where you get just extraordinary concentrations of wealth at the highest echelons, and yet those who lack job training or the—or the—or the skills, I would say, to be able to take advantage of this new economy are left behind.
A lot of the—a lot of the sort of blaming on China or blaming about—although China is, from what I gather, according to our colleague Ted Alden, responsible for the elimination of 2 million out of 6 million industrial manufacturing jobs from between 2000 and 2010 in the United States. So China’s competition and entry into the WTO has made a big difference. But probably a majority of those, of the jobs in manufacturing have been eliminated largely by automation.
Another point that you’ve mentioned, the migration fear, I think that’s really an interesting one, I think, and it’s an ugly one often. It’s no surprise that the backlash against immigration in the United States is coming. It tends to come in waves, as you know, from your studies of history. And we are now approaching sort of the 15 percent of Americans born outside the country, which is not a total peak, but it’s getting pretty close to what we’ve seen historically.
And other countries are dealing with that, too. And I think it challenges in many countries senses of people’s national identity. And I think, obviously, we need to move towards more of a pluralistic sense of national identity and one that is not based in blood and soil. I think it’s easier in the United States to accomplish that, although some of the alt-right movements give one pause as to how much people are going to accept that. But in many other countries around the world, it is very difficult to be accepted as a national if you are born in different places, have a different religion, and speak different languages.
LINDSAY: I’d like both of you to help me sort of think through the costs of what you both seem to agree is American withdrawal, because you’ve painted a pretty complicated picture. We have some organizations which are going through troubles to which the United States is not a party. You have pointed out that, in some cases, the response to American withdrawal is that other countries have stepped to the fore. And it indicates that the AIIB or A-double-I-B or whatever, however we decide to do the acronym, might actually be a good thing and maybe that it’s part of the socialization of China and indeed part of the Trump administration’s critique of the practice of foreign policy over the last quarter century, if not longer, was that America took too much on itself that other people could do.
You’ve also said that, to some extent, many of these international organizations don’t work for a lot of people. So how do—how do you think about the costs of American withdrawal, and who bears the costs?
GUTNER: There’s probably a short and a medium and a long-term cost, right? So in the short—and maybe some of them are connected. So some of it, it’s too early to say. If the U.S. is pulling out, we have to see who’s coming in. Is anybody coming in or nobody’s coming in? Is there—you know, is China really ready to take that mantle of leadership or not? So we can end up with what Ian Bremmer calls, you know, a G-Zero world, right, where there’s nobody driving the bus. And that’s—that’s short—I guess that’s—I’m going to take away my short, medium—I think that’s short, medium, and long term, right? I mean, it’s a problem, right?
I think the biggest long-term issue is the hit on leadership and reputation. I don’t know how you repair that. How quickly do you repair that? You know, you have a country that’s been other countries could turn to as a leader and it doesn’t want to be the leader anymore. So how do you fix that over the long term? I don’t have an answer to that.
LINDSAY: So what would your response be to an unemployed steelworker somewhere in the Upper Midwest who’s cheering the tariffs that many people in our business are saying are tearing at the fabric of the world America made? How would you persuade them that in fact what they’re cheering is not in their interests?
GUTNER: I’m not sure you can do that. I mean, I think there are some arguments you’re just not going to in, right? If I were looking at the big picture, I would talk about who benefits from tariffs and who loses from the tariffs. And other Americans are going to be hurt by the tariffs, some Americans benefit by the tariffs. Same in other countries, right? So it affects people in different ways. But if you’re one of the people hurt, I don’t think anybody can come in and say, you know, you might be hurt, but look, these people are benefiting, isn’t that great? I don’t think that’s going to sway anybody. It’s a really tough nut to crack.
LINDSAY: Do you want to jump in here, Stewart?
PATRICK: Yeah, I think that—yeah, the problem with, of course, with trade is that it’s the distributional impacts, you know, are quite severe on a relatively small number of people often, or at least relatively small, and then the—but the benefits of open trade are sort of spread over—and reasonably modest amounts of benefit over a large number of people. So that’s always hard.
LINDSAY: But I guess I don’t want to—I don’t want to limit the issue of costs just to trade agreements.
PATRICK: Yeah, yeah, let me—
LINDSAY: You know, when you think of not relying on the United Nations or questioning NATO—
PATRICK: Yeah, let me—yeah, let me—let me—let me keep—yeah, let me keep—let me go on on that, on the costs. And one is reputational and I’ll pick up on that. I mean, you know, it’s sort of quaint at this stage even the notion of soft power and the halo that redounds to, according to Joe Nye, that redounds to American values, institutions, and standing in the world, and reputation. I’m not sure that that—that is—that soft power has gotten pretty pummeled. It’s soft indeed these days, I would say.
And I think an example of where a very “my way or the highway” choice can create difficulties is, for instance, when Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the United States was going to be taking names in terms of some votes with respect to Jerusalem moving to—the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Now, you know, that may have played well in certain quarters in the United States, but the problem with that is that virtually guaranteed that you would—that there would be absolutely no movement in the direction of voting along the sides of the United States for any, perhaps, fence-sitters because it immediately would create a situation where you would be seen as a toady for the United States.
And it also doesn’t really reflect the way that international institutions work. You don’t—they exist precisely so that nobody gets their way the entire time. So, obviously, there is tremendous frustrations built into it, but that’s—so that’s one problem is the reputational hit.
There’s also the sort of strategic hit that the United States takes. The United States’ decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a blow not just to the global economy, but a tremendous blow to U.S. geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific. It led—it has led to a phenomenon of hedging on the part of a number of former U.S. allies and partners where they’re either sort of balancing maybe a little bit more towards China or at least hedging their best or at least being uncertain about U.N.-U.S. security guarantees or U.S. staying power in the region. And I think that that’s something that you don’t get back very quickly.
And, you know, the Obama administration went to great lengths to try to pivot or rebalance, as it were, to the Asia-Pacific. And that just undermines that whole, I think, very laudatory exercise.
I will say one thing about Donald Trump that, in a way, I think that some of his instincts are not all bad. I think that Jim had sort of intimated that, well, you know, what’s wrong? You know, if you’re—if you’re looking at this from a, you know, a realist perspective or a “what’s in it for me” perspective as an—as an American, why are we involved in these unending wars in, you know, Southwest Asia and the Middle East? And I think that, you know, the instinct to move towards what, you know, somebody like Steve Walt would call an offshore balancer as opposed to an onshore organizer of other people’s security, much less a nation-builder, I think there’s a lot to be said for that instinct and that sort of statecraft.
So some of those instincts, I don’t know, I don’t think every single instinct that he came up with, that he has is wrong. And I can understand why that argument appealed to American people who are exhausted of unending international adventures.
LINDSAY: A quick question that either of you could jump on. Is your assessment that the damage that Donald Trump has done to the world America made—and I think that’s the point of view both of you have—have we reached a point of no return? Have we passed a tipping point? Is it the case that if a different president was in office in January of 2021 there’s no way of going back, or that there’s still enough residue of good will, there’s still enough hunger for American leadership, there’s still enough need for global governance that things could be turned around?
GUTNER: I think the big issue is, when you’re looking at institutions of global governance, is, how resilient are they? You know, that—and I don’t know the answer to that. How resilient are they?
You see in some institutions, like the World Bank, it’s constantly trying to fix the past problems, it’s constantly being reorganized. And that’s a problem, too, because then you’re always looking backward and you’re saying, oh, we didn’t, you know—development shouldn’t just be infrastructure, we should—we can’t do that if we don’t have rural development, we better add that. OK, well, that doesn’t work if we’re not dealing with the environment and gender, we better add that. And what about judicial reform, we better put that in and anticorruption. And so then you have these institutions in trying to fix what they haven’t done well just taking on more and more.
So, you know, one thing I think is good, I think it’s fine if the Trump administration says, well, why are they doing all these things, and should they really have such high salaries? And, you know, I mean, it’s always good to ask questions, right? We should always be asking, could you do things differently, could you do things better?
But this bigger rhetorical and sometimes beyond rhetorical undermining is a problem. So what—you know, if you keep undermining the U.N., what happens? We don’t have, you know, that. Some of—some of the institutions you’d need to create if you didn’t have them because you can’t just do everything bilaterally, you have to have something that’s multilateral, I think.
So the key question is how resilient they are, and I feel that some are trying harder to be more resilient than others, and some have not been as harmed as others. Like, the IMF seems to be doing pretty fine, you know. So that’s the question that we don’t have. It’s unfolding before our eyes, which makes this a very fascinating time to be scholars of these issues and to teach them in the classroom because they’re literally unfolding while we’re, you know, running our classes.
PATRICK: So, yeah, to get—to get back to a statement I made earlier, I think, you know, we still—I think a lot of countries are playing a waiting game to see whether or not this is going to be seen as a weird parentheses between two different epochs of internationalism and, you know, thinking that, well, goodness, you know, given U.S. stakes in a stable and orderly international system and hopefully one that can bring at least some measure of equitable shared growth, it’s really unlikely that any of the remedies that Donald Trump has been proposing are ones that are going to necessarily redound well to the United States and also, perhaps, he may be unpopular and not—or not in office for that much longer. So I think there is a waiting game going on, but it’s a—it’s a damaging waiting game.
I do think that what happens afterwards—let’s say another Republican or a Democrat is elected. First of all, a lot of the ideas that animated Donald Trump’s base were also pretty present particularly on the economic front on the Democratic side, right? So we saw a remarkable performance by a charismatic senator from Vermont, but one who had been an independent socialist and without a huge legislative record, but sort of caught fire, right? And that base—and so what’s going to happen to the Democratic Party? Who are they going to nominate in 2020?
Similarly, on the Republican side, is the Republican Party Donald Trump’s party now? Apparently, it is now, but were he to either leave office earlier than scheduled or were he not to be reelected, what would happen? Because the former consensus on internationalism in general in the Republican Party has really been shattered, I think. And, yeah, so I think that a lot of it has to do with what happens domestically within the United States in terms of how the parties realign themselves on foreign policy.
LINDSAY: OK. So we have a roomful of people who teach about foreign policy and related topics, so I have to ask this question since we’re talking about the substance.
How do you teach this in the classroom, Tammi? Besides having people read your book, International Organizations and World Politics, but what is your advice?
PATRICK: But, Tammi, who published that book?
LINDSAY: CQ Press.
PATRICK: Interesting. Yeah, it’s probably for sale. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: But from your vantage point, you know, what works in the classroom? Because I would imagine you have students, some of whom this is—they’re new to all this stuff, some of whom are students who come in who may be hostile to the issues you’re talking about.
LINDSAY: So how do you do it in the classroom?
GUTNER: So I think one of the great pedagogical techniques in teaching these topics is to have debates because these are contentious issues and we’re also working in a world of universities where there’s been a lot of issues about people being able to express themselves. And if you can’t argue in a classroom in a university, where can you argue?
So I do a whole monologue at the beginning that, you know, this is an atmosphere of respect, but within this atmosphere we can respectfully, violently—well, maybe you can’t use the word “violent”—(laughter)—we can—we respectfully disagree with each other, right?
So I have my students do a lot of debates about the actors and the issues. And when there’s time, I like them to debate the side they don’t agree with. And they love it. You know, you could—or just drill down into some of these issues, like we had an interesting debate last week on some powerful multinational corporations, major actors in global governance. And there was a pro and a con side of Patagonia. Who knew there was a con side, right? I mean, they didn’t, we didn’t know. I mean, there are—there are issues. So I think the use of debate is really important.
And for me when I teach these institutions of global governance, I wrote the book because I couldn’t find what I was looking for, which is something that both describe the history and, you know, what do they do. It takes a while to describe what the IMF does, to non-economists, what the WTO does, what they do, how they’ve evolved over time, what challenges they face. So I wrote something that has kind of those nuts and bolts with a case study of each organization that faculty can use to bring in other cases. So it’s a—you’re trying to teach the institutions, you’re trying to teach the issues, you’re trying to teach the debate, and it’s happening during your class.
So one other idea I have is maybe you can schedule things so that you can teach the IMF and World Bank during the spring meetings. Isn’t that a good time? Or you can teach the U.N. during the General Assembly in the fall. So some—and what’s great about me teaching in Washington, D.C. is I can—my students are going to the spring meetings, you know, they’re visiting them or in the past they would go protest or I would say, you know, you can protest or watch, just please don’t get arrested.
But, you know, to engage—and if you’re not in Washington, D.C., your students can follow these things through the webcasts. It’s all online. So it’s a—it’s a challenge to teach the theories and the content and the issues, but also the fact that we have these events happening while we’re teaching, which I don’t—I remembered happening in the global financial crisis. I mean, there are times, right, when the world hits you in the classroom, but it feels to me like there’s more of that happening now. And I’m interested to know if you agree with that.
LINDSAY: Stewart, what advice do you want to offer besides assigning The Sovereignty Wars out by Brookings Institution Press?
PATRICK: Right, that’s right. A couple of things. One of—one thing I think that is always wonderful in classrooms and I have taught as an adjunct and occasionally get asked to give guest lectures, I think people really like it when you provide historical context, because some of the things that we have seen now—for instance, if you’re talking about, you know, trade wars and protectionism, you might think, well, wow, let’s—what happened during the 1930s, or you—or you go back at a different time, or there are a lot of the debates now that are about sovereignty—and this is in my book—go back to really, in particular, the debate over the League of Nations, a lot of the same issues come up over and over again.
Another issue that I think is very useful is to try to expose students to foreign perspectives, not just the debates about different international relations schools, for instance, in the United States, but actually how concrete issues are thought about in other countries, and not necessarily adversarial countries, but ones where there’s a little bit of a different twist. Because I think, obviously, in addition to the junior-year-abroad experience where you really come back and you’re, like, wow, people out there don’t see us the way we see ourselves and isn’t that interesting—(laughter)—yet you also get—you can do that in the classroom, too, as well.
And that’s certainly something I’ve learned. We have this initiative of international network of think tanks called the Council of Councils. And when we get together, we have a frank and candid exchange of views about how the world looks from these different countries.
Just a couple other things really briefly. One of them is I have found that interactives can sometimes be very—multimedia, particularly for a younger generation, can be very compelling. We do—an advertisement here—we have produced something called the Global Governance Monitor which tries to map and evaluate international efforts to deal with global problems.
LINDSAY: How many Tellys and Webbys and whatever has it won?
PATRICK: Yeah, they’re not—sorry, they’re not—
LINDSAY: Stewart needs room just for his hardware.
PATRICK: —they’re not even Grammys—right, exactly. No. No, there are Tellys and Webbys and several other awards that have been given that we’ve received for these. No Emmys, although other CFR departments have won Emmys, which are very impressive.
LINDSAY: You’re going to get a crack at it, Stewart.
PATRICK: Yeah, exactly. And, yeah, the final thing I would say is it’s also—you mentioned the, you know, the frank and candid, like, the oppositional views and sort of, like, vigorous argumentation. I have found just in my own education that exposing yourself to people who you really, really don’t agree with is pretty interesting in terms of just refining your own views. And in my case, it was starting to read all the literature by these folks who are described as the new sovereigntists, people like John Yoo who worked at the White House during the George W. Bush administration and is a real hawk on sovereignty issues. He and a guy named Julian Ku wrote a great book, I mean, in terms of it captures the argument, called Taming Globalization and basically reconciling the Constitution with global—with global governance, with globalization. And I think that was—that’s always really entertaining. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: OK. I want to bring the rest of the room into the conversation right now. I’m going to ask you to wait until somebody—well, if you’d like to ask a question, make a point, raise your hand, number one. Number two, wait until one of the very fine people around the room brings you a microphone. I would ask you that if you get the microphone that you speak directly into it so everybody else can hear you.
And I remind everybody we’re doing this on the record. So this is like class, if you want to do it. That gentleman is the first brave person I saw, so you get to go first.
Q: Well, thank you. And thank you for the comments and for being here. It’s great.
LINDSAY: And you are?
Q: I’m David Hudgens from the University of South Carolina, the Darla Moore School of Business.
So my—I actually had a couple, but I’ll try to hone in on one, maybe even just what was just said. So if we look at the history and we kind of look at the world, its multipolarity, did you see it coming? Did you see it in the constitution of how we look at the world now? And kind of going back to the idea of the waves and the 15 percent, I think it was said, where are we now? And what do you see ahead in the sense of trade in tasks, artificial intelligence, and this left-behind notion? Does that—does that make sense? I’m just wanting your comments on that.
GUTNER: You’ve written about artificial intelligence, you can—
PATRICK: Yeah, let me—in terms of the multipolarity you were—that was the first thing you said—you know, I think that I don’t think I was quite as triumphalist as a lot of the folks who were riding high in the first term of the Bush administration thinking about, you know, having just an amazing hubris, I think, about how people could reorder, not just reorder the world in terms of its intrastate structure, but also actually change the domestic character of regimes.
I think that, you know, there were even people, you know, like Fareed Zakaria and others, who were writing about the very fast geopolitical shift that was—that was happening. I think there was an element to which the unipolar moment I think blinded a number of American analysts that that was going to occur.
In terms of artificial intelligence, one of the things that I think is going to be really interesting in terms of global governance is just we are increasingly facing technological innovations that are, you know, driven by things like Moore’s law that has, you know, computing power, you know, doubling every 18 months or so. And similar things are happening in the field of synthetic biology and now we have all sorts of new technologies like blockchain and people building microsatellites to go up into space, et cetera.
I think there’s a whole range of global governance challenges that are going to occur. We see it in debates over drones and whether or not, you know, the laws of war should apply to the use of those instruments. You see huge questions now about information warfare operations that are using social media. And so this notion that we are going to be moving towards a sort of technological utopia, which everybody seemed to buy into for a while, we now realize that we’re confronting a grave threat to our own democracy, conceivably, regardless of who’s, you know, the president in the White House, because this could happen regardless of stripe of party.
So, yeah, I’m not sure I answered the question totally.
GUTNER: And I can add something. I think it’s an especially difficult time to make predictions right now because we have the U.S. flipflopping, we don’t—it’s very hard to get a handle on, you know, what’s going to happen next month. You know, we look at the news every day and we’re—you know, raise your hand if you’re surprised by the headlines you’re seeing. So we have a lot of uncertainty there.
China’s moving in as a leader, but we don’t know what Chinese multilateral—we don’t have a full picture of it because there is hypocrisy there, right? And that’s one of the reasons I find the AIIB so interesting, is that in having state-of-the-art policies, these policies are all for transparency and accountability, and those are not things China is well-known for implementing. Right? So we don’t—we don’t know where that’s heading.
And with the EU right now, it’s not playing the global role that some people hope it should play. And the Brexit it still a big mess. So I find it an especially difficult time to predict where we’re going to be.
PATRICK: Yeah, just an addendum. I do think that it’s very interesting for people who are teaching global governance to take a look at the quadrennial, or every five years maybe, effort by the CIA, by the National Intelligence Council to come out with, you know, global trends 2025, global trends 20230, because that includes—that tries to distinguish between drivers, things that you know are happening, like demographic trends. And, you know, demography is destiny in some degree, right?
And if we know that—you know, and also patterns or urbanization and what’s—how much—you know, three-quarters of the population of the world is going to live in cities by, you know, 2050. So what does that do to international politics and international cooperation? I think there’s some things you can know and then you play out scenarios.
GUTNER: Right. And I actually teach that. So I have a week where we look at all the reports that are doing predictions, including that one, and they don’t agree with each other.
GUTNER: You know, there’s no consensus. Like, you can roll out a lot of predictions. I think it’s an especially tough time.
PATRICK: And now there are enough of them so that you can go back and you can say—
GUTNER: Have debates.
PATRICK: Exactly. So what you said—
LINDSAY: OK. We’re going to come here in the front if we can.
Q: Super. Thank you very much. My name is Nancy McEldowney. I’m at Georgetown University. I want to thank both of you for fantastic presentations.
Loved what you said and—full confession—agree with everything you said. So now that I’ve agreed with you, I’m going to play devil’s advocate and give you some of the hard questions that my students have been giving to me, picks up a little bit on the last question from our colleague.
The first one that I’m hearing from a lot of students, they’re more polite than this, but basically they said, how did we fail them? How did all of us with all of our collective wisdom and expertise and learning get it so wrong? How did we? It’s not just not that we didn’t predict accurately, but that we were caught unaware, collectively, for what happened. And that’s a question that comes up again and again. And so I just want to flag it for you.
And then there’s a related second question, which is, OK, so you didn’t do such a great job, you guys, us guys, so what about going forward and going forward in terms of, as we train and educate our students, the kinds of analytical skills, what is it that we didn’t give them before, that we didn’t get when we were going through our own academic training, that we need to make sure that they get? Whether it’s strategic forecasting or something else. Thank you.
GUTNER: Terrific. Can you be more clear? Who’s “we” and who’s “they?” You mean professors, scholars, and students? Or the U.N. and the world? You know, who?
Q: Yeah, well, the critics I’m putting as the students and the “us” is the collective kind of—the term that they use is sort of the elite, the ruling elite from academics, practitioners, policymakers who failed—I won’t say predict because nobody can really do that—but to anticipate adequately? And the related question is, are we continuing to fail to anticipate and to prepare our students?
PATRICK: Yes. I mean, it’s interesting if I—I mean, because I’m just thinking about it. What do we fail? OK, we, generally speaking—and I will say, like, members of the government, but also people who—but also, I think, many professors as well, you know, failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to anticipate the Arab Spring, failed to anticipate what the Arab Spring would lead to.
PATRICK: Brexit—failed to—failed to explain or failed to anticipate that China would not in fact become more politically open over time. Failed, too, on a lot of—a lot academics involved as well, the Iraq weapons of mass destruction issue, global financial crisis. So you’re right, there are a number of different cases.
Now, some of those are because, in some cases, maybe we lacked certain specialized knowledge. Maybe it was that there were some people, voices crying in the wilderness in some of these cases, and they just simply weren’t listened to.
But I’m going to have to think a little bit—
GUTNER: Well, we’re not trained—we’re not trained to predict, are we?
Q: Yeah, we’re not trained.
GUTNER: You know, there are people doing that and they’re working, what you were saying, you know, strategic prediction, forecasting. But, you know, traditional degrees in foreign policy or international relations, we’re not trained. So it’s a—it’s a very interesting topic, you know. How do we get trained? What does that training look like? How does that impact our scholarship?
There are a lot—you know, my students are always surprised when they’re reading articles and books by scholars that the scholars aren’t providing any answers. You know, they’re explaining a problem and they’re, like, well, so I ask them to write critical analysis and they say, well, they didn’t—they didn’t tell us what to do. And I said, but that’s—(laughter)—that’s not what they do, that’s not what scholars do. You know, they’re explaining something, but they’re not regularly building those bridges to making policy recommendations. And that’s just part of how we’re trained.
PATRICK: Yeah. I think also people are often sort of having battles between—interdisciplinary battles between sort of causal claim or sort of different types of theories and they aren’t necessarily always applicable to sort of real life or to some of the main policy dilemmas that policymakers will face.
I also think that sometimes, certainly in the case of when I think about, you know, the Iraq assumptions or the Arab Spring assumptions, a lot of it has to do with policymakers and, to some degree, academics who are writing about it who didn’t have the requisite area knowledge, is my—is my—is my thought.
LINDSAY: I want to go to the back of the room, the gentleman with the beard. I’m a big fan of beards. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you. Todd Robinson, I teach at the Air War College.
It’s a different experience teaching military personnel for a number of reasons, including that you often say things that you don’t of yourself. So one of the conversations I’ve had with my students is on this issue of global governance and the U.S.-led order and the rules and norms that we’ve established over time. And one of the conversations that I had recently was basically a student saying that, well, it’s our right to withdraw from these institutions if we feel like it doesn’t benefit us because these institutions were designed to benefit us. My response is, well, that’s not exactly the case, but I understand what you’re saying. And he’s, like, let me finish. The rejoinder is that if it benefits us, then it benefits the rest of the world. So how do you reconcile those two things, those two arguments? And how would you teach that?
GUTNER: I think you just said it, right? I mean, I really like to use Ikenberry’s work on After Victory, that these institutions lock in an order that benefited the U.S. and its leadership, a set of rules and a set of norms, a set of policies and a set of ideas, but it’s not a free ride. Right? You have—there are—it also restrains you. So there are issues of what the benefits are and what the costs are.
And in many cases, you can find that the benefits outweigh the costs, not always, but it’s not—it’s not a simple, you know, we’re not getting what we want. Well, what does that mean? So if we leave, then we have to negotiate separately with 192 countries. Are we going to get what we want that way? We might save money not contributing to the budget of this organization, but then we won’t be part of the pooled resources that are doing things around the world that make us more secure.
So I—I kind of—you know, you can get down to a very simple cost/benefit analysis, but it quickly makes you realize that there are benefits to collective global public goods that you can’t get as easily bilaterally.
PATRICK: Yeah, I would say that, you know, I would agree with the argument that your student made that we have a sovereign right to leave international treaties or organizations if we so desire and our elected leaders agree to do that. If you have—you remain sovereign if you have the opportunity of exit. And I—and I think that’s always important to bear in mind.
But I agree with Tammi that in a large majority of cases the advantages of collective action can outweigh. Now, not in every case. And there are—you can have reasonable arguments with people over, you know, issues of was it wise for the United States to withdraw from the—or excuse me, not join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, for instance. You can have arguments over issues of the International Criminal Court, for instance, where you actually have a sacrifice of authoritative sovereignty in that body that would—it would be a profound infringement upon aspects of U.S. constitutional structure or at least authority under the Constitution. It might be worth it, but it would be a pretty profound change.
LINDSAY: But it’s also worth noting in the case of the ICC there are countries not named the United States that have withdrawn because they don’t think it works—
PATRICK: Right, exactly.
LINDSAY: —or works properly. And likewise, in some of these organizations, it’s not just the case of the United States sort of not getting what it wants, but looking at its partner nations and believing that they’re not contributing what they’re supposed to.
I would note, just, I mean, NATO is the classic example here. There have been a succession of American presidents, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, who have turned to Europe and say this is a collective security organization, but you are not investing in collective security. And in that case, I think, to go back to your students, it is legitimate to ask whether that bargain struck decades ago still makes sense and it takes two to tango and all this.
PATRICK: Yeah, very much so.
LINDSAY: Sir, you’re next. Yes, be bold and stand up and seize the microphone. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you. Tom Lee with Pomona College in the politics department.
I have two questions.
LINDSAY: One question you get. We’ve got to stick to one question. I want to bring more people in the conversation.
Q: OK. So I’m hearing a lot of where China is filling in the void that you’ve mentioned a couple of times, but is there an assumption that they’re going to bat 1,000 for a long time because they’re going to have growing pains as well. For instance, in Southeast Asia and Africa and Latin America where they have a lot of investments, they’ve been able to build a lot of roads, but not so much good will and we’re beginning to see resistance.
So if China is not able to fill the void or Russia or Europe and the United States is stepping back, then, really, are we losing control and, you know, other actors can fill in where we don’t need, like, an absolute American-led kind of global order?
PATRICK: Yeah. Can I—can I jump on that? A couple of things. I think you’re right in terms of, you know, there was this expectation that through the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Africa initiatives and investments that this was going to buy political influence. And to some degree and in some countries, particularly authoritarian countries, I think it has, but it’s also built a lot of resentment, particularly in countries that have an imperial past, right, and are—and also the terms of—I mean, this is partly—the Belt and Road is partly an effort to export Chinese excess labor and excess productive capacity. So that, at least in part, is what’s going on.
With respect to, you know, what do you get if you don’t have sort of a hegemonic—and I think we have to say the United States has been hegemonic in a degree. I think what we have to do is we have to surrender that hegemonic presumption. That requires a certain psychological adjustment on the part of Americans, Democratic and Republican, who have considered themselves the indispensable power.
LINDSAY: But will the order be sustained if there is no hegemon?
PATRICK: You know, I think—I think we are moving towards a shallower international order that—I mean, call it concert 2.0, right, that basically there is—I think there still will be sort of a Western core, I think Donald Trump has weakened that, but I think there will be a core of advanced market democracies still that will have a greater degree of sort of normative solidarity. I hope so. But all of that’s been weakened quite a bit, particularly as a president who has basically disavowed the pursuit of human rights and democracy promotion as a—as a—as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.
But with respect to, I think—I think—I think we just are—it’s just going to be, with respect to the broader range of countries, I think it’s going to be—it’s going to be a more regionally focused set of orders. And obviously, the debate in Asia is the degree to which that order will be dominated by China or whether or not the United States through its security arrangements and also its continued economic links actually acts as a balancer to prevent China from dominating its immediate environment.
LINDSAY: OK. We have a lot of hands in the air, so I’m going to ask people to keep their questions short and ask the panelists to give quick responses.
We’re going to go all the way to the back, the person furthest in the back. Stand up, seize the microphone, ask a question.
Everybody is very polite, usually they’re fighting over the microphone.
Q: Wow, thank you very much. My name is Len Anyanwu, I teach economics at the School of Business at Union County College.
I know you don’t want us to ask a lot of questions. I do have a lot of questions, but let me just ask one—
LINDSAY: Very good.
Q: —in the interests of making sure that everybody else gets a chance. Some people believe that much of the global power dynamics is shifting away from the regular institutions, the U.N., IMF, World Bank and whatnot, to private, corporate, as well as individuals. Organizations like Facebook probably has a much, much, much more farther reach to people around the world than perhaps U.N. or IMF can claim to do today.
A person like Bill Gates, another individual, just one individual, one man, in my view, has a lot more reach, more influence, especially in places where such power and influence is needed, in Africa for example. I mean, can you speak to that? I mean, do you see anything there?
LINDSAY: Do you want to take a crack at that, Tammi?
GUTNER: So I don’t think power shifting is a zero-sum game. You know, I don’t think just because we have some new, very powerful multinational corporations that’s necessarily siphoning power, you know, directly competing with institutions like the World Bank. And also, we’ve had those powerful corporations forever, right? There’s always—there have been many of them in the past decades.
I think what’s more interesting now to look at is a trend that we haven’t brought up yet tonight, which is the growing role of partnerships, public-private partnerships. Partnership is the new fashion in global governance, everybody is partnering with everybody. You know, if you look at any corporation’s website, they have partners with NGOs, with social-corporate, corporate-social responsibility. The World Bank is doing public-private partnerships. The IDA, the, you know, International Development Association—
LINDSAY: It’s also Institute for Defense Analysis. (Laughter.)
GUTNER: They have their new private sector window. So there’s—this is one of the new trends. And I think it’s ubiquitous. And I’m sure someone can say, well, it’s not new either, but we’re seeing more of it. Everybody is partnering with everybody. And I haven’t seen a lot of analysis about what this means. I know there are some people that are skeptical that it’s not, you know, a panacea, but there might be some very positive outcomes. But I think—I think we all have to keep an eye on that.
PATRICK: Yeah. A related trend, if I may really quickly, is the tendency towards—moving towards minilateralism or sort of competing parallel structures of often informal minilateral structures. And it’s a topic and I wrote about about a year ago in a new journal called Global Summitry, but it basically looks at informal, nonbinding, often transient methods of international cooperation.
LINDSAY: I’m going to stay in the back of the room. The young lady who I thought I was calling on last time, you get your chance now.
Q: I’m Toja Okoh. I’m a historian. I don’t know how many other historians are in the room. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: We like historians.
Q: Particularly an African historian. And so I find this conversation and often conversations about international relations and, you know, sort of these interdisciplinary conversations a little frustrating in the sense that there seems to be a sort of trend or sort of a need to project or look into the future and we very rarely look to the past for answers and to understand how we might find solutions for the future.
There’s a sort of—there’s a Ghanaian saying or symbol, sankofa, look to the past to understand the present in order to see the future. And I wonder to what extent we really do need to sort of think about readjusting our paradigms based on some of our understandings of our sort of colonial pasts and the ways in which capitalism and sort of the global order sort of rests on some imperial trajectories and structures and to really sort of destabilize this notion that we have sovereignty and nation and those kinds of those things are themselves constructions and, in a sense, they’re in crisis right now precisely because they are constructions.
LINDSAY: Which of you wants to tackle?
GUTNER: That’s a comment, not a question. (Applause.) That’s a great comment, yeah.
PATRICK: Yeah. I’ll just—I’ll just say that I think that in the work on sovereignty that I did, it became clear as I was reading and educating myself about it the degree to which, you know, sovereignty, it’s sort of, in all the textbooks on international relationships it says, you know, 1648, it was almost like Moses handed down sovereignty—(laughter)—at the Peace of Westphalia. But, you know, as you well know, it was a model that was exported with considerable violence to many other parts of the world. So part of the crisis of global governance and part of the crisis of domestic governance around the world, not least in Africa, is a result of countries that were—whose borders were drawn up in the Africa Congress or Congo Conference in 1885, and living with that reality, without any regard necessarily, at least in the first instance, to economic viability or political cohesion of those units. And I think that we’re still living with that, to some degree.
LINDSAY: OK. We have time for one last question if it’s quick and my panelists are quick in response.
So, yes, ma’am, you get the last question.
Q: Hi. I’m Libbie Prescott from Georgetown University.
And my question is going to be quick, but I don’t know if the answer will be. When you think about technology, do you see it as being a symptom or a driver in this global change in governance? And I think, sort of linking back to my colleague’s previous question, is the Westphalian world the exception, or is that going to be the norm that we can continue to reinforce, despite the technological changes?
GUTNER: Well, technology can be many things. And we could talk about that all day, right? We can—we can come up with, you know, a hundred different categories.
What interests me now is seeing its role, in some ways, as a facilitator and in some ways—so, for example, you know, NGOs around the world, they have these email lists and they can—they can immediately share their campaigns with everyone and come up with a unified response. And they’re really working that, they’re really on top of that. So I think it’s bringing people together in different ways, but it’s also spreading information in different and new ways that we’re grappling with.
So that’s not a quick answer, that’s not a—I think it’s multifaceted and hard to pin down.
PATRICK: Yeah. I’d say that—and in full disclosure, Libbie has actually been helping us out on our technology working group. You know, I think a driver, to some degree, I mean, if necessity is the mother of invention, then inventions, in a sense, maybe give birth to global governance or at least the need for global governance. And so a lot of the problems that we’re finding now are a result of the fact that, wow, what do we do with these new technologies and gee-wiz things that can, like, create, you know, incredible medical potentiality for pinpoint, you know, diagnosis and treatment, but then could also be used to create some really nasty bugs out there? And so we have to worry about that.
And, yeah, I mean, artificial intelligence, for instance, which has just tremendous capabilities to make our lives so much easier, but artificial intelligence, like human intelligence, is dual use. Right? We can use it for ill as well as good. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: Well, on that note, I think that both Tammi and Stewart have given you a lot of food for thought. I believe now we’re going to actually give you food for your plates. But please join me in thanking Tammi and Stewart for an excellent conversation. (Applause.)