Sample Materials of SSC CGL (Tier -3) Study Kit
Topic: The world the twenty-first century.
A significant intellectual advance in the discussion of
democratic peace theory and the future of liberal ideas and institutions. After
a century dominated by the struggle between liberal societies and their
illiberal communist and fascist opponents, the importance of liberal ideology in
international relations can hardly be doubted. Whether liberal politics and
liberal economics will dominate the twenty-first century is one of the most
important questions facing policymakers as they peer into their murky crystal
balls. Mandelbaum makes a striking contribution to this discussion by broadening
the concept of liberal society. Liberal political institutions and liberal
economic practices are conventionally used to define a liberal order; Mandelbaum
adds liberal security arrangements as a third, equally vital element for this
order. Liberal security, in essence, requires among countries a structure of
military and political agreements so dense that each member state can be
confident about the capacities of the others. In this kind of system, which now
exists in western and central Europe, nations are confident that their neighbors
are unable to overturn the existing strategic balance. Such an order, Mandelbaum
argues, is solid and stable enough to give states every security assurance that
hard-nosed realists might demand. Liberal security policy — the origins of which
Mandelbaum traces to Woodrow Wilson’s program at the Versailles Conference —
adds an important dimension to the arguments for democratic peace.
Mandelbaum is also to be commended for an epistemological
modesty too rare in his field. For offensive realists, war is inevitable because
it is hard-wired into the nature of the international system. Liberals have
similarly sought to develop rigorous chains of logic to show the contrary. More
effectively, Mandelbaum concludes that the twenty-first century will very likely
see the continuing advance of liberal order. His reasoning is open to dispute at
many points, but even those who disagree with his analysis will find much to
admire in its clarity, consistency, and comprehensiveness.
The distribution of global power is fast changing. That much
is certain. China and other developing nations are quickly ascending the pecking
order. Meanwhile, the three pillars of the Western world - the United States,
Europe, and Japan - are beset by a prolonged economic downturn and disaffected
electorates. But despite widespread recognition of the changing global
landscape, opinions differ widely as to which country will emerge on top. As the
twenty-first century unfolds, who will lead the pack?
Many analysts foresee a twenty-first century that will belong
to China, whose decades of impressive economic growth make its steady rise seem
unstoppable. Most American politicians, with the backing of commentators such as
Robert Kagan and Robert Lieber, are quick to dismiss the prospects for a
changing of the guard, insisting that U.S. hegemony is alive and well. They
contend that the U.S. economy will snap back and that America’s military
superiority is untouchable. The dark horse candidates are India and Brazil.
India will have the world’s largest population by about 2025, while Brazil is
blessed with abundant resources and a benign geopolitical environment. Both have
democratic governments that may give them the legitimacy and good governance
needed to make it to the top.
The absence of consensus over which country will oversee the
coming world is just as it should be. That’s because the twenty-first century
will not be dominated by any country. The United States will do just fine, but
the era of Western primacy is coming to an end. Meanwhile, none of the world’s
rising nations will have the combination of material and ideological strength
needed to exercise global hegemony. And although ascending nations have forged a
new grouping - the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) - to
coordinate their policies and aggregate their muscle, they do not share a
coherent vision of what comes next. They know what they do not want: the
continuation of a world dominated by the West. But they are very unlikely to
arrive at a common view of what they want instead. This century will not belong
to the United States, China, India, Brazil, or anyone else; it will be no one’s
The United States, due to its economic resilience, rising
population, and military superiority, will make it into the top ranks for
decades to come. Nonetheless, the supremacy that the United States and its
Western allies have enjoyed since World War II is fast fading. During the second
half of the twentieth century, the Western allies usually accounted for over
two-thirds of global output. They now provide about half of global output - and
soon much less.
In 2010, four out of the top five economies in the world came
from the developed West - the United States, Japan, Germany, and France. Only
one developing country - China, at number two - qualified for this exclusive
club. In 2050, according to Goldman Sachs, the United States will be the only
Western power to make it into the top five. China will be number one, followed -
at a significant distance — by the United States, India, Brazil, and Russia.
Key aspects of this reordering are poised to occur sooner
rather than later. China’s wealth is expected to surpass that of the United
States by the second half of the next decade. The World Bank foresees the
dollar, euro, and China’s renminbi as co-equals in a “multi-currency” monetary
system by 2025. Goldman Sachs predicts that the collective GDP of the top four
developing countries — Brazil, China, India, and Russia(BRIC) - will match that
of today’s leading industrialized nations by 2032. The United States will no
doubt find its way out of the ongoing slump. But it will bounce back into a
global economy in the midst of a dramatic change in the pecking order.
If China is poised to sit atop the global economy, why not
expect a Chinese century? The appeal of China’s brand of state capitalism - its
competence and performance - is offset by its lack of democratic legitimacy.
China’s success also depends on assets that many other countries lack - a
communitarian ethic with deep roots in Confucian culture, a meritocratic
leadership and bureaucracy, a vast labor pool, and a top-notch industrial and
transportation infrastructure. Moreover, although Beijing will surely seek to
extend its sway in its own neighborhood, China’s ethnocentrism suggests that its
hegemonic aspirations may well be only regional, not global, in scope.
Like China, India has an expansive labor pool at its
disposal. And its embrace of democracy gives India an international appeal that
China lacks. But India’s democratic institutions are also a liability. Lethargic
bureaucracies, social stratification, biting inequality, and striking linguistic
and ethnic diversity make the Indian government weak and ineffective; New Delhi
enjoys none of Beijing’s purposeful efficiency. Indeed, India’s private sector
has thrived in spite of, not because of, its democratic institutions. The lack
of good governance will ensure that India’s rise is slow and bumpy.
India also resides in a dangerous neighborhood that will hem
in its geopolitical ascent. Rivalry and territorial disputes with China, overt
hostility from Pakistan, and proximity to Afghanistan and Iran will constrain
New Delhi’s statecraft and prevent India from straying too far from home.
Brazil is in important respects best set to emerge as a
global trendsetter. It is a stable democracy, blessed with ample, land, labor,
and natural resources. At least for now, Brasilia has found a developmental path
that combines economic openness with redistribution programs aimed at
alleviating inequality. And Brazil faces no geopolitical rivals and resides in a
region that has been remarkably free of inter-state war.
But Brazil is not headed for the top ranks; its economy is
expected to be five times smaller than that of China in 2050. And Brazil’s
benign location in South America cuts both ways. Its relative isolation will
enable Brasilia to remain aloof from the fray set to ensue in Eurasia and the
western Pacific as China, India, Russia, and Indonesia ascend. But its distance
will also limit its influence in this geopolitical heartland. Brazil is destined
for regional hegemony, not global ambition.
Each of the world’s main emerging powers is following its
unique developmental path and pursuing its own interests, at least for now
making the BRICS grouping little more than a talk-shop. Its summits regularly
produce calls for a more equitable and representative global order. But BRICS
members have yet to articulate, either individually or collectively, what that
order might look like. And if and when these nations do fashion their own
visions of a new global architecture, they would likely prove disparate and
incompatible, denying “the rising rest” a consensus capable of coordinating
At least during this decade and the next, the United States
will have more say than the BRICS in managing the coming redistribution in
global power. But instead of fighting against the inevitable tide of change and
seeking to extend the era of U.S. hegemony, Washington would be much wiser to
help guide no one’s world toward new forms of collective governance and
cooperation. Widening the circle and peacefully arriving at the next world by
design is far preferable to a competitive anarchy arrived at by default as
multiple centers of power and the differing conceptions of order they represent
vie for primacy.