Dispatch from the G20: Near-term promise and longer-term trouble
by Ian Bremmer The growing vulnerabilities of emerging markets to social upheaval and state failure as a result of the financial crisis is probably the most significant risk the world will face this year. That’s why last week’s G20 decision to significantly expand funding for the International Monetary Fund was so important — and part of why ...
by Ian Bremmer
The growing vulnerabilities of emerging markets to social upheaval and state failure as a result of the financial crisis is probably the most significant risk the world will face this year. That’s why last week’s G20 decision to significantly expand funding for the International Monetary Fund was so important — and part of why the meeting itself was successful. This success is especially obvious once we accept the limits of what this forum can really accomplish. An urgent call for help was answered, but there was never any real chance that leaders would use this meeting to remake the international financial and economic order in a way that genuinely reflects the shift of recent years in the global balance of political and economic power.
But the seeds have been planted for longer-term problems. Chinese President Hu Jintao said very little during the event but was given an enormous level of respect by the other G20 participants and the media. This reflects the reality that many are now ready to accept China as a superpower. For the near term, this change will prove useful, because China has the money to help fund existing international financial institutions shepherd vulnerable countries through their domestic economic problems. But longer-term, it may become a problem, because China isn’t fully ready to play this role and because China’s leaders have fundamental disagreements with the leaders of other powerful states on how the global economic system should be governed.
Looking ahead, the broader promise of a G20 remaking the international order for long-term sustainability remains unrealistic. Reimagining the architecture of any multinational effort — not just of financial institutions but of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the composition of the United Nations Security Council, efforts to stop the international flow of illegal drugs, agreement on a single definition of “terrorism,” a successor to the Kyoto protocols that will have a meaningful impact on climate change, and other difficult issues. That’s just not possible in today’s geopolitical environment.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World With Ian Bremmer. Twitter: @ianbremmer
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