What Is the International Community?

"We are supported by the collective will of the world," declared U.S. President George W. Bush as he launched the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in October 2001. For many people, that collective will has a name: the "international community." This feel-good phrase evokes a benevolent, omniscient entity that makes decisions and takes action for ...

"We are supported by the collective will of the world," declared U.S. President George W. Bush as he launched the war against Afghanistan's Taliban regime in October 2001. For many people, that collective will has a name: the "international community." This feel-good phrase evokes a benevolent, omniscient entity that makes decisions and takes action for the benefit of all countries and peoples. But invoking the international community is a lot easier than defining it. Foreign Policy invited nine notable thinkers, activists, journalists, and policymakers from across the ideological spectrum to survey the international community and tell us what they see. Does such a community truly exist? If so, who is part of it? Who isn’t? Whose values does it reflect? And perhaps most important, how does it work? How should it work?

"We are supported by the collective will of the world," declared U.S. President George W. Bush as he launched the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in October 2001. For many people, that collective will has a name: the "international community." This feel-good phrase evokes a benevolent, omniscient entity that makes decisions and takes action for the benefit of all countries and peoples. But invoking the international community is a lot easier than defining it. Foreign Policy invited nine notable thinkers, activists, journalists, and policymakers from across the ideological spectrum to survey the international community and tell us what they see. Does such a community truly exist? If so, who is part of it? Who isn’t? Whose values does it reflect? And perhaps most important, how does it work? How should it work?

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