Daniel W. Drezner

The global governance of apocalypses

I see that after seeing 2012, Blake Hounshell as assigned me with a blog task:  What is the proper forum for secret doomsday planning? The G-20? The U.N. Security Council? The P5+1 or the EU3 +3? Every country for itself? Mssrs. Drezner and Walt, I’m counting on you to chime in here. I certainly can’t ...

I see that after seeing 2012, Blake Hounshell as assigned me with a blog task

What is the proper forum for secret doomsday planning? The G-20? The U.N. Security Council? The P5+1 or the EU3 +3? Every country for itself? Mssrs. Drezner and Walt, I’m counting on you to chime in here.

I certainly can’t speak for Steve, but it’s worth pointing out here how big the mismatch is between how movies think end-of-the-world global governance looks like as compared to what would happen in the real world. 

When the movies do it — and here I’m thinking about Deep Impact, The Core, Children of Men, etc. — there’s usually a coterie of Really Smart People, or a Council of Elders, or some other expert-driven body that devises a risky but brilliant plan to solve the problem. 

In the real world… well, I suspect the following would be true:

  • There would be initial and profound disagreement among experts over what precisely to do;
  • After a scientific consensus began to emerge, dissenters would go back to their home governments to lobby for political support 
  • There would be rampant suspicion of any multilateral effort by those asked to make an outsized contribution;
  • The cost overruns… oh, the cost overruns;
  • Conspiracy theories would pop up all over the friggin’ place
  • The plan wouldn’t work.

That said, I suspect the answer to Blake’s question is "none of the above."  Unless the End of the World matched perfectly onto a pre-existing international organization, my hunch is that the great powers would start up something de novo

Of course, if I actually knew the answer and was one of those Really Smart Persons tapped to solve the problem… well, then you’e all royally screwed. 

UPDATE:  Given my pessimism about the global governance of the End of Days, what can you do to prepare?  Click here to find out.  My favorite quote:  "Make a list of friends and family who live nearby, then decide who you want with you."

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner