It Is Time for Multipolarity

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KU LEUVEN
FACULTEIT SOCIALE WETENSCHAPPEN MASTER OF SCIENCE IN DE VERGELIJKENDE EN INTERNATIONALE POLITIEK

It Is Time For Multipolarity
An Empirical Answer to Ikenberry

Prof. Dr. B. KERREMANS International Political Economy November 12, 2012

By P. B.

It is Time For Multipolarity – An Empirical Answer to Ikenberry In the article “the liberal international order and its discontents” (Ikenberry, 2010), the author argues about the current global crisis. The author states that it is not a crisis of the principles and organizational logic of the order but a crisis of American (US) authorities and its ultipolar hegemonic position within this order. This article tries to find empirical evidence for this claim while it seeks for answers to the following questions; What is the current position of the US in the international liberal order, to what extent is this liberal international order in crisis and is the world ready for a more multipolar approach of this liberal international order? To find an answer to these questions the article will first specify several concepts that are related to the current position of the US within the order and the multipolar approach of international politics. Furthermore, the conclusion will give an answer to the questions mentioned above. The Status Quo of the American-led International order The international liberal order is an open-rule based system with the focus on expanding forms of institutional cooperation (Ikenberry, 2010). To indicate the position of the US within this system, this article uses four important international political aspects: economic progress, governance, law and security. For each aspect a graph will show the position of the US compared with potential counterweighted states, who are greatly in need of rethinking the areas mentioned above: BRICS and the European Union (EU). Economic Welfare The GDP (PPP) is a common measure for the total national economic activity of a state. It is not a measure for the average standard of living; however there can be state that the GDP (PPP) measures this concept indirectly. If a change in the GDP is detected, it could have a significant impact on the standard of living of a state.

1.1 GDP (PPP) share of world total (in percent 2011)
(IMF
 World
 Economic
 Outlook
 Database,
 2012)
 

25
  20
  15
  10
  5
  0
  US
  Brazil
 Russia
  India
  China
  South
  EU
  Africa
 
(Figures may not add up due to the conventions of rounding)

GDP
 (PPP)
 share
 of
 world
  total
 (in
 percent)
 

 

2
 

In figure 1.1 can be seen that China, the EU and the US have the biggest world share total in GDP (PPP). For this reason, these particular players are seen as the most potential economic powers of the 21st century. The EU exists of many different states with all different GDP’s. However, summed-up it is another big player in the game, which was the meaning of its founding fathers. Besides, the BRICS are considered as fast-emerging economic states. Even after the bank and agency rate fraud crisis of the US in 2008 (Ferguson, 2010), it still has a powerful position in world economics. Nevertheless, the worldview on the US its financial status changed drastically. International Governance In the past 60 years, the international liberal order showed off its potential with the increase of memberships and interaction in various international organizations and institutions. Figure 1.2 shows the increase of memberships after the collapse of the communistic Soviet-Union in the 90s. The fastemerging BRICS countries were all founding members of these institutions. Recently, these states intercommunicate to reformate the United Nations (UN) in relation to the veto-power of the big five and the lack of democracy experienced. Further, Russia became a member of the WTO, which is known for its liberal trade policies, in June 2012. The US has a...
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