The Liberal World Order Does Not Exist - Niall Ferguso

14 September 2019

If the liberal world order ever existed at all, there is no point discussing it now, Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University has said.

He expressed this opinion during a debate with CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS presenter Fareed Zakaria at the 16th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting "Happiness Now. New Approaches for a World in Crisis" organised by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

"The question we should ask ourselves is: has there ever been a liberal international order? This is what Voltaire once said about the Holy Roman Empire: 'It was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.' I think if we look at the last 50 years of our history, the question will arise: is it liberal, is it international or is it even an order?" he said.

According to Niall Ferguson, international institutions such as the UN, IMF and World Bank have not been playing a major role in maintaining global stability. In fact, this role was previously played by military alliances created and maintained by superpowers, such as NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

"After 1945, it was not the UN or any of its affiliates that were in control. This organisation was paralysed by the rivalry of the great powers. The dominant institutions were the military alliances of the superpowers - NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The reason there were fewer conflicts after 1945 is not the IMF or the UN or the WTO. Rather it is the fact that the USA had by that time reached military supremacy," Ferguson said.

He suggested that by accepting China into the WTO, the USA made a huge geopolitical mistake.

"The USA has allowed another country to reach a level that threatens American supremacy. Eventually, they saw that China armed and equipped itself. It has become a superpower and can now control its entire population, deploy cyberwarfare against any other state, including the United States, and challenge USA supremacy around the world. So much for a fairy tale about the international liberal system!" Ferguson added.

According to the historian, a Cold War has already begun between the USA and China. "The reality of our time is that a new Cold War has already begun, and it is not just a trade, technological war, neither it is just a dispute over the South China Sea. The USA and China have launched a new Cold War that is held in cyberspace and beyond!" he concluded.

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Yuval Harari
Yuval Harari
Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 16th YES Annual Meeting, 2019
«Our global problems demand global solutions.»