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Mon May 7, 2012, 10:28 AM

Every Nation for Itself: Six Questions for Ian Bremmer ( Harper's - Scott Horton )

The world is quickly being reshaped, writes political economist Ian Bremmer. America established itself as the paramount power following the collapse of Communism, but the emerging system is one in which no nation or group of nations stands out as its leader. What will this mean for the global economy and for conflict in the near future? In Every Nation for Itself, Bremmer looks at the world forming now and sees glimmers of hope, but a somber future. I put six questions to him about his new book.

1. We have the G–7, the G–8, and the G–20—explain how you came up with the idea of the G-Zero?

Simply put, the G–7 and the G–20 no longer reflect the world we live in—each for their own reasons. After the financial crisis of 2008, it was clear that the G–7 was too narrow to solve the problem—the United States and its allies alone could not stem a crisis that was impacting so much of the world. The result was an empowered G–20, in which a lot more players with a lot more voices briefly came together to provide global leadership. This moment of coordination proved to be fleeting—the G–20’s component nations only worked together as long as there was a looming crisis that affected them to a similar degree, and for a similar duration.

When the dust settled, we saw the fundamental shift occurring today: the West is riddled with debt and less capable of providing global leadership, while emerging markets like China have proven resilient and increasingly important on a global scale. Yet those markets remain unwilling to set an international agenda as they focus, first and foremost, on the domestic growing pains that come with development.

So if the G–7 can function but doesn’t reflect the global balance of power, and the G–20 is representative but cannot function, what do we have left? I call it the G–Zero: a volatile period during which no country or group of countries can set the global agenda and solve the world’s most pressing problems. We need answers on global concerns like climate change, the availability of food and water, nuclear proliferation, and international security. In the G–Zero, we’re not going to get them.

in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2012/05/hbc-90008577

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