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Fixing a broken global order: Is it too late?

Claire Zalla
Yale MacMillan Center

This discussion was organized by the American Academys New Haven Program Committee, chaired by Frances McCall Rosenbluth, and the Yale MacMillan Center.

On November 7, esteemed panelists in a packed Henry R. Luce Hall this past Thursday were tasked with answering two monumental questions: can we fix the broken global order, and if so, how?

Panelists, representing diverse schools of thought from economics and history to political science, presented their ideas, and then the floor was opened for questions. Throughout the conversation, there was a distinct undercurrent of uncertainty about the present state of global affairs and concern for the future. The assembly discussed topics including overpopulation, international institutions, popular empowerment, and domestic inequality, but above all the rise of China was on everyone’s mind.

The panelists who took on the challenge of solving the world’s problems were Paul Michael Kennedy, OBE, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director of International Security Studies; Samuel S. Kortum, James Burrows Moffatt Professor of Economics; Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science; Jing Tsu, John W. Schiff Professor of Modern Chinese Studies & Comparative Literature and Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies; and Arne Westad, Professor of History at Yale University.

Many of the panelists questioned the premise of the discussion: is the global order broken or simply shifting to a state of affairs we find unfamiliar and uncomfortable? If this is indeed the case and the solution isn’t “fixing,” how should countries, and crucially the United States, reorient themselves to address future challenges?

The conversation centered on a perceived loss of American power and a dissolution of the liberal world order in the face of China’s rise and domestic challenges including inequality. At the end of the discussion, though, the panelists considered for whom are we trying to fix the world? While inequality in America has grown, global inequality has decreased and people all over the world are being pulled out of poverty. When we consider the state of affairs, a world order having less economic inequality is not a bad thing.

View full story: Yale MacMillan Center