Wednesday, April 2, 2014

While waiting on the April G20 Meeting

Here is an article some may find of interest. This is an article by Stewart Partrick which appeared in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. This is a publication put out by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The article is not primarily about the IMF. It discusses the general state of global governance institutions in general with emphasis on the UN. It does however mention the stalled IMF reforms as part of the article. 

I won't do an indepth commentary on this article. Instead I would point out the overall tone of the article which is one of disappointment with the trend in global governance. Many times we have a picture of these somewhat elite global governing institutions as a monolithic power bloc that comes together as one force to basically run things. 

While they clearly do have tremendous influence, we can see from this article that the reality is that they break down into bickering factions as often or more as they come together. This should kept in mind when looking at any future plans or goals these organizations may have.

While they can potentially come together on issues and implement plans, more often they spend a lot of time arguing and looking after their individual self interests. This can prevent plans from ever being implemented. Or significantly delay plans.

For example, if the IMF is unable to get their reforms passed, it will be difficult for the IMF to implement any kind of global reserve currency in the future. While it appears this is a high priority event, it still has not happened 4 years after the reforms were submitted for approval. And we see the BRIC nations are becoming more vocal in their insistence that the reforms be passed indicating they are losing some patience.

Below is a segment from the article which illustrates how someone inside the establishment views the progress of global governance. It shows that they are a long ways from being a united governing force. And don't expect to it to become one in the future. Something to keep in mind when you hear that some grand plan by "the elites" will be implemented.


"While campaigning for president in 2008, Barack Obama pledged to renovate the dilapidated multilateral edifice the United States had erected after World War II. He lionized the generation of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and George Marshall for creating the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, and NATO. Their genius, he said, was to recognize that "instead of constraining our power, these institutions magnified it." But the aging pillars of the postwar order were creaking and crumbling, Obama suggested, and so "to keep pace with the fast-moving threats we face," the world needed a new era of global institution building.

Five years into Obama's presidency, little progress has been made on that front, and few still expect it. Formal multilateral institutions continue to muddle along, holding their meetings and issuing their reports and taking some minor stabs at improving transnational problems at the margins. Yet despite the Obama administration's avowed ambition to integrate rising powers as full partners, there has been no movement to reform the composition of the UN Security Council to reflect new geopolitical realities. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is comatose, NATO struggles to find its strategic purpose, and the International Energy Agency courts obsolescence by omitting China and India as members."
"The demand for international cooperation has not diminished. In fact, it is greater than ever, thanks to deepening economic interdependence, worsening environmental degradation, proliferating transnational threats, and accelerating technological change. But effective multilateral responses are increasingly occurring outside formal institutions, as frustrated actors turn to more convenient, ad hoc venues. The relative importance of legal treaties and universal bodies such as the UN is declining, as the United States and other states rely more on regional organizations, "minilateral" cooperation among relevant states, codes of conduct, and partnerships with nongovernmental actors. And these trends are only going to continue." 
"The future will see not the renovation or the construction of a glistening new international architecture but rather the continued spread of an unattractive but adaptable multilateral sprawl that delivers a partial measure of international cooperation through a welter of informal arrangements and piecemeal approaches."
Final comment:  The excerpt above gives you a flavor of the tone of the entire article which is written from the perspective of someone who would prefer to see more global governance.

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