The optimism of the early 1990s vision of a "new world order" was based on the assumption that globalization would knit the nations of the world into a global community espousing common values and shared interests, backed up by a rising tide of prosperity that would eliminate the need for zero-sum perspectives in world affairs. But two decades later, such rhetoric rings hollow.
Final Curtain: The End of the New World Order
Twenty-two years to the day after President George H.W. Bush evoked a "new world order" in an address to a joint session of Congress, the optimism that guided that vision seems a distant memory, even as the U.S. dominance that made it possible has given way to an increasingly multipolar system of global checks and balances. The economic integration of globalization, too, is being rolled back by the after-effects of the global financial crisis, while the state-based approach to global security has been rendered obsolete by the hybrid nature of globalized power. The combined effect is of an era coming to a close.
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The global economy is currently undergoing a quiet transformation. While most of the world's attention remains focused on the European Union's struggle to formulate a solution to its debt crisis, other far-reaching economic forces are shifting beneath the surface. Increasingly, it seems as if the golden era of globalization that defined the last quarter of the 20th century is in danger.
After three decades of unprecedented global interdependence and technological innovation, the state-based global security architecture inherited in the aftermath of the Cold War has become increasingly obsolete. The current world order is increasingly hybrid. What is needed is a hybrid framework on which the next generation of political, security and economic structures can be built.