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At the G-20, Look to the Swing States

, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011

As the leaders from the 20 largest developed and emerging economies gather this week in Cannes, France, observers will catalogue the difficulties in forging consensus around decisive steps to remedy global ills. To be sure, a roomful of the world’s most powerful leaders are bound to disagree about the causes and consequences of global economic instability and the arc of global order. But this G-20 summit will highlight another central challenge to coordinated international action: the rise of democratic powers that are ambivalent about the prevailing international order and have yet to decide whether to bolster it, replace it or bypass it altogether.

Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey form the core of this group of global swing states. With them, the United States and its traditional partners can perpetuate a modified international order that protects fundamental economic and security interests. Without them, efforts to extend the rules-based international order -- and to manage global challenges through groupings like the G-20 -- are likely to falter. ...

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