Governing in a Disordered Age

Drew Christiansen SJ

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The Liberal World Order (LWO) established after World War II is eroding rapidly. The world, especially the Western world, is experiencing a breakdown of responsible governance. Governments withdraw from treaties and agreements; formerly strong governments like Germany’s Grand Coalition are put in question; alliances fray, and international organizations and programs lack funding and the consensus needed for effective action. Britain’s political institutions are fracturing under the weight of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, leading to fears of a hard Brexit. Populist nationalists are building networks to contest the European Union, possibly the LWO’s most important achievement.

Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. has withdrawn unilaterally from various negotiations: the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership; the Paris Agreement; the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement. It has withdrawn from UNESCO, threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, and made known, in keeping with its “America First” policy, its antipathy to international treaties and organizations, including NATO.

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