Tuesday May 09, 2017

The decline and fall of the liberal international order

Niall Ferguson, Rudyard Griffiths, and Fareed Zakaria.

Niall Ferguson, Rudyard Griffiths, and Fareed Zakaria. (The Munk Debates)

Listen to Full Episode 53:58

For decades, global affairs have been moulded by ideas about the mutual benefits of an interdependent world.  But the pillars of liberal internationalism are cracking under the rise of nationalist politics and other challenges.  Is this the beginning of the end of the liberal international order?  In a head-to-head Munk Debate, historian Niall Ferguson says Yes, the old order is collapsing, while commentator Fareed Zakaria argues No, there's life yet in liberal ideals.


"All this talk of a liberal international order is just what they do at Davos and Aspen to keep their spirits up as slowly and inexorably, ever smaller shrinks the deck on the Titanic." -- Niall Ferguson

"Poland is three times richer than Ukraine having started in the same place in 1990 … it is those ordinary Ukrainians, ordinary Poles who understand this, and who understand that the European Union provides them with political stability... Those are the people who I look to when I ask myself 'Does the European Union have a future?' I couldn't care less about the bankers at Davos." -- Fareed Zakaria

The United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, NAFTA, the World Health Organization. The list is long, and the ideas behind these and many others have shaped our world since at least the end of the Second World War, and led to a time of general prosperity.  But a rising tide hasn't raised all boats equally. Economic disparity, declining industries, and large-scale immigration have all contributed to a growing anxiety about the state of the world.  


Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, at Harvard University. He also holds positions at Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is a prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, writing a weekly column for London's Sunday Times and the Boston Globe.

Ferguson has published 14 books, including most recently Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist. Many of Ferguson's books have been adapted for television. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He holds a master's degree and a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford. He is a father of four and is married to the author and women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

Fareed Zakaria was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010. He is the host of CNN's flagship international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, and is also a Washington Post columnist, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author.

He has written several books, most notably The Post American World, (2008), The Future of Freedom (2003), and most recently In Defense of a Liberal Education (2015).

Zakaria was born in India, received a bachelor of arts from Yale College and a Ph. D. from Harvard University. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

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**This episode was produced by Dave Redel.