By Isaiah Sears (GSB ‘15)
How have international politics changed since September 11, 2001?
On the thirteenth anniversary of that fateful day, Ian Bremmer, political scientist and president of the Eurasia Group, visited Fordham University to share his perspectives on the current state of global affairs with students and faculty.
Mr. Bremmer began with a discussion of the “G-Zero” world—also the subject of his book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. A G-Zero world is one that lacks a leader to shepherd international politics and resolve conflicts. While he acknowledged the United States’ position as a global economic and military superpower, Mr. Bremmer pointed out that America no longer holds the lead as global conflict resolver, and every nation is operating for itself.
His theory has met criticism for underestimating the role of the US in global society, but Mr. Bremmer posits reasonable doubt about the US as well as other nations taking the lead, including Japan and some European countries—a significant change in the global profile compared to just a few decades ago.
In addition to discussing this historic shift in the world economy, the political scientist talked about ISIS, giving Obama’s recent speech on the Islamic State an A- for its inclusion of neighboring Arab states, while giving the administration a more critical D-, “even with a Yale curve,” for such a soft response to Russia’s forays into Ukraine. He examined Southeast Asia, and explained how China was not the only emerging market to focus on, because others such as Indonesia offer incredible potential for development.
The Q&A session emphasized the international breadth of Fordham’s student body. A student from Zimbabwe questioned Chinese financing of African debt; a student from Scotland inquired about the fate of the UK; and an undergraduate from China asked about the future of Taiwan. Mr. Bremmer gave fascinating insights into each: China is indeed more deeply positioned in certain emerging African markets than the US; Scotland probably will not secede; and Taiwan is nearly a part of the People’s Republic of China already.
While his G-Zero thesis is not canon, it is clear that the global political landscape is changing, as certain incumbents have lost relevance while new players such as China have taken on commanding global roles. Mr. Bremmer’s message, while critical of the current state of international politics, also offered optimism about the new possibilities for change in a quickly globalizing world.
New markets are emerging in Africa, Asia, and South America, offering new levels of wealth and education for the poorest in the world. To a student from India who was looking for optimism about his nation as the session came to an end, Mr. Bremmer told him “50% of the people in your country are under the age of 25 – the future is very bright for India.”
While September 11,, 2001 was on the minds of many attendees, Mr. Bremmer’s discussion was enlightening and encouraging to the Fordham community he addressed thirteen years later at Lincoln Center.