Developing countries are going their own way, and they're doing it without the West. Weber, Barma and Ratner strike first. Devin Stewart, Ian Bremmer and Chas Freeman address some of these issues, with more commentary to come in this inaugural edition of Report and Retort. Steven Weber responds here.
For the first time in a century, a set of large, populous and increasingly wealthy states-this time China, India and Russia-are on the cusp of achieving great-power status. The most important and most uncertain foreign-policy question facing American decision-makers over the next decade is simply this: What will be the relationship between these rising powers and an international system still governed by "Western" conceptions of order and based on the primacy of post-World War II U.S.-sponsored rules, drawn from liberal models of capitalism and democracy?
International-relations theory and American foreign-policy analysis alike portray rising nations as spokes to the hegemon's hub, forced to make a simple choice: They can directly challenge the United States for international leadership, leading to conflict, or they can integrate into the existing liberal order, leading to a peaceful evolution in which rising powers adapt to the American system, rather than make fundamental modifications to it. The future of world politics then is either systemic conflict or eventual assimilation.