Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Showing posts for "Rising Powers"

So You Want to Be a Global Power: South Africa’s Ambitions on the World Stage

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
South African President Jacob Zuma addresses attendees during the seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 28, 2015. South African President Jacob Zuma addresses attendees during the seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 28, 2015 (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Naomi Egelresearch associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

As a member of the BRICS, a leader in African peacekeeping, and an aspiring UN Security Council permanent member, South Africa plays a significant role in global governance and aspires to a greater role. To better understand the factors driving South African foreign policy—including both aspirations and limitations—the International Institutions and Global Governance program held a workshop in Cape Town on March 1, 2016, in conjunction with the South African Institute of International Affairs. Read more »

Surface Tension: Chinese Aggression Roils Southeast Asian Waters

by Stewart M. Patrick
Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015. Filipino activists protest Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea outside the Chinese embassy in Manila on April 17, 2015 (Erik De Castro/Reuters).

In telling the Group of Seven (G7) yesterday to butt out of its controversial maritime claims in East Asia, China has doubled down on an historic strategic blunder. Beijing’s belligerence in the South China Sea is especially imprudent. By refusing to compromise on its outrageous sovereignty claims, the government of Xi Jinping discredits its “peaceful rise” rhetoric and complicates efforts by member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “triangulate” between China and the United States. Continued Chinese muscle-flexing will only undermine support for president Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and push regional fence-sitters into the U.S. embrace. The most promising outcome for all concerned would be a face-saving climb-down by China. Under this scenario, Beijing would promote détente rather than confrontation—without explicitly abandoning its jurisdictional claims. These are the main takeaways from a week’s worth of discussions with officials, policy analysts, and academics in China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Read more »

A G20 Agenda for China: Meeting the World’s Infrastructure, Climate, and Development Needs

by Stewart M. Patrick
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2016. Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2016 (Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters).

This week thousands of government officials, journalists, academics, and private sector and civil society representatives convene in Washington for the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But the most important event for global economic governance occurs later this year. And it won’t be in the United States. In September, China will host the eleventh summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) in the eastern city of Hangzhou, one of the country’s ancient capitals. Read more »

Headed South: Jacob Zuma Leads South Africa toward the Precipice

by Stewart M. Patrick
Protesters carry placards as they take part in a "Zuma must fall" demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, on December 16, 2015. Protesters carry placards as they take part in a "Zuma must fall" demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, on December 16, 2015 (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters).

—Johannesburg, March 6

South Africa is in the grips of its most serious economic and political crisis since 1994, when the country elected its first post-apartheid government under Nelson Mandela. The African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled the country since its liberation, is on the defensive. Younger South Africans—many born into freedom—are disillusioned by the ANC’s failure to deliver broad-based prosperity in what has become the world’s most unequal nation, in terms of per capita income. Most worrisome, President Jacob Zuma’s government has taken an authoritarian and corrupt turn—at the very moment the country needs bold and honest leadership. Read more »

The Tragic Irony of Syria: The System “Worked”

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014 (Andrew Kelly/Reuters).

For nearly five years, the UN Security Council has failed to end Syria’s suffering. The numbers are numbing: The war has claimed 250,000 lives and displaced over 50 percent of Syria’s prewar population of twenty-two million. The grinding conflict has deepened sectarian turmoil in the region and created the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe. The tragedy has also laid bare an inconvenient truth about the inherent limits of the Security Council in an era of great power rivalry. Because in Syria, the system worked—just not for the Syrian people. Read more »

Making Sense of “Minilateralism”: The Pros and Cons of Flexible Cooperation

by Stewart M. Patrick
The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014. The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014 (Jerry Lampen/Reuters).

A defining feature of twenty-first century multilateralism is the rising prominence of alternative forms of collective action as complements to—and often substitutes for—traditional intergovernmental cooperation. Conventional bodies—chief among them, the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions—may persist, but states increasingly participate in a bewildering array of flexible, ad hoc frameworks whose membership varies based on situational interests, shared values, or relevant capabilities. These institutions are often “minilateral” rather than universal; voluntary rather than legally binding; disaggregated rather than comprehensive; trans-governmental rather than just intergovernmental; regional rather than global; multi-level and multi-stakeholder rather than state-centric; and “bottom-up” rather than “top-down.” We see this across issue areas, from the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of Twenty (G20) in the realm of economic cooperation, to the growing importance of regional organizations like the African Union and ASEAN, to the emergence of alternative international financial institutions, like the BRICS New Development Bank. Read more »

United Nations, Divided World: Obama, Putin, and World Order

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin address the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin address the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2015 (Mike Segar/Reuters).

For the past six years, President Barack Obama has dominated the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, his words and initiatives driving the agenda and media coverage. This year, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin, making his first UN appearance in a decade, who stole the diplomatic show. Putin’s call for a “grand coalition” against the Islamic State, an idea backed by even some U.S. allies, has placed the Obama administration, which has long clung to an “Assad must go” position in Syria, on the defensive. Although it would require at least a partial U.S. climb-down, Putin’s initiative could help resolve a grinding conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people, facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, and generated a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and neighboring states and the worst migration crisis in the history of the European Union. At the same time, Putin’s address underscored how different the world looks from Moscow’s vantage point—and how inconsistent Russian authoritarianism and realpolitik is with President Obama’s dream of an open, rule-based international order. Read more »

Are You Ready for Some UNGA? What to Expect When Leaders Collide on “Super Monday”

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, China, on November 11, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, China, on November 11, 2014 (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters).

World leaders descend on the United Nations (UN) next week for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The confab gets off to a bang on what might be called “Super Monday,” with addresses in rapid succession from U.S. President Barack Obama (who by tradition speaks second), Chinese President Xi Jinping (fourth), Russian President Vladimir Putin (sixth), and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (eighth). Given U.S. tensions with all three nations, the crowded morning offers ample opportunities for fireworks. The sequencing poses a particular predicament for President Obama, who (on this day at least) won’t get the last word. If he’s too tough on any of the three, he risks verbal retaliation from the podium. If he’s too conciliatory, his legion of domestic critics will depict him as an invertebrate. The trick for the president is to show sufficient spine on fundamental issues but signal willingness to compromise on details. Read more »

Xi Said Yes: How China Got Engaged at the UN

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai, China, on May 19, 2014. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai, China, on May 19, 2014 (Mark Ralston/Reuters).

Coauthored with Naomi Egel, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver his first address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The historic moment is an opportunity to marvel at how dramatically China’s attitude toward the United Nations (UN) has evolved since the days of Mao. Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dismissed the UN as an instrument of U.S. (and broader Western) imperialism. Today, its leaders regard the world body as a useful vehicle for pursuing China’s national interests, demonstrating responsible Chinese behavior, and checking U.S. power and interventionist tendencies. For Beijing, the UN offers a platform to showcase China’s aspirations and growing capacity for constructive global leadership. Accordingly, expect President Xi to trumpet China’s contributions to world order from the podium on September 28. Read more »

The BRICS: Three Things to Know

by Stewart M. Patrick
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting ahead of the BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, on July 8, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting ahead of the BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, on July 8, 2015 (Sergei Ilnitsky/Reuters).

This week, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will gather in the Russian city of Ufa for the seventh annual summit of the BRICS. The BRICS have come a long way since 2001, when Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill coined the term “BRIC” to describe the four most dynamic emerging economies of the new century. With South Africa’s addition in 2011, the BRICS became a symbol of the shifting global political landscape—one in which the BRICS seek power and influence commensurate with their growing economic weight. Read more »