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At G20 summit, West must partner with rising democracies in new global order

At the G20 summit in Los Cabos, the agenda will be full of tricky issues. The US and European delegations must look at the bigger picture, one in which the West will need to partner with the rising powers that are today’s global swing states: Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.

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The US and Europe should partner with Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey to pursue a new and broader international order – one that is more inclusive and ultimately more stable. To do this, the US and Europe will need to develop a more carefully conceived and executed engagement strategy. This starts with recognizing the traditional global order’s present shortcomings.

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The current order’s bedrock institutions give disproportionate weight to Western countries at the expense of today’s rising powers. The task is to better include emerging power democracies while preserving the fundamental characteristics that have made the prevailing global order so successful.

The US and some European countries have already taken a tentative step in this direction by backing India’s permanent seat in an enlarged UN Security Council with the expectation that greater status and increased responsibility go hand in hand.

Given the importance of global order to maintaining peace and prosperity, the US and Europe should take the case for enhanced partnership to the general publics and the private sectors in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.

This type of outreach is particularly important. As they go global, corporations in these countries are becoming more dependent upon the international trade and financial architecture and on secure transportation routes. The private sector wields considerable political influence in all four states and could make a decisive argument for why governments should help underwrite the international rules of the road.

China, as a one-party dictatorship, differs fundamentally from democratic rising powers, but may serve as a critical impetus behind the West’s approach toward these key countries. Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey view China with ambivalence if not outright concern. As the US and Europe engage these four powers, they should emphasize that investing in a rules-based order is the best way for them to encourage a peaceful Chinese ascendance.

An adapted and renewed order supported by the West and a critical mass of these key rising democratic countries may channel China’s growing strength in a constructive direction.

At Los Cabos this week, the agenda will be full of tricky issues. But the US and European delegations might profitably take a step back to look at the bigger picture, one in which the West will need to partner with the rising powers that are today’s global swing states.

With all four of these states now rethinking their role on the international stage, the time is ripe for the US and Europe to act. Western decisions today will – and indeed must – influence whether Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey support the global order of tomorrow. 

Daniel M. Kliman is a transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Richard Fontaine is president of the Center for a New American Security.


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