Is there a global power shift from West to East?

Saturday 31 October, 10.30am until 12.00pm, Henry Moore Gallery

The current economic crisis has led to calls for a new financial order, a Bretton Woods II. But can US President Obama reshape the world in the way that Roosevelt and Truman did when America was the supreme world power? Or is China ready to take over from America and lead the world? It is less than a century since Britain effectively surrendered its position as a military superpower to the US, having first been eclipsed by American economic power. The UK only hung on to a certain superiority based on assumed cultural pre-eminence and expertise in international diplomacy compared to its brash American cousins. Today, while America no doubt remains the world’s biggest economic and military power by far, it is also clear that its political power is not what it was. Embroiled in two seemingly unsuccessful conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and facing the biggest economic crisis since the Depression, American might no longer seems to translate into a confident projection of power onto the world. When Obama says America is ready to lead once more, we wonder where exactly he wants to lead us, and why he seems to be asking permission.

Although China may raise the odd difficult question about the role of the dollar as world currency and call for reform of the world’s institutions, it by no means seems ready to take up the baton; instead it self-consciously avoids conflict, projecting only ‘soft power’. India looks over her shoulder at China, while Russia, while maybe willing to lead the world, is hardly a credible or popular choice. Are we entering a new period in world affairs in which the old power is crumbling away from within - more unsure of itself and its mission than under any real challenge - and no new power is ready to take its place? What might this imply for international relations? A new form of global parity and co-operation, or a world bereft of direction and incapable of containing local conflicts, scared of its own shadow?

Speakers
Dr Kerry Brown
director, Lau China Institute, King's College, London; and Associate Fellow at Chatham House

Professor Bill Durodié
head of department and chair of international relations, University of Bath

Dr Tara McCormack
lecturer in international politics, University of Leicester; author, Critique, Security and Power: the political limits to emancipatory approaches

Gideon Rachman
chief foreign affairs commentator, Financial Times; author, Zero-sum World: politics, power and prosperity after the crash

Chair:
Dr Philip Cunliffe
senior lecturer in international conflict, University of Kent; co-editor, Politics Without Sovereignty: a critique of contemporary international relations.


Produced by
Dr Tara McCormack lecturer in international politics, University of Leicester; author, Critique, Security and Power: the political limits to emancipatory approaches
Recommended readings
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The elevation of the G20 over the G8 has prompted talk of an international power shift. The reality is more complicated.

Tara McCormack, spiked, 1 October 2009

Sharing China’s confidence in the future

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Lord Mandelson, Telegraph, 30 September 2009

All Together Now

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Gordon Brown, New York Times, 23 September 2009

The Post-American World: and the Rise of the Rest

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Fareed Zakaria, Penguin, 4 June 2009

Obama and the limits of soft power

Barack Obama is a soft power president. But the world keeps asking him hard power questions.

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 2 June 2009

The interpolar world: a new scenario

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The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West

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Roger C. Altman, Foreign Affairs, February 2009

Is America’s new declinism for real?

The new declinism may be more soundly based than its predecessors. China has a record of sustained and dynamic economic growth that the Soviet Union was never capable of.

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 25 November 2008

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World

The international system—as constructed following the Second World War—will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors.

US National Intelligence Council, November 2008

Financial crisis marks out a new geopolitical order

Blame greedy bankers. Blame Alan Greenspan's careless stewardship of the US Federal Reserve. Blame feckless homeowners who took out loans they could never expect to repay. Blame politicians and regulators everywhere for closing their eyes to the approaching tempest.

Philip Stephens, Financial Times, 9 October 2008

Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade

"Rivals" looks at: How the power struggle between China, India and Japan will shape our next decade, will explore the legacies of history, the likely future trajectories of China, Japan and India, and the potential collisions and intersections between them which will shape the 21st century.

Bill Emmott, Allen Lane, 3 April 2008

What Does China Think?

An introduction to thinkers that are shaping China's future and a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution.

Mark Leonard, Fourth Estate, 18 February 2008

Struggling Giant: China in the 21st Century

Considers the impact of China’s development on the world economic system, and on its environment; the likely future stability of China; the very existence of a unified China and the fault lines along which this entity might break apart in the years ahead, and an assessment of the future of the one party system, and what might replace it.

Kerry Brown, Anthem Press, 6 June 2007


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