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The Liberal Order Is Rigged

Fix It Now or Watch It Wither

Workers listen to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign stop in Canton, Ohio, March 2012. Brian Snyder / Reuters

Prior to 2016, debates about the global order mostly revolved around its structure and the question of whether the United States should actively lead it or should retrench, pulling back from its alliances and other commitments. But during the past year or two, it became clear that those debates had missed a key point: today’s crucial foreign policy challenges arise less from problems between countries than from domestic politics within them. That is one lesson of the sudden and surprising return of populism to Western countries, a trend that found its most powerful expression last year in the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, or Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

It can be hard to pin down the meaning of “populism,” but its crucial identifying mark is the belief that each country has an authentic “people” who are held back by the

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