In This Review

The End of American World Order
The End of American World Order
By Amitav Acharya
150 pp, Polity, 2014

In this lively polemic, Acharya takes aim at American thinkers who naively believe that rising non-Western states, such as China and India, will eventually join the U.S.-led international order as enthusiastic stakeholders. Such countries, he argues, hold different values from Western states, resent the special privileges that the United States retains as a hegemonic leader, and do not agree among themselves about what a post-American order should look like. Acharya foresees the emergence of a “multiplex” world, in which countries and regions will all (metaphorically) go to the same movie theater but end up watching different films. The book presents an imaginative vision of a less centralized, more pluralistic world, but it neglects to account for the forces of global integration that propelled non-Western states upward in the first place. The book also fails to appreciate the complex tension between non-Western countries’ discomfort with U.S. dominance of international governance institutions and their support for the ideal of an open, rule-based international order that is not strictly “American” but has rather resulted from decades of push and pull among many states, ideologies, and agendas.