In This Review

The Future of Global Affairs: Managing Discontinuity, Disruption and Destruction
The Future of Global Affairs: Managing Discontinuity, Disruption and Destruction
Edited by Christopher Ankersen and Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu
331 pp, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021

This thought-provoking collection of essays surveys today’s troubled system of global governance. The contributors paint a bleak picture: the scale and scope of global problems—including pandemics, global warming, cyberwarfare, international extremist networks, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—have simply overwhelmed the old postwar governance institutions, starting with the United Nations. The editors argue that for scholars to grasp the extent and profundity of this crisis, the study of “international relations” needs to be expanded into a multidisciplinary study of “global affairs,” which spans the fields of economics, politics, law, the environment, and development. Only this approach will help scholars understand an increasingly “complex, dynamic, and fragile” world. The environmental scientist Michael Oppenheimer argues that the world is entering an era of “illiberal globalization,” defined less by multilateral rules and more by raw power. In his contribution, Ankersen argues that the notion that globalization would overwhelm and undermine countries and lead to the “decline of the state” has not come to pass. States are reasserting their sovereign prerogatives, privileging internal security over international norms and human rights, and adapting technology and supply chains to geopolitical conflict. If the authors are right, the idea of global governance in this brave new world will be a quaint relic of an earlier era.