a few weeks after the japanese attack on pearl harbor, winston churchill was a guest at the white house. president franklin roosevelt was so eager to tell his guest about his chosen name for the new world security organization that he is said to have walked into churchill's bedroom and found the british prime minister there, practically naked, in a bathrobe.
what is striking in the history of the creation of the united nations (this is the name roosevelt chose) is the unorthodox style of communication not chosen by the american president (the modern president of the united states would probably state his idea on twitter), but the fact that even during the war, these statesmen were already planning a peaceful life.
on the economic front, this led to the creation in 1944 in bretton woods, new hampshire, of the world bank and the international monetary fund (imf). in terms of security, plans for a un were fleshed out at the dumbarton oaks mansion in washington, dc; then these plans were generally agreed upon by churchill, roosevelt and stalin in yalta, in the crimea, and the final decision was made at a conference in san francisco after roosevelt's death. "this could be a great day in history," president harry truman said on june 26, 1945, at the closing meeting of the conference, when the organization's charter was signed. the countries put aside their differences and "demonstrated unbreakable unity and determination to find ways to end all wars."
but euphoria soon gave way to disappointment as the cold war began. however, as noted by dag hammarskjold, the organization's second general secretary, the un "was not created to bring humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell." for 75 years there has not been a single world war (however there have been too many smaller wars). unlike the league of nations, its predecessor, the un has proved more resilient. the number of its members increased from 51 to 193 due to the decolonization process, as well as the collapse of the soviet empire. the un is at the heart of a rules-based world order, and its activities, as well as those of its special agencies, cover almost every aspect of life.
however, no international order can last forever. over time, the balance of forces changes, systems cannot adapt, and the process of destruction begins. the world after the congress of vienna in 1815 collapsed slowly; the world after the versailles peace of 1919 collapsed quickly. changes associated with the replacement of one dominant power with another usually means the beginning of a war (such a shift and a transition of influence in the world from britain to america, which occurred more than a century ago, is a rare exception).
covid-19 is a new challenge. today there is a vacuum where the world has traditionally turned its gaze to american leadership. instead of leadership, he sees president trump playing the fool today, offering wacky treatment options. trump is more interested in blaming china for the coronavirus pandemic than in shaping an international response, with his most notable move being the cessation of funding for the world health organization (who) and the threat to withdraw from the organization.
at the march g-7 foreign ministers' meeting, they were unable to even make a joint statement because united states secretary of state mike pompeo insisted on including the phrase "wuhan virus" (wuhan virus).
china's initial response to the emergence of coronavirus was an awkward silence, and after the introduction of a strict self-isolation regime, which allowed to take control of the spread of covid-19, beijing began to extol its successes around the world and supply protective kits to grateful countries. at this point, the europeans closed their borders, including those that, according to the schengen agreement, were supposed to remain open. as for the security council, with its lack of unity, it just happened to be missing at that moment.
the existing world order looked pretty shaky before. the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 contributed to the growth of populist sentiments and also demonstrated the weakness of international institutions. these international institutions often reflect the realities that existed several decades ago, rather than the current situation (the five permanent members of the un security council with veto power are the victorious powers in world war ii), but they are opposed to reform.
the rules remain, but the major powers increasingly feel free and able to ignore them. russia insolently seized part of ukraine. china has occupied disputed territories in the south china sea.
америка уже давно начала жаловаться по поводу затрат на поддержание существующий многосторонней системы, и она недовольна, чувствуя себя «гулливером», связанным слабыми и мелкими странами. вместе с британией соединенные штаты совершили вторжение в ирак в 2003 году, не получив на это мандат совета безопасности. президент барак обама, сделавший для себя приоритетом «строительство нации у себя дома», начал половинчатое сложение с себя бремени глобального лидерства. однако сегодня этот главный архитектор существующей системы имеет президента, который, похоже, испытывает удовольствие, направляя на это лидерство тяжелый металлический шар, используемые для разрушения зданий.
г-н трамп вышел из парижского соглашения по климату, а также из ядерной сделки с ираном. у него имеются сомнения по поводу обязательств америки в нато (хотя он усилил военное присутствие своих вооруженных сил во многих частях европы). он продолжает подрывать фундамент всемирной торговой организации (вто), и делает он это с помощью блокирования назначений новых судий в апелляционный орган этой организации. он называет европейский союз «врагом». его любовь к санкциям вызывает дополнительные трения, а также является причиной жалоб на то, что америка злоупотребляет своей «чрезмерной привилегией», поскольку доллар является мировой резервной валютой. все это порождает интерес (как среди союзников, так и среди соперников) к тому, чтобы сократить доминирование в мире доллара.
в оон союзники америки жалуются на то, что г-н трамп действует исключительно в своих интересах, стремясь получить все «лакомые кусочки». новым является не выход из того или иного специализированного агентства оон, а отсутствие приверженности к существующей системе: г-н трамп вышел из расположенной во франции организации оон по вопросам образования, науки и культуры (юнеско), а также из расположенного в женеве совета по правам человека (human rights council), назвав в качестве причины его предвзятое отношение к израилю. его риторика в стиле «америка прежде всего» напоминает язык генри лоджа (henry cabot lodge), сенатора и сторонника изоляционизма, который вел успешную борьбу в 1920-е годы против вступления в лигу наций. действия г-на трампа сильно отличаются от интернационализма рузвельта или трумэна. «будущее не принадлежит глобалистам», — заявил г-н трамп, выступая на сессии генеральной ассамблее оон в сентябре прошлого года. — будущее принадлежит патриотам«. все это означает, что оон отнюдь не приближается к своему счастливому дню рождения. скорее, можно сказать, что оон приближается к своей 75-годовщине в состоянии повышенной тревоги.
antonio guterres, secretary general of the united nations, cheerful and sociable former prime minister of portugal, divides the history of the organization he leads into three periods. the first period was "bipolar" and was characterized by the rivalry between america and the soviet union during the cold war. although the un security council was largely frozen, there was some predictability in this confrontation, and the un was ingenious enough to penetrate areas such as peacekeeping operations that are not even mentioned in the organization's charter.
after the collapse of communism, a "unipolar" period began, when the dominance of america, in fact, became undeniable. the security council was able to function as the founding fathers intended, and a number of peacekeeping missions were undertaken, and the american-led liberation of kuwait in 1991 was approved. george w. bush proclaimed a "new world order". the un has developed the principle of “responsibility to protect” the population against mass atrocities.
however, america got bogged down in the middle east and afghanistan, and then felt tired and began to pay more attention to its internal affairs. in the wider world, doubts about the imposing west have increased. revanchist russia and rising china increasingly challenged american supremacy. the security council once again found itself in a stalemate and simply watched the renewed great power rivalry. in the opinion of mr. guterres, this third period has not yet completed its formation. “the world has not yet become multipolar, and it is, in fact, in a chaotic state,” he emphasizes.
america comes first
the current degree of chaos is not surprising given the dramatic shifts that are beginning to divide the world into competing spheres of influence. take the economy, for example. since 2000, china's share of global gdp, when measured in market value, has increased from about 4% to almost 16%. its tech giants alibaba, tencent and huawei are expanding china's digital infrastructure outside the country, especially in emerging economies. china is the world's largest exporter, and although it is a relative newcomer (beijing only joined the club in 2001), today it presents itself as the main defender of the wto, which is under attack from america.
in finance, the dollar is still dominant, but the yuan is preparing to strengthen its position. china is still underrepresented in the imf, since its quota and voting share are only 6%. however, the fund is trying to support a weakened global economy, while china will be at the center of such plans - as in the area of debt relief plans (china has reportedly provided more than $ 140 billion in loans to african states and state-owned enterprises since 2000 ), and in the area of plans to increase quotas.
shifts of this kind spill over into the diplomatic field, as well as into the field of security issues that are the focus of this special publication. is the un, along with the joint global leadership it embodies, doomed to lose its influence in a world that will be determined by the rivalry of the great powers? it is, of course, still too early for her to give up her role. however, in order to maintain its influence and its character, the liberal order needs a restoration of leadership and difficult reforms.
the current multilateral, multilateral system has many important and strong points. one of them is its obvious necessity. the biggest challenges urgently require international cooperation, as the coronavirus pandemic shows very convincingly. the world must work together to develop vaccines, economic recovery, and support the most vulnerable countries. world food program chief david beasley, former governor of south carolina, believes urgent action is needed to prevent “ numerous cases of famine on a biblical scale. " joint efforts are also needed in the area of climate change, and this is another problem that no country in the world can solve alone. in addition, the risks associated with the possibility of nuclear proliferation are increasing.
the second advantage is that the un is a popular organization. she made many shameful mistakes. it failed to prevent genocide in rwanda and in srebrenica. un peacekeepers have been accused of spreading cholera in haiti and of sexual assault in many places they were supposed to defend. the un oil-for-food program in iraq resulted in theft of $ 1.9 billion. however, according to the 2020 edelman trust barometer, the company enjoys more credibility than many governments. among the 32 countries where pew conducted its research last year, an average of 61% of respondents rated the un positively, while 26% of respondents reported negative attitudes towards the organization. a fairly large majority of americans are also positive about the un, although there is a growing divergence along the party line: 77% of democrats support the un, and only 36% of republicans.
another study by the chicago council on global affairs found that seven in ten americans believe the united states should be actively involved in international affairs, the highest rate for all the time such surveys are being conducted. this brings us to the last factor that should not be underestimated: it is about the possibility of america's return to a more active participation in international affairs. america continues to be the most powerful economy in the world, and has significantly more opportunities in both hard and soft power than any of its rivals. it can again become the standard-bearer of the world liberal order.
it would be naive to expect mr. trump to suddenly develop enthusiasm for multilateralism, and even those who will replace him. america's suspicion of involvement in foreign affairs has existed since the formation of this republic. disillusionment with the wto, nato, and other organizations had been on the rise even before mr. trump entered the white house. the country's contradictions only intensified during his presidency, making it more difficult to exercise leadership outside the country. nevertheless, joe biden's victory in the presidential elections in november, if not literally a change of the game, will at least mean a resumption of this game. “we will be back,” promised mr. biden in his speech last year at the munich security conference.
the un wants to use its 75th anniversary to hold broad consultations on the future of multilateralism. covid-19 has now completely dominated the global agenda. but the coronavirus pandemic also creates opportunities. rather than destroying the existing system, the problems that arise may prompt countries to strengthen it. this will require planning for the future while addressing the current crisis. current leaders must demonstrate their ability to do what their predecessors did with such brilliance in 1945.