Article

How We Got to the Archipelago World

Published

2nd March 2019

The brief moment of global solidarity that followed the attacks of September 11th when we were “all Americans,” in the words of Le Monde, seems as improbable as it is distant. Barring a global catastrophe, the world is unlikely to unite again as it did on that day – and not just because of the conduct and course of the wars of 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq. A deeper – and more radical – shift is at work in the politics of the global economy. A fragmentation of power, capital and ideas is creating a new map of the world – with lasting implications for investors and policymakers alike.

The evidence is everywhere. Europe beginning to roll back key aspects of the free market even as it manages yet another bail-out of Greece; the failure of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations; a Doha trade round dead in all but name; the emergence of new global governance structures, such as G-20; the flows of macro-finance investments between emerging markets combining state and business interests; China’s “going out” strategy upending traditional vectors of global capital and influence; an Arab Awakening as much defined by its diversity as its aspiration for accountability and legitimate government; the resurgence of nationalist, populist movements across rich and poor parts of the world; a proliferation of hybrid economic and political systems defying old categories of left and right, liberal and authoritarian.

Conventional thinking holds that all this is a threat to an otherwise well-ordered global order – or that it reflects a zero-sum shift from West to East, U.S. to China, democracies to dictatorships. For large parts of the world, of course, the existing global order seemed less well-ordered than designed to perpetuate – by any means necessary – dated power structures of the mid-20thcentury. Equally, to see this merely as reflecting an all-embracing power shift to the East (as observers both Eastern and Western do) ignores the fact that pivotal powers such as Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria are charting distinct paths aimed above all at economic independence and national power – beyond ideological labels.

Instead, what we’re seeing is an emerging world of sovereign states vertically integrating national interests across the public and private sectors – and then going out strategically to compete for resources, growth and job creation. Having previously understood global interdependence as a reason for horizontal integration across markets and regions, states as diverse as Finland, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Mexico are now pursuing distinct, often bilateral, strategies for economic and political security. This is the new dynamic of global competition – one with implications as profound as they can seem contradictory.
 
From South-east Asia to West Africa, commodity states are leveraging their economies to the Chinese demand driver without wishing to replace Washington’s dominance with Beijing’s. Across the Middle East, citizens are deploying technology and new-found communications tools to demand consent in how they’re governed without losing their ability to see their values and traditions reflected in the fabric of their societies. In Latin America, state-owned corporations are working hand-in-hand with governments to pursue inclusive growth of a kind that holds promise beyond what was achieved by structural adjustment programs imposed by Western-dominated multilateral institutions.
There is an undeniable logic here. After all, it was never credible that climate change threatened each country or region in the same way – or to the same degree; that an overleveraged West threatened the global economy as much as it did its own dominance over rising powers; that the attempts of rogue states acquiring weapons of mass destruction represent an equal threat to states large and small, West and East. And now the narrative has been broken. Where you stand really is a function of where you sit – for states and people alike.
 
Today, after a six-month period of sovereign debt crises, tsunamis, nuclear disasters, revolutions, uprisings, and military interventions (and the list could go on), it would be natural to see this emerging order as inherently unstable. Volatility may seem like the new norm, but we’re more likely seeing a turbulent transition to a more resilient, and more diverse, global economy governed by national interests. The old stability was as much an illusion in Mubarak’s Egypt as it is in a global economy structured for the benefit of a few dominant, but deeply indebted, powers.
 
For the West, negotiating this new mosaic of power will require a mix of pragmatism, modesty, innovation, and strategic patience. It means, at times, partnering with Chinese investments in Africa instead of trying to convince its leaders that they have more to gain from yet more conditional aid. It means, at other times, accepting that an Egyptian government more legitimate and accountable in the eyes of its people will chart a course less pliable to Western demands. It means looking at a successful, modernizing Muslim country like Turkey and understanding that there is far more to gain by engaging with its growing influence than in lecturing it on the character of its politics, as long it remains a constitutional democracy.
 
Above all, it means focusing on management of the structural drivers of global growth and development – including energy, commodities, inflation and, yes, climate change – in ways that address the ways they affect different countries in different ways. The locus of legitimacy has returned to the nation-state, and as new powers gain the economic and political power to assert their interests, no solution that isn’t both global and national will be successful or sustainable.
 
A multi-speed global economy – with diverging long-term growth profiles – will increasingly be mirrored by a multi-dimensional global politics. This is a Great Game worthy of the name and the winners will be those states and corporations increasingly seeking their own success irrespective of traditional boundaries of geography, ideology, interest and alliances.
 
Welcome to the Archipelago World.
 

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  • Mark Carney

    MAP Senior Counsellor

    MAP Senior Counsellor & Former Governor of the Bank of England.

  • Katrin Suder

    MAP Senior Director

    Katrin is a Senior Director at Macro Advisory Partners.

  • Jonathan Cohen

    MAP Senior Director

    Jonathan Cohen is a MAP Senior Director. Jonathan served as a US diplomat for over thirty-five years.

  • Stephen E. Biegun

    MAP Senior Advisor
    MAP Senior Advisor. Former Deputy Secretary of State & Corporate Vice President, Ford Motor Company. 
  • Jason Bordoff

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Professor, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs; Former Special Assistant to President Obama.

  • Hal Brands

    MAP Senior Advisor

    Hal Brands is a MAP Senior Advisor. He is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

  • Evan Feigenbaum

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

  • Noah Feldman

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

  • Catherine Fieschi

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Director Counterpoint.

  • Steffen Hertog

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, LSE.

  • Ivan Krastev

    MAP Senior Advisor
    MAP Senior Advisor & Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia.
     
  • James Marshall

    MAP Senior Advisor

    James is a Senior Advisor at MAP with a specific focus on UK politics.

  • George Pagoulatos

    MAP Senior Advisor
    MAP Senior Advisor & Professor, European Politics and Economy, University of Athens.
  • Dan Restrepo

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Former Principal Advisor to President Obama on Latin America.

  • Elhadj As Sy

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor; Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board, and Co-chair of the WHO/World Bank Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB). 

  • Adam Szubin

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor and Former Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism & Financial Intelligence, US Treasury.

  • Sue Mi Terry

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Senior Fellow for Korea, CSIS. Former Director for Korea and Japan, US National Security Council.

  • Constantijn Van Oranje

    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Former Head of the Cabinet, European Commission.

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    MAP Senior Advisor

    MAP Senior Advisor & Former Deputy Legal-Counsel, United Nations.

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    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Former UN Special Representative for International Migration.

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    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Mala Gaonkar is Co-portfolio Manager at Lone Pine Capital, and a former consultant at the World Bank.

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    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Executive Chairman, Brookings India.

  • Vali Nasr

    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Dr Vali Nasr is Former Dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.

  • Jonathan Powell

    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Jonathan Powell is Director of Inter Mediate.

  • Joshua Steiner

    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Joshua Steiner is Chairman of the Board of Directors, Castleton Commodities.

  • Carl-Henric Svanberg

    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Carl-Henric Svanberg is Chairman of AB Volvo.

  • Tracy Wolstencroft

    MAP Global Advisory Board

    Tracy Wolstencroft is the former President and CEO of Heidrick & Struggles, President and CEO of The National Geographic Society, and Partner of Goldman Sachs.

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