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Beyond Blocs: The West, Rising Powers, and Interest-Based International Cooperation

Bruce Jones
Policy Analysis Brief
October 2011

Do the West and the Rest share interests? This question is asked with evermore frequency and skepticism—as China’s defense budget grows, Brazil widens its diplomacy in the Middle East and Iran, India takes an independent stance during its UN Security Council tenure, and some US politicians resort to increasingly isolationist rhetoric. It is an especially important question with respect to US-China relations, where overoptimistic hopes for a “G-2” have been replaced by exaggerated pessimism about China’s nefarious intentions.

Much hinges on the question of interests. Indeed, at stake is nothing less than the question of whether states will be able to manage our globalized world, or will instead preside over the costly erosion of a liberal international order that has served as the foundation of the last six decades of economic growth and the avoidance of war between great powers.

If we can resist both the “we’re all in this together” optimism of the global financial crisis and the pervasive pessimism of 2011, the evidence suggests that there is still room for a strategy to forge a more peaceful and prosperous international order.

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