Review: As fragile as orchids

Nicolas Bouchet on a defensive prescription for democracies under threat

The World Today Updated 4 February 2021 Published 5 February 2021 3 minute READ

Nicolas Bouchet

Visiting fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States

A World Safe for Democracy
John Ikenberry, Yale, £20.00

Is there anything left to say about the liberal international order after Donald Trump? Four years of the least liberal, least internationalist American president in many decades triggered an exhaustive and, it has often felt, exhausting debate on the subject. But, as with most things to do with Trump, this was more culmination than origination. 

The chorus of laments about the state of the political and economic ideas that the United States and other, mostly western, countries spread worldwide after the end of the Cold War stretches back at least to the global financial crisis of 2008 or the War on Terror convulsions. In fact, as early as 1995, when the Cold War victors seemed at their ideological apogee, the political scientist Stanley Hoffman was already asking if liberal internationalism was in crisis.

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