Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer
|Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An elegantly-written look at the present world order and how it might develop. It's thought-provoking and informative.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: May 2012|
|Publisher: Portfolio Penguin|
|External links: Author's website|
We're all used to terms like 'G7' which then became the 'G8' - the group of countries which met periodically to thrash out global problems - frequently with America being expected to take the lead where military muscle or finance was concerned. We even nod knowingly at the mention of the G20 - formed with the good intention that a larger group would be able to tackle such issues as climate change. We know where good intentions generally lead but there wasn't even sufficient agreement amongst the nations to all head off in the same direction. So when a point was reached where America was no longer financially able or politically willing to play global policeman what was left?
When I saw the title of the book I was put in mind of a plot of land in New York with an eerily empty sky line, but G-Zero is a situation where no country, or group of countries, is in a position to give leadership to the world. It's about more than power or money but rather the ability to get something done - and the present world order is one where individual countries have the power of veto but none seem to have the will to move forward. Everyone, as Bremer says, is waiting for someone else to put out the fire.
Looking back some thirty or forty years there were strong countries or groups of countries - America, Europe, the USSR and Japan spring to mind - who were capable of thrashing out solutions, but it is difficult to see where leadership would come from in the twenty-first century if the current financial crises became global meltdown, or the frequently-anticipated pandemic materialised.
Ian Bremmer looks at the history of how we have reached this position (and the more I read the more I was convinced that we are in a G-Zero situation) from western domination post World War II right through to the present day. It's a relatively short read - I read it over a couple of evenings - but Bremmer has the knack of being able to explain complex ideas and situations in ways which are comprehensible to the casual reader and without being patronising. By the time I'd finished reading I had an overview of where each of the main players - be they developed or developing countries, institutions or corporations - stood and what the future looked like for them. It's knowledge that you can apply elsewhere too - I frequently found myself saying ah, that would be why...
Quibbles are minor. Much of the book is speculation - albeit very informed speculation - within a rapidly evolving situation and there is a danger that it will be overtaken by events. Also, it's written by an American, from the perspective of an American and very much from inside America. I suffered a few Huh? moments when a place was compared to a city or state within America and in a book which is more about the problems than about the solutions it's the American future which is considered. If you can cope with that - or if that's your perspective - then this is a good, pithy read which leaves you with lots to think about.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to Bookbag.
The events in North Africa over the last year or so have had a major effect on the world order. The Arab Spring: Rebellion, revolution, and a new world order by Toby Manhire (editor) is a good starting point if you'd like to know more. China is likely to be a major player in the coming decades - for an excellent look at the Chinese economy we can recommend Demystifying the Chinese Economy by Justin Yifu Lin and The Death of Mao: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Birth of the New China by James Palmer.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer at Amazon.com.
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