The basis of the US-led liberal world order was laid at the end of the World War 2. However, the United States and the Soviet Union kept on fighting over the spread and influence of their respective ideologies till the 1990s. The United States’ victory in the Cold War established its hegemony over the globe. Many Western philosophers, at that time, believed that the US-led liberal world order was here to stay. Famous American political philosopher, Francis Fukuyama, in his book “The End of History and the Last Man,” also endorsed this notion. However, the turn of the 21st century exposed many flaws in the liberal world order. For the past two decades, the world has witnessed numerous wars, chaos, and turmoil in almost every region. And at the core of most of these wars and conflicts, there is one common factor: The United States. The latter has waged wars, sparked chaos, and thrown governments in many countries under the pretense of democracy.
Most of the world’s financial institutions, including the World Bank, IMF, etc., are under US control. These institutions were created to financially assist the underdeveloped and developing nations. However, the United States has long been using these institutions to put the global south under duress to implement pro-US policies. This augmented a feeling of being under the dominance of the United States, especially among the poor countries of the world. Allegedly, the United States also holds the reins of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Although the rationale behind the creation of this institution was to curb terror financing and money laundering. However, this institution, too, has been reduced merely to a tool for the United States to pressure the countries that do not conform to the latter’s policies. China, Pakistan, and many other countries have raised concerns about the politicization of this institution by the United States and its allies. Even some of the US allies admitted to using this forum for political leverage over their enemies in the past.
The United Nations is considered the fundamental organ of the US-led world order. Initially, this institution was created to provide representation to all the member countries of the world and to resolve their disputes peacefully. However, the basic structure of the institution was faulty since its creation, as it provided extensive powers to 5 major countries. This inculcated a feeling of deprivation among other member countries. The United States has used this power for its own benefit a host of times throughout history. Recently, the United States has also vetoed a UN resolution calling for a peaceful ceasefire in Gaza. This has further sparked hostile sentiment among third-world countries against the US-led liberal world order. Moreover, the lack of power to enforce the UN resolution has also led to the failure of this system. On multiple occasions, the United States has even ignored and rejected the United Nations and has become the source of chaos and turmoil in different countries around the world. The United States’ unilateral decision to attack Iraq is one of the major substantiations of the failure of this world order.
The recent Israel-Hamas war has exposed the inadequacies of this world order. The United Nations failed to protect the lives of innocent civilians, including children and women, against Israel’s genocide. The United States and its Western allies provided protection to Israel in its ethnic cleansing operations in Gaza. South Africa registered a case against Israel’s genocide in Gaza in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 29th December 2023, calling for an immediate ceasefire. However, the ICJ ended up making a weak decision after hearing both sides. It declared Israel’s actions genocidal. However, it did not call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. This proved detrimental to the already ruptured image of the liberal institutions. Pro-Palestinian people around the globe took this decision as an attempt by the ICJ to appease both sides.
To fill all this void created by the US-dominated liberal world order, Russia and China have emerged as a new hope for the global south. China and Russia are leading an inclusive world order through BRICS. The expansion of BRICS has provided underdeveloped and developing countries with an opportunity to have their say in global affairs. Chinese President Xi Jinping stated at the BRICS Summit 2023 that all countries should have an equal opportunity to excel in global modernization. More than 40 countries have shown interest in joining BRICS recently. This demonstrates the declining faith of the world in the US-led liberal world order. To stay relevant and to preserve its integrity, the institutions of international liberal order will have to give more space to the global south. Otherwise, it is bound to be replaced by a new and more inclusive world order led by emerging economies.
Taut Bataut – is a researcher and writer that publishes on South Asian geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.