Moderated by Rudyard Griffiths, Is This The End of The Liberal International Order? is the published copy of the debate hosted by Munk Debates. The event brought together Niall Ferguson and Fareed Zakaria to discuss whether the liberal international order, who some argue has existed since the end of WWII, is over. Niall Ferguson, supporting the end of the liberal international order, is a British historian and political commentator, and currently serves as the Hoover Institution senior fellow and served for twelve years as Harvard’s Laurence Tisch Professor of History. An author of sixteen texts covering subjects such as international history, economic and financial history, and American and British imperialism. Ferguson is known for his provoking and oppositionist views.
Fareed Zakaria, arguing against the decline of the liberal international order, is an American journalist and author of best-selling books The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom. He currently hosts the weekly public affairs show, Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN International, and writes weekly columns for The Washington Post. He has published for Newsweek and edited for Newsweek International and Time. Zakaria self-identifies as a centrist, but has been described as a political liberal, a conservative, a moderate, and a radical centrist.
Both contestants gave their opening and outlining remarks. Ferguson believed that although globalism has benefitted the top 1% of income earners who receive a third of the economic revenue created, it has hurt the majority living on the periphery. He also does not believe that the international order is liberal because of its main beneficiary, China: the one-party state run by the communist elite. He concludes his statement by arguing that the system has been anything but orderly. Challenging the era of the Pax Americana has been the rise of Islamic extremism, tens of millions of displaced individuals, and nuclear proliferation.
Fareed Zakaria believed that since the end of WWII there has been massive progress for mankind. More countries have joined to be part of a system that has taken more people out of poverty than ever and that thrives off of self-determination, freedom, and liberty with institutions such as the EU and GATT. Zakaria acknowledges that fast globalization has created a sense of cultural anxiety, but it is those same states that spearheaded the liberal international order. He ends his statement recognizing that the future lays in the hands of those who live in an diverse and cosmopolitan world.
Before the debate, the 3,000-member audience voted 34% in favor of the end of the order while 66% were against it. At the conclusion of the debate, 29% were in favor, and 69% were against the resolution.
About the Author
Isabela Piedrahita is a recent graduate of Barstow High School in Kansas City, MO, and has interests in International Relations and Diplomacy.