Understanding the Current International Order
Oct 19, 2016
Since 1945, the United States has pursued its interests through the creation and maintenance of international economic institutions, global organizations, bilateral and regional security organizations, and liberal political norms that collectively are often referred to as the international order. This report evaluates the order's value, assessing its role in promoting U.S. goals and interests, as well as shared global objectives.
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Since 1945, the United States has pursued its interests through the creation and maintenance of international economic institutions, global organizations including the United Nations and G-7, bilateral and regional security organizations including alliances, and liberal political norms that collectively are often referred to as the "international order." In recent years, rising powers have begun to challenge aspects of this order. The purpose of this report is very specific: to evaluate the order's value — to assess its role in promoting U.S. goals and interests, and to measure its possible economic benefits in a number of specific areas. To answer the question of the order's value, we first had to define the components of the order that we proposed to evaluate for possible value to U.S. interests. We then reviewed broad assessments of the order, as well as detailed empirical work on its specific components. The resulting analysis produced five major findings: the postwar order offers significant value to U.S. interests and objectives; specifically in quantifiable and return-on-investment terms, the order contributes to outcomes with measurable value and appears to have a strongly positive cost-benefit calculus; the postwar order represents a leading U.S. competitive advantage; if the United States wants to continue to lead globally, some form of order is vital; and a functioning multilateral order will be essential to deal with emerging security and economic issues.
Defining the Postwar International Order
Measuring the Influence of the Order
How Do Orders Have Impact?
Measuring Value: International Economic Issues
Measuring Value: International Security Issues
Measuring Value: Normative Considerations and Value Promotion
Estimating Measurable Benefits of the Order
Looking Ahead: The Continuing and Prospective Value of the Order
This project was sponsored by the Office of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.
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