Letter From the Editors


The world order is falling apart. The rise of nationalism and spread of populism is upending local power structures and changing foreign policies. With the United States turning inward, the global balance of power is shifting toward rising powers looking to dominate their own spheres of influence. And any hope for a liberal, democratic peace is giving way to fears that new or unending conflicts are uncontainable. The world as we knew it is gone.

Or is it?

For 70 years, the Journal of International Affairs has analyzed problems of global concern. Established in the wake of World War II, the journal traced the formation of new international institutions, norms, and power structures—in short, a new world order. From nuclear strategy during the Cold War, to America’s misadventure in Vietnam, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, leading academics and policymakers wrestled with the day’s most-pressing issues. Pages of the journal have been dedicated to understanding development and democratization and offering innovative policy solutions to conflicts and crises.

In this special anniversary issue, we bring together some of the world’s leading thinkers to assess the most-critical global issues. The authors look forward to the world ahead. Are we living through an inflection point in global history? Is this the beginning of the next world order?

New America’s Anne-Marie Slaughter looks at the dangers shaking, and perhaps toppling, the current world order, questioning whether there will be a return to anarchy. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the president of the International Crisis Group, argues that war must not become the new normal. But despite a penchant for unilateral action today, the former foreign minister of Israel, Shlomo Ben-Ami, says it may be premature to declare the death of multilateralism.

Mohamed A. El-Erian, the chief economic advisor of Allianz, analyzes the the future of economic and financial globalization, recommending solutions to the West’s ill-fated romance with finance. NYU’s William Easterly offers a much-needed take on development in a time of xenophobia, breaking the unofficial taboo on discussing racism in development. And the administrator of the United Nations Development Program and former prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, details what it will take to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The dean of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and UN undersecretary general, Robert C. Orr, argues that self-interest dictates that the United States must take the threat of climate change seriously. Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and award-winning journalist, assesses global health in a populist and nationalist age. But of all the macro trends likely to transform the world as we know it, the president of IREX, Kristin M. Lord, says the global youth boom is the one that merits special attention from policymakers.

Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth looks at the dangerous rise of populism, arguing that the best way to counter populist trends is by vigorous reaffirmation of human rights. Moisés Naím of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explains why democracies are at a disadvantage in cyber wars. And Richard Fontaine, the president of the Center for a New American Security, offers a roadmap for how the world’s leading power, the United States, can respond to today’s disorder and tomorrow’s global threats.

While this special anniversary issue of the journal is not filled with optimism, this great collection of thinkers offers sober analysis and essential policy corrections. The world’s leaders would be wise to follow their advice.

The Editors