[Viewpoint] G-20? More like G-Zero

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[Viewpoint] G-20? More like G-Zero

A new topic for discourse on the world order has emerged - G-Zero.

It may be an unpleasant idea to those supporting the Group of 20 system; it also could be a relief for some Group of Eight members that have conceded their power to the G-20.

People who are used to the G-20 argument may be perplexed to hear that there is no country that will lead the international order. This provocative idea is argued by Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer and New York University professor Nouriel Roubini in their article “A G-Zero World” in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs.

In the article, they said the G-20 is now experiencing discord because the 2008 economic crisis has calmed down. The sense of crisis disappeared, while the forum became a venue for conflict. The conflict in policies has brought about a world leadership vacuum during a critical time.

They also argued that a G-2 of the U.S. and China is not the answer because China has no interest in becoming a leader. A Washington consensus is no longer effective and there will be no Beijing consensus in the future.

They said a G-3 of the United States, Europe and Japan is also not an option, because Europe is focused on saving the euro zone, while Japan is mainly concerned with domestic and economic troubles.

They argued that we are living in a G-Zero world. No country or bloc has the political and economic leverage, or will, to push forward a global agenda.

The argument of a G-Zero world is a theory, but it is a topic that will be revisited again and again. It may be as respected as the theory of “The Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History,” who argued that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signal the end point of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government.

Does international order interlink with domestic politics? Monopolistic regimes with political parties at the center are now being shaken, perhaps because of lost trust in conventional systems due to the widening wealth gap.

Do our political parties still have the power to push forward their agendas? The Republican Party in the United States is depending on the Tea Party, while a civic activist became the liberal candidate in the Seoul mayoral by-election, representing liberal opposition parties. The Chinese Communist Party’s recent attempt to shed a new light on the Three Principles of the People (Nationalism, Democracy and the People’s Livelihood) by Sun Yat-sen, was perhaps to soothe those harboring dissatisfactions.

Based upon these developments is the revolution of information technology, and we are now living in an era of great divide.

So what will be the tasks of diplomacy?

The first will be the Korea-U.S. alliance. The opening of the new chapter of the alliance began with the U.S. Congressional passage of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.

In the 20th century, the U.S. Forces Korea and their weapons system were the trip wire of Korea’s defense. In the 21st century, the trip wire will be the exchange of money, resources and opportunities between the people. Jobs are more powerful than weapons.

It is critical to strengthen relationships with countries that respect freedom, human rights, democracy and market economy. The four are the visions of a unified Korea.

Shuttle diplomacy between leaders of Korea and Japan is also important. Japan is the third largest superpower and a neighbor that shares Korea’s values. There is no reason for Korea to avoid the new joint declaration that Japan wants.

It is also important to bolster ties with China and Russia. Black and white thinking will only make the division of the Korean Peninsula permanent.

In this new era, public diplomacy has become more important. The era of diplomacy between governments is now over. Why did Washington chose to send Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, a former peacekeeper to Korea, to Seoul? Why did she travel Korea on her bike? Why did Washington chose to name Sung Kim, a Korean-American, as her successor?

To gain public sentiment.

It is right for the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to focus its power on having multifaceted diplomacy? The issue is how to distribute resources and attention. The egalitarian principles among the ministries and the monopoly of power without a governance philosophy are the biggest obstacles for Korea to expand its opportunities and sovereignty. The new world wants new thinking.

*The writer is an editor of foreign and security affairs at the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Oh Young-hwan
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