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Britain Rattles Postwar Order and Its Place as Pillar of Stability

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 DarkKnightNomeD    2,079

Front Headline on Drudge ATM



Britain Rattles Postwar Order and Its Place as Pillar of Stability



LONDON — Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union is already threatening to unravel a democratic bloc of nations that has coexisted peacefully together for decades. But it is also generating uncertainty about an even bigger issue: Is the post-1945 order imposed on the world by the United States and its allies unraveling, too?

Britain’s choice to retreat into what some critics of the vote suggest is a “Little England” status is just one among many loosely linked developments suggesting the potential for a reordering of power, economic relationships, borders and ideologies around the globe.

Slow economic growth has undercut confidence in traditional liberal economics, especially in the face of the dislocations caused by trade and surging immigration. Populism has sprouted throughout the West. Borders in the Middle East are being erased amid a rise in sectarianism. China is growing more assertive and Russia more adventurous. Refugees from poor and war-torn places are crossing land and sea in record numbers to get to the better lives shown to them by modern communications.

Accompanied by an upending of politics and middle-class assumptions in both the developed and the developing worlds, these forces are combining as never before to challenge the Western institutions and alliances that were established after World War II and that have largely held global sway ever since.

Britain has been a pillar in that order, as well as a beneficiary. It has an important (some would argue outsize) place in the United Nations, and a role in NATO, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — the postwar institutions invested with promoting global peace, security and economic prosperity.

Now Britain symbolizes the cracks in that postwar foundation. Its leaving the European Union weakens a bloc that is the world’s biggest single market, as well as an anchor of global democracy. It also undermines the postwar consensus that alliances among nations are essential in maintaining stability and in diluting the nationalism that once plunged Europe into bloody conflict — even as nationalism is surging again.

“It’s not that this, in and of itself, will completely destroy the international order,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former American representative to NATO who is now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “But it sets a precedent. It is potentially corrosive.”

The symbolism was pointed in China on Saturday morning, two days after the British vote. In the packed ballroom of a Beijing hotel, China’s new international development bank held its first meeting of the 57 countries that have signed up as members. The new institution, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, is designed to give China a chance to win influence away from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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