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2021.09.17 戈登-布朗谈建立新的多边主义的必要性

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The future of American power
Gordon Brown on the need for a new multilateralism
If the world can’t distribute covid vaccines equitably, how can it respond to other global challenges? New forms of co-operation are needed, says a former British prime minister

Sep 17th 2021

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By Gordon Brown

This By-invitation commentary is part of a series by global thinkers on the future of American power—examining the forces shaping the country’s global standing, from the rise of China to the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Read more here.

The year 1945 saw the end of a war, the start of the atomic age and, arguably, the birth of multilateralism. A weapon that was so devastating forced world leaders—and an anxious public—to realise that countries must co-operate or perish. Today, we live not just in the shadow of nuclear arms but in the intensity of climate change and a pandemic, reminders of the fragility of our existence. If multilateralism did not exist, we would need to invent it. But just when we need more multilateralism we have less. As the world faces vast challenges, we need to reconstruct the nature of international co-operation so that it is effective and responds on the timescale that is required.


The crisis of covid-19 vaccine distribution illustrates our problem. Western countries currently hoard hundreds of millions of doses that could immediately save lives in poor countries, where only 2% of people have been vaccinated. By December, there will be a surplus of at least 1bn vaccines. This betrays a fundamental weakness on the part of developed countries to come together to do what is right. No other single peacetime decision by world leaders can save so many lives in such a short time.

President Joe Biden’s vaccine summit on September 22nd, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, should agree to transfer the West’s unused vaccines and swap delivery dates to secure earlier distribution of doses to the unvaccinated. Doing so is not just morally right but in the West’s self-interest, for if it fails to vaccinate the poor as widely as the rich, the virus will mutate and new variants will haunt us all, including the vaccinated.

Too often, global co-operation is seen as a zero-sum game, where one country’s gain is another country’s loss. But delivering global public goods and preventing beggar-thy-neighbour policies—in this case, combating infectious diseases and avoiding medical protectionism—are areas where global co-ordination is necessary and effective.

Bridging the vaccine gap should have been the starting-point of a new multilateralism in which countries, accepting common obligations, agreed to work together for shared goals. But the failure compels us to ask: if we cannot solve the relatively straightforward problem of vaccine distribution when we have a surplus of supplies, how will we ever meet other complex challenges, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, cybersecurity and tax havens, which also require a global response?

A neocolonial vaccine fiasco
The crisis in international co-operation has been long in the making. Consider the Group of Seven, a club of the world’s biggest developed economies. Its communiqués once moved markets, determined exchange rates and were decisive in setting global levels of growth and employment. As recently as 2005, under Britain’s chairmanship, the group made history by agreeing to wipe out $40bn of debts for the 18 poorest countries (later expanded) and double aid to Africa. But more recently, the g7 has been notable for what it has not achieved, hitting a low in 2018 when President Donald Trump stormed out of a meeting in Canada. Leaders could not even agree on an insipid press statement.


The latest g7 meeting in Cornwall, hosted by Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, was an opportunity to revive the group as an engine of multilateralism in the service of global values. Cometh the hour, cometh the man —or so it could have been. Covid-19 and the recession thrust upon the g7 a new responsibility at the intersection of economics and geopolitics, as a precursor to other global challenges like climate change.

The meeting provided the platform that America had wanted, to show global leadership and expose what it considered to be the opportunism of China, whose own vaccine diplomacy—to supply its home-grown doses only to its favoured friends, and charge excessive prices to the rest—was dividing not uniting the world. By redirecting their surplus vaccines through covax, an international programme to give doses to poor countries, America and Europe could put a Western-led multilateral approach at the heart of the pandemic response.

However, the summit ended with a meek initiative to give just 870m vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, and only by next summer. Three months on, covax has received donations of a mere 100m doses. In August it was discovered that a signatory to the initiative, the European Union (where around 65% of people were vaccinated), was airlifting out millions of vaccines manufactured in Africa (where only 4% were vaccinated).
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Read more:
• Arundhati Roy on America’s fiery, brutal impotence
• Minxin Pei on why China will not surpass the United States
• Niall Ferguson on why the end of America’s empire won’t be peaceful
_______________

All the sins of the colonial era, for which the West had repented, were, it seemed, being revisited on contemporary Africa. The West was sucking resources out of the continent; denying Africa the means to create an indigenous manufacturing capacity by stalling on technology transfer, patent waivers and licensing agreements and offering only the equivalent of crumbs from the rich man’s table. At a time when 1.5bn vaccines are being produced monthly and Africa’s need for vaccines is most urgent, it has taken until September for the eu to agree to replace the doses it took out of Africa.

The fiasco demonstrates just how much multilateral co-operation has taken second place to vaccine nationalism. Failure to transform the miracle of science into inoculations for all makes it difficult for the West to claim moral standing. If the West cannot co-ordinate the delivery of a global public good it controls and is hoarding, profound questions arise about its ability to lead generally. The g7 cannot be held responsible for the breakdown of multilateralism. But it certainly can be held responsible for not resisting protectionism and for being oblivious to the blindingly obvious need to be a global force for good.

Lost hegemony
Over the past two decades, the world has witnessed the rise of a defensive nationalism across both liberal and illiberal countries. There has been an onslaught of tariffs, border and immigration controls and the building of walls, fences and barriers that separate countries. More recently a new form of tribal nationalism has become aggressive: America first, China first, India first, Russia first, and so on. “The future does not belong to globalists—the future belongs to patriots,” intoned President Trump to the un general assembly in 2019.

During its unipolar moment from the 1990s to 2010s, America generally acted multilaterally; in a multipolar age, America under Mr Trump invariably acted unilaterally. Although President Biden promises multilateral co-operation, his geopolitical convictions—and his view that China has made politics a zero-sum game—have taken precedence over standard economic theory that champions the mutual benefits from trade and open interactions. Yet global problems require global responses, whatever the state of international relations.


America can no longer define itself as the sole sphere of influence in this new multipolar world, nor should it have to face the world on its own. But to paraphrase for a new context the words of Dean Acheson, America’s postwar statesman: America has lost its hegemony but not yet found a role. Its reflex is still to act unilaterally as if we are in a unipolar age when it should be the leader of a new multilateralism for a multipolar age.

The country has to imagine a world in which it is no longer the only superpower. It will be one where, as events in Afghanistan have shown, no nation, however powerful or wealthy, can unilaterally dictate its wishes to the world. It needs to be a world where the leaders of great powers can make things happen by coming together—and in this multipolar age, the world’s best hope remains an essential measure of American leadership. If it does not want to be the world’s policeman, it can be the world’s problem-solver: indispensable less because of the power of its force than for the force of its example.

Many people look beyond nation-states to international institutions for global leadership, from the United Nations to the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and so on. I do not doubt the benefits that these bodies can and do deliver. But in my experience of 25 or so g7 and g20 summits of finance ministers and heads of state, the big make-or-break decisions cannot be made by these institutions—it needs the active engagement of the leaders of the major powers. Though a growing “plurilateralism”—in which nonprofit groups and businesses are at the table with governments—helps to tackle global problems, it can never undo the damage if leaders fail to lead.

From statecraft to collective action
Over time we can restructure the global decision-making process (and elsewhere I have set out ideas on how to do it), but the current geopolitical environment is not ready for the overhaul that the international system now needs. A better place to start is with practical issue-by-issue co-operation to confront the most urgent challenges. So in the short term, there is no alternative but to make the g7 and g20 work better.

The g20 suffers from the absence of a formal secretariat, too narrow a membership and it may face difficulties when, in quick succession, Indonesia, India and Brazil chair it (two of them for the first time). The g20’s power depends most of all on there being at least the semblance of a g2: China and America finding ways to work together. In the current standoff, joint g20 initiatives on, say, cyberspace, debt restructuring and the management of the internet, will be difficult to achieve and there is a real risk of a future of “one world, two systems”.

But because this is not a cold war, there is still hope that, despite tensions over Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights and technology, both countries can agree on substantial actions on climate change, macroeconomic co-ordination and global health—such as a new financing instrument for pandemic preparedness.

The g7 faces its own moment of truth, as critics wait to see if rich nations, which uphold liberal values within their borders, are prepared to support those values outside their borders too. Were they to do so, the Summit for Democracy that President Biden plans to convene for democratic renewal worldwide might start to look credible.

But first, the g7 must become a motor of multilateralism—starting with vaccine distribution and collaboration. It will not be built on the lofty idealism of 1945 but on a practical realism to confront global challenges for which there is no alternative to collective action. ■
__________

Gordon Brown was Britain’s prime minister in 2007-10. He is the author of “Seven Ways to Change the World” (Simon & Schuster, 2021).




| 美国力量的未来
戈登-布朗谈建立新的多边主义的必要性
如果世界不能公平地分配牛痘疫苗,那么它如何能应对其他全球挑战?英国前首相说,需要新的合作形式

2021年9月17日


作者:戈登-布朗

这篇应邀发表的评论是全球思想家关于美国力量的未来的系列文章的一部分--审视塑造美国全球地位的各种力量,从中国的崛起到从阿富汗的撤出。在此阅读更多内容。

1945年见证了一场战争的结束,原子时代的开始,可以说是多边主义的诞生。一种极具破坏性的武器迫使世界各国领导人和焦虑的公众意识到,各国必须合作,否则就会灭亡。今天,我们不仅生活在核武器的阴影下,还生活在气候变化和大流行病的阴影下,这些都提醒着我们生存的脆弱性。如果多边主义不存在,我们就需要发明它。但就在我们需要更多的多边主义的时候,我们却少了。当世界面临巨大的挑战时,我们需要重建国际合作的性质,使其有效并在所需的时间范围内做出反应。


Covid-19疫苗分配的危机说明了我们的问题。西方国家目前囤积了数以亿计的疫苗,这些疫苗可以立即挽救贫穷国家的生命,而这些国家只有2%的人接种过疫苗。到12月,将有至少10亿支疫苗过剩。这暴露了发达国家在团结起来做正确事情方面的根本弱点。世界领导人在和平时期做出的任何一项决定都无法在如此短的时间内拯救如此多的生命。

乔-拜登总统于9月22日在联合国大会期间举行的疫苗峰会上,应同意转让西方国家未使用的疫苗,并交换交货日期,以确保更早地将疫苗分配给未接种疫苗的人。这样做不仅在道德上是正确的,而且符合西方国家的自身利益,因为如果它不能像富人那样为穷人广泛接种疫苗,病毒就会发生变异,新的变种将困扰我们所有人,包括接种疫苗的人。

很多时候,全球合作被视为一种零和游戏,一个国家的收益就是另一个国家的损失。但是,提供全球公共产品和防止以邻为壑的政策--在这种情况下,防治传染病和避免医疗保护主义--是全球协调的必要和有效领域。

缩小疫苗差距本应是新的多边主义的起点,各国接受共同的义务,同意为共同的目标共同努力。但这一失败迫使我们问:如果我们不能在供应过剩的情况下解决相对简单的疫苗分配问题,我们将如何应对其他复杂的挑战,如气候变化、核扩散、网络安全和避税天堂,这些也需要全球应对?

新殖民主义疫苗的惨败
国际合作的危机已经酝酿了很久。想想七国集团,一个由世界上最大的发达经济体组成的俱乐部。它的公报曾经推动了市场,决定了汇率,对确定全球增长和就业水平具有决定性作用。最近在2005年,在英国的主持下,该集团创造了历史,同意为18个最贫穷的国家免除400亿美元的债务(后来扩大),并将对非洲的援助增加一倍。但最近,七国集团因其未实现的目标而引人注目,2018年,当唐纳德-特朗普总统在加拿大的一次会议上冲出会场时,七国集团陷入了低谷。领导人甚至无法就一份平淡无奇的新闻声明达成一致。


由英国首相鲍里斯-约翰逊主持的最近一次七国集团会议在康沃尔举行,这是一个振兴该集团的机会,使其成为为全球价值服务的多边主义的引擎。时机到了,人也到了--或者说可能是这样。Covid-19和经济衰退给七国集团带来了经济和地缘政治交织的新责任,是气候变化等其他全球挑战的前奏。

这次会议提供了美国想要的平台,以展示全球领导力,并揭露它认为是中国的机会主义,中国自己的疫苗外交--只向它喜欢的朋友提供本国生产的剂量,而向其他国家收取过高的价格--正在分裂而不是团结世界。通过covax这一向贫困国家提供疫苗的国际计划,美国和欧洲可以将西方主导的多边方法置于大流行病应对措施的核心位置,从而调整其剩余疫苗的方向。

然而,峰会结束时只提出了一个温和的倡议,即向世界上最贫穷的国家提供8.7亿支疫苗,而且只在明年夏天之前。三个月过去了,covax只收到了1亿剂的捐赠。8月,人们发现,该倡议的签署方欧盟(约有65%的人接种了疫苗)正在空运在非洲生产的数百万支疫苗(那里只有4%的人接种了疫苗)。
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阅读更多。
- 阿伦达蒂-罗伊谈美国的火热、残酷的无能为力
- 裴敏欣谈中国为什么不会超过美国
- 尼尔-弗格森(Niall Ferguson)谈美国帝国的终结为何不会是和平的
_______________

西方已经忏悔的殖民时代的所有罪过,似乎正在当代非洲重现。西方从非洲大陆吸走了资源;通过拖延技术转让、专利豁免和许可协议,剥夺了非洲建立本土制造能力的手段,只提供相当于富人餐桌上的面包屑。在每月生产15亿支疫苗、非洲对疫苗的需求最为迫切的时候,欧盟直到9月才同意替换它从非洲拿走的剂量。

这一惨败表明,多边合作在多大程度上被疫苗民族主义所取代。如果不能将科学的奇迹转化为所有人的预防接种,西方就很难声称自己具有道德地位。如果西方不能协调它所控制和囤积的全球公共产品的交付,那么它的总体领导能力就会受到深刻的质疑。七国集团不能对多边主义的崩溃负责。但它肯定要为没有抵制保护主义和无视成为全球正义力量的明显需要而负责。

失去的霸权
在过去的20年里,世界目睹了自由主义和非自由主义国家的防御性民族主义的崛起。关税、边境和移民控制以及建造隔离国家的围墙、栅栏和壁垒等措施不断涌现。最近,一种新形式的部落民族主义已经变得咄咄逼人。美国第一,中国第一,印度第一,俄罗斯第一,等等。"未来不属于全球主义者--未来属于爱国者,"特朗普总统在2019年的联合国大会上说。

在20世纪90年代至2010年代的单极时代,美国通常采取多边行动;在多极时代,特朗普先生领导的美国总是采取单边行动。虽然拜登总统承诺进行多边合作,但他的地缘政治信念--他认为中国已经把政治变成了零和游戏--已经优先于标准的经济理论,后者倡导贸易和开放互动带来的互利。然而,无论国际关系的状况如何,全球问题都需要全球应对。


美国不能再把自己定义为这个新的多极世界的唯一势力范围,也不应该独自面对这个世界。但是,在新的背景下,套用美国战后政治家迪安-艾奇逊的话来说。美国已经失去了它的霸权,但还没有找到一个角色。它的条件反射仍然是单边行动,好像我们处在一个单极时代,而它应该是一个多极时代的新多边主义的领导者。

这个国家必须想象一个它不再是唯一的超级大国的世界。正如在阿富汗发生的事件所表明的那样,在这个世界上,任何国家,无论多么强大或富裕,都不能单方面对世界发号施令。它需要成为一个大国领导人能够通过联合起来使事情发生的世界--在这个多极时代,世界的最大希望仍然是美国领导力的一个基本措施。如果它不想成为世界的警察,它可以成为世界的问题解决者:与其说它的力量是不可或缺的,不如说它的榜样力量是不可或缺的。

许多人把目光投向民族国家之外的国际机构,从联合国到世界贸易组织、国际货币基金组织等等,以寻求全球领导。我并不怀疑这些机构能够而且确实带来了好处。但根据我参加25次左右的七国集团和二十国集团财长和国家元首峰会的经验,重大的决定性因素不能由这些机构作出,而是需要大国领导人的积极参与。尽管日益增长的 "诸边主义"--非营利组织和企业与政府坐在一起--有助于解决全球问题,但如果领导人未能发挥领导作用,它永远无法消除损害。

从治国之道到集体行动
随着时间的推移,我们可以重组全球决策过程(我在其他地方提出了如何做到这一点的想法),但目前的地缘政治环境还没有准备好进行国际体系现在需要的改革。一个更好的起点是逐个问题的实际合作,以应对最紧迫的挑战。因此,在短期内,除了让g7和g20更好地发挥作用之外,别无选择。

20国集团缺乏一个正式的秘书处,成员范围太窄,而且当印度尼西亚、印度和巴西(其中两个是第一次担任主席)接连担任主席时,它可能面临困难。20国集团的力量主要取决于至少有一个2国集团的样子。中国和美国找到了合作的方式。在目前的对峙中,g20在网络空间、债务重组和互联网管理等方面的联合倡议将难以实现,未来确实存在着 "一个世界,两种制度 "的风险。

但是,由于这不是一场冷战,尽管在台湾、香港、人权和技术方面存在紧张关系,两国仍有希望在气候变化、宏观经济协调和全球健康方面达成实质性的行动--比如为大流行病的防范提供新的融资工具。

七国集团面临着自己的关键时刻,因为批评者在等待,看那些在其境内坚持自由价值观的富国是否也准备在其境外支持这些价值观。如果他们这样做了,拜登总统计划为全球民主复兴而召开的民主峰会可能会开始显得可信。

但首先,七国集团必须成为多边主义的发动机--从疫苗分配和合作开始。它不会建立在1945年的崇高理想主义之上,而是建立在应对全球挑战的实际现实主义之上,而对于这些挑战,除了集体行动,别无选择。■
__________

戈登-布朗在2007-10年担任英国首相。他是《改变世界的七种方法》(Simon & Schuster, 2021)的作者。
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