On January 10th, 2013, GMF’s Brussels office launched Global Swing States – Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the Future of International Order, a new report by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The discussion featured Dr. Daniel M. Kliman, Senior Advisor for Asia at GMF and Dr. Alfredo G.A. Valladão, a Brazilian professor currently based at Sciences Po in Paris. It was chaired by Dr. Ian O. Lesser, senior director for foreign and security policy and the executive director of GMF’s Brussels office. The debate was attended by over 60 diplomats, EU officials, think-tankers, corporate representatives and academics.
The international order faces numerous challenges, from the Iranian nuclear threat and maritime piracy to paralysis in the Doha multilateral trade negotiation. Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey—with their economic vibrancy, geographic placement and the democratic nature of their governments—could play crucial roles in combatting those challenges and upholding the global order. Whether or not they do so is dependent on the ability of the United States and Europe to encourage support for some, or all, of what the report refers to as the key pillars of the global order—trade, finance, maritime commons, nonproliferation and human rights.
Alfredo Valladão observed that the Global Swing States framework could be reflective of the fact that the United States has become a conservative power: as Washington perceives an increasingly powerful China it seems set on maintaining the international order without questioning its principles or offering countries it would choose to have as its partners a say in the decision making process. Instead, a tighter engagement with these four states looks a lot like multiplying “coalitions of the willing” which will undermine the relevance of platforms like the United Nations. Daniel Kliman, in response, emphasized the Global Swing States should be approached as core partners, not as auxiliaries in a U.S.-centrist strategy. Closer engagement with these four countries should be as much about helping them pursue their interests as about securing those of the U.S. and Europe.