Every Nation for Itself | Ian Bremmer

Summary of: Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World
By: Ian Bremmer


In a world grappling with extraordinary domestic problems, Ian Bremmer’s ‘Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World’ takes a deep dive into the shifting global landscape. The book examines how internal challenges have made even powerful countries reluctant to assume international leadership roles. Bremmer analyses the declining cooperation among nations, the impact of protectionist policies on global challenges, and the odds of various countries thriving or floundering in a G-Zero world. Brace yourself for an insightful exploration of the consequences of a leaderless world and the roles the United States and China might play in shaping our future.

Leadership Void in a Troubled World

When faced with overwhelming domestic challenges, countries often become hesitant to lead on a global scale – yet crucial international problems demand united solutions. Both developed and emerging powers find themselves grappling with significant domestic concerns, from massive debts and aging populations to economic development and social security. Amidst these struggles, countries are reluctant to step up and take the reins on urgent international issues such as climate change. The Copenhagen Climate Summit highlights this unwillingness to lead, with neither old nor new powers prepared to take responsibility for addressing future pollution. Currently, no single nation or alliance possesses the political and economic clout needed to create the change our world desperately requires, leading to grave consequences on a global scale.

Food Protectionism’s Global Consequences

Our interdependent world faces pressing challenges that can damage international relations and hinder global progress. A prime example is food protectionism, where nations prioritize their own food security and self-interest at the expense of cooperative efforts. Adverse weather conditions driven by climate change cause poor harvests, leading to soaring food prices. As observed from 2007 to 2008, elevated prices of corn, wheat, and rice resulted in countries like Russia and Argentina limiting exports to maintain domestic supplies. This type of protectionism hinders economic growth, weakens diplomacy, and obstructs international cooperation. Import barriers can discourage competition, hampering innovative solutions that boost yields and affordability. A case in point is the E.coli incident in Germany, where false accusations against Spain strained diplomatic relations and led to Russia banning fresh vegetable imports from the European Union. Such scenarios illustrate the dangers of a “G-Zero world” where governments prioritize self-interest over collaboration, threatening our collective ability to overcome global challenges.

Thriving in a G-Zero World

As we continue into a world lacking in international leadership, the economic and political landscape will shift, breeding winners and losers. Countries like Brazil and Turkey that can cultivate independent opportunities and establish multiple robust relationships without relying on a single ally will thrive in this G-Zero landscape. In contrast, nations such as Japan and Mexico, which have historically depended on the United States, may struggle in an era where Western-led globalization loses power. Ultimately, the ability to adapt to a leaderless world will determine success or failure during these turbulent times, until a new era of global leadership emerges.

In this increasingly uncertain global landscape, countries that prioritize self-sufficient opportunities and strike diverse, productive partnerships will emerge as the victors in the G-Zero world. Brazil and Turkey serve as prime examples of “pivot states.” Brazil, once heavily reliant on the United States for trade, expanded and diversified its partnerships, with China becoming its most significant trading partner in 2009. Similarly, Turkey stands as an invaluable asset to both the United States and the European Union and boasts trade relations with Israel unmatched by any other country in the Muslim world.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, countries like Japan and Mexico may suffer setbacks as they continue to operate as if the world follows a US-led unified market. Japan’s military and economic protection relies heavily on its ties with the United States, and as China’s regional influence expands, this reliance could prove detrimental. Likewise, Mexico’s prosperity is heavily hinged on its neighboring superpower, drawing substantial income from oil exports and US tourism.

The global shift from Western-led globalization over the past thirty years has dramatically altered the playing field. The G-Zero world demands that nations develop the agility to navigate a leaderless international landscape. While this era of uncertainty is undoubtedly challenging, the very problems it poses necessitate the emergence of new global leadership solutions, bringing the G-Zero period to an eventual close.

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