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Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing when We Need It Most

Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing when We Need It Most

Thomas Hale, David Held, Kevin Young

ISBN: 978-0-745-66239-8 June 2013 Polity 368 Pages


In Stock




The issues that increasingly dominate the 21st century cannot be solved by any single country acting alone, no matter how powerful. To manage the global economy, prevent runaway environmental destruction, reign in nuclear proliferation, or confront other global challenges, we must cooperate. But at the same time, our tools for global policymaking - chiefly state-to-state negotiations over treaties and international institutions - have broken down.

The result is gridlock, which manifests across areas via a number of common mechanisms. The rise of new powers representing a more diverse array of interests makes agreement more difficult. The problems themselves have also grown harder as global policy issues penetrate ever more deeply into core domestic concerns. Existing institutions, created for a different world, also lock-in pathological decision-making procedures and render the field ever more complex. All of these processes - in part a function of previous, successful efforts at cooperation - have led global cooperation to fail us even as we need it most.

Ranging over the main areas of global concern, from security to the global economy and the environment, this book examines these mechanisms of gridlock and pathways beyond them. It is written in a highly accessible way, making it relevant not only to students of politics and international relations but also to a wider general readership.

Figures viii

Boxes and Tables x

Abbreviations xii

Preface xvii

Introduction 1

The Postwar Legacy 4

Overview 9

1 Gridlock 14

Building the Postwar Order 18

Explaining the Postwar Order: Hegemony versus

Institutions 21

The Effect of the Postwar Order: Self-Reinforcing

Interdependence 25

Roads to Gridlock 34

Conclusion 48

2 Security 49

Introduction 49


The Interstate System 51

Postwar Developments: From the UN to the Cold War 55

Institutional Developments and Successes 65

Shifting Principles of Global Order 72

Post-9/11 Global Security 81


The UN Security Council and the Disarmament Regime 85

Complex Intermestic Issues 93

Paradigm Shift or Realist Status Quo? 105

Conclusion 112

3 Economy 113

Introduction 113


The Imperial System and Its Demise 116

Bretton Woods and the Creation of Multilateral Economic Institutions 120

Self-Reinforcing Interdependence and the End of Bretton Woods 130


Gridlock in Multilateral Trade Negotiations 154

Gridlock in Global Financial Governance 162

Global Financial Governance Reform 171

Conclusion: A Reembedded Global Market? 182

4 Environment 189

Introduction: A Zanjera for the Globe? 189


Industrial Globalization and the Origins of Modern Environmental Governance 194

Postwar Internationalization 198

The Modern Environmental Movement 201

An Environmental “Bretton Woods”? The Stockholm Compromise and UNEP 206

Early Successes, Lingering Challenges 215

A New Foundational Moment? From Compromise to Gridlock at Rio 226


Self-Reinforcing Interdependence and the Global Environment 232

Forests 237

Climate Change 251

Conclusion: Increasingly Linked Problems, Increasingly Fragmented Governance 269

5 Beyond Gridlock? 273

From Self-Reinforcing Interdependence to Gridlock 276

Trends toward Deepening Gridlock 279

National Trends and Gridlock 286

The Changed Global Landscape 296

Pathways through Gridlock 300

Politics beyond Gridlock 306

Notes 312

References 319

Index 350

"A must-read for those thinking about a better global governance."
Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization

"Their book is convincing, well written, and sobering."
Perspectives on Politics

"International institutions are less and less able to solve global problems even as we need them more and more. Gridlock offers a lucid and concise set of explanations for the dysfunction we observe across the security, economic, and environmental arenas. Best of all, by identifying systemic patterns of failure and the underlying causes, the authors are able to put forward a useful set of practical solutions. A great read for policymakers and experts."
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University

"There is no shortage of books that make the case for global cooperation; this one explains why we are not getting it. Ranging over international security, the global economy, and the environment, this excellent and sensible book elucidates why our global commons is becoming increasingly unmanageable, as a result in part of the very success of the post-war international system."
Dani Rodrik, Harvard University

"An eye-opening and encouraging book. Not only does it present an analysis of why global cooperation is failing, but it also offers pathways out of gridlock."
Ulrich Beck, University of Munich

"In Gridlock, Thomas Hale, David Held, and Kevin Young offer an ambitious and sweeping treatment of contemporary global issues that combines sociology, political economy, and international relations."
Peter M. Haas, University of Massachusetts Amherst

"It is an accessible, pleasant read thanks to its eloquent prose and remarkable storytelling."
Global Policy
  • A major new book examining the break-down of global cooperation and policy making
  • The authors argue that challenges such as runaway environmental destruction and nuclear proliferation have to be dealt with on a global stage and necessitate new forms of transnational cooperation
  • Written by scholars at the forefront of international and transnational policy studies, the book examines the mechanisms of gridlock and how global issues penetrate ever more deeply into core domestic concerns
  • This highly accessible book will be of great interest to students of politics and international relations as well as a general readership