Global Alternatives 2024
The Great Unravelling: The Political West and the Erosion of the Charter International System

(This is a modified version of an article to be published in the China International Strategy Review)

Summary: In 1945, humanity came together to create the Charter International System. It expressed the hope that after the most catastrophic war the world had yet seen, a superior system of international relations could emerge. The ‘spirit of 1945’ gave rise to the United Nations and its foundational Charter, reinforced subsequently by numerous declarations, protocols and conventions. The system delivers many public goods, including the system’s specialised agencies, but above all by establishing the normative and legitimate framework for the conduct of international politics. The Charter system today faces unprecedented challenges. The tension between the multilateralism and normative aspirations for peace and development represented by the Charter system and the competitive practices of international politics has become a contradiction and possibly an antinomy – an irreconcilable difference. The creation of competing blocs (world orders) in Cold War 1 prevented consensus on fundamental matters, but all sides proclaimed their allegiance to the Charter system. When the Soviet bloc disintegrated in 1989-91, the Charter system faced a new challenge – the striving for global hegemony of the remaining world order, the Political West led by the US. This bloc claimed certain tutelary privileges, formulated initially in terms of a ‘liberal international order’ and later in the form of the ‘rules-based order’, over the Charter International System. This generated conflicts and even wars but is today countered by the emergence of a Political East. Cold War II is more challenging and dangerous than the first, above all because of the threat to very existence of the Charter systems and its norms.


An international system endows an era with the normative framework for the conduct of international politics. An international system is a combination of norms, procedures and institutions, with the latter not necessarily formalised; whereas in the sphere of international politics, constellations of states create distinctive world orders, reflecting their vision of how states should be governed and interact. In 1945, following a second catastrophic world war in a single generation, the world came together to create the Charter International System, with the United Nations at its heart. An international system in the modern era is universal, while the separate world orders reflect the distinctive cultures, civilisations, ideologies and geopolitical concerns of their creators.

During Cold War I, the US created a political order of its own, the Political West, while the Soviet Union established a communist bloc. The dissolution of Soviet communism and the disintegration of its associated world order in 1989-91 gave rise to a single-order world (sometimes characterised as unipolarity). Without the constraining influence of a near-peer competitor, the Political West radicalised and claimed to be universal (Mearsheimer, 2018, 2019; Walt 2019). In so doing, the Political West (otherwise known as the liberal international order or the rules-based order, although the terms are not entirely commensurate) established itself as a rival to the international system in which it was ostensibly embedded. This in turn generated a countermovement, with Russia, China and some middle powers in the lead. China formally rejects bloc politics, despite aligning with other states, and hence will not establish a ‘world order’ of its own based on alliance ties, although dependencies are not excluded. A ‘Political East’ is in the making, balancing the Political West while repudiating the logic on which it is based.

In keeping with realist thinking, Henry Kissinger (2014) famously failed to distinguish between order and system. As far as realists are concerned, the shifting patterns of alliances, hostilities and balances of power at the level of international politics represent the entirety of what matters in international relations. This is a rather immiserated representation of international affairs. The Charter International System is certainly nothing akin to a world government, but it does provide the normative framework in which international politics is conducted (cf. Bull, 1977/1995). Even the hardest of realists acknowledge the fundamental role of international law, although state interests take priority. For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that international affairs are also structured by two other significant domains (in addition to the international system and international politics): the world of international political economy, and the sphere of transnational civil society and social movements. Their distinctive dynamics and interactions with the other domains will not be addressed in this paper. The focus, instead, will be on the divergence between systemic norms (the values and ‘spirit’ represented by Charter internationalism) and the practices of contemporary international politics. The Charter International System faces the deepest crisis since its inception, and as a result international politics is becoming increasingly ‘anarchic’ (Sakwa, 2023a).

Contradictions between the principles of Charter multilateralism and the practices of international politics in Cold War II are sharper than ever. The discrepancy between sovereign internationalism, in which respect for sovereignty and pluralism is tempered by commitment to Charter values, and democratic internationalism, the expansive and illiberal view of international politics, shapes international affairs. This is the metapolitics of our era, prevalent across all domains. The clash between world orders, particularly the US-led rules-based order (i.e., the Political West), and the nascent Political East alignment of Russia, China and some other states, is augmented by ontological contestation at the structural level. A multi-order world at the level of international politics may be emerging (Flockhart 2016), otherwise described as multipolarity (although the two are not synonymous), but this is accompanied by threats to the international system itself. This was not the case in Cold War I, and explains why Cold War II is so much deeper and more intractable. The palpable ideological differences of Cold War I, with capitalist democracies pitted against the legacy powers of revolutionary socialism, in this light appear as relatively superficial. Cold War I was conducted within the framework of the Charter International System (however much observed in the breach), whereas Cold War II is about the system itself. This double conflict, operating simultaneously at the level of system and orders, imbues the conflict with unprecedented depth, while at the same time remaining amorphous and protean. Cold War II is more challenging, pervasive and dangerous than the first.

Cold war contradictions redux

Two models of world order are derived from contrasting ideas of how international affairs should be conducted, the sovereign internationalist vision versus the democratic internationalist ideal. These diverging representations are gaining an increasingly sharp spatial (geopolitical) profile. On one side there is the world order represented by the restless and expansive Political West, making claims that subvert the prerogatives of the Charter international system. The ideology of democratic internationalism brooks no compromises (at least, when it comes to adversaries), and undermines the accustomed practices of diplomacy. Liberal hegemony lacks a territorial ethnonym, but it is not spaceless or timeless. My argument is that after 1945 a specific type of power system took shape. The Political West created during Cold War I was shaped by cold war practices and its survival after 1989 precisely perpetuated those cold war characteristics. It claimed victory in the Cold War, but that very framing was not only problematic but also destructive of the very victory that it claimed. Cold War was perpetuated rather than transcended, which was no victory at all.

Instead of dissolving at the end of Cold War I, as neo-realists assumed alliances should do once they had achieved their goal (Waltz 1993), the Political West not only continued but enlarged to encompass most of Europe, with the notable exception of Russia. The logic of cold war was thereby perpetuated, with disastrous consequences. Expansion was accompanied by deepening. Without the constraining influence of bipolarity, one of the blocs created in Cold War I now claimed tutelary rights over the system. The US had always been wary of subordinating its foreign policy autonomy to an external agency. This was the reason for the Senate failing to ratify US membership of the League of Nations in 1920. By contrast, after 1945 the US was a founder member of the Charter system and invested in its development, in the belief that the legitimacy of US actions would be enhanced when sanctioned by an international authority (Wertheim 2020). However, the US always reserved the right to act independently, and it did so in the majority of Cold War I conflicts. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and its alliance system, the unipolar era was marked by a great substitution. Liberal hegemony acted as the substitute for Charter norms and the pluralism that they represent. Democratic internationalism was advanced as morally superior to the relative ethical neutrality represented by sovereign internationalism. Not accidentally, it also reinforced the geopolitical authority and political power of the Political West.

Democratic internationalism emphases human rights, free markets and liberal constitutionalism. This represents a radical cosmopolitan vision of liberal internationalism that would ‘transform the old global system – based on the balance of power, spheres of influence, military rivalry, and alliances – into a unified liberal international order based on nation-states and the rule of law’ (Ikenberry 2020, p. 140). The concept of a ‘liberal international order’ amalgamates distinct categories into a single all-encompassing ‘order’, combining the systemic and the political, as well as the political economy and even societal domains. The implicit assumption is that this is the only viable order, incorporating the Charter system. This means that there can be no legitimate ‘outside’ to such an order. The autonomy of the Charter system is reduced to nought, and international law subsumed into a specific order. Outsiders are no more than applicants in the waiting room of history, becoming supplicants as they wait for entry into desired order. Old socialist ideas of progress on the temporal plane was displaced by a geospatial representation of modernisation and development. Even classical conservative ideas that each society must generate the political order appropriate for its level of development and characteristics was supplanted by this new revolutionary ideology.

This is a ‘monist’ view, assuming that the liberal international order is the only viable one on offer. Monism simply means the rejection of the pluralist sovereign internationalist view that the world is made up of different types of legitimate social systems (regime types), reflecting societies at different levels of development and with different historical trajectories and needs. The concept of a liberal international order is just another way of describing democratic internationalism’s idea of teleological development. This is redolent of the discredited unilinear modernisation ideas of the 1950s and 1960s, in which the more advanced societies purportedly show the less developed their future. Modernisation at the time was taken to mean Westernisation on the US model, a view that has long lost its credibility. Nevertheless, the ideology of democratism remains influential. Democratism is the instrumental application of democratic norms in the service not of the democratic preferences of an actually existing demos but of an idealised representation of these preferences (Finley 2022; Sakwa 2023b). Democratism is to democracy what dogmatic Marxism-Leninism is to socialism.

The Political West

The Political West is intolerant of external challenges. Despite rhetorical support for pluralism and tolerance, it intrinsically generates Simpson’s ‘liberal anti-pluralism’. Democratic internationalism generates neo-containment practices against potential rivals, couching great power concerns in the supposed structural antagonism between democracies and autocracies (cf. Mearsheimer 2014). This makes the Political West inherently hermetic – deaf to the appeals of outsiders. Diplomacy is about dialogue and compromise, but in the Manichean world of cold war politics, complex issues are simplified, and dialogue is considered a reward to be doled out sparingly only to those considered deserving of the privilege. Compromise is considered the betrayal of virtue, and diplomacy is regarded as tantamount to appeasement. For the neoconservative partisans of democratic internationalism, it is always 1938.

The universalist ambitions of the US-led Political West means that the practices of international politics increasingly diverge from Charter norms (Devji 2024). The notion of a ‘liberal international order’ makes sense in terms of power politics and the development of a globalised economic order, but it presumes a distance from the international system in which it is rooted. During Cold War I the parallel systems coexisted, since excess ambitions were constrained by the existence of a powerful military and ideological alternative. This rival order, indeed, prompted the Political West to implement reforms drawn from the adversary to maintain its own viability. The creation of welfare states in Western Europe had deep internal roots, but rivalry meant that domestic constituencies had to be placated to avoid alienation and sympathy for the enemy, which offered an alternative model of social development. Even the US was affected by this dynamic, although tempered by the prosperity generated by the permanent war economy and an all-encompassing informational ecosystem.

With the constraints removed, the Political West went into over-drive. The language of unipolarity, of ‘the indispensable nation’ and ‘exceptionalism’ rendered sovereign internationalism redundant. In the economic sphere, the imperatives of globalisation allegedly compressed time and space into a new dimension. The universalistic aspirations of liberal hegemony transcended histories and traditions. The rules-based order not only assumed an identity separate and distinct from the Charter system, but even presumed a higher status than the Charter system because of its ambition to advance the democratic internationalist agenda. The UN was marginalised in the bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was unable to resolve the deepening crisis of European security. NATO enlargement in technical terms may have been rational, but in substantive terms it represented the repudiation of the idea of indivisible security embedded in the fundamental agreements regulating the European security order in the post-Cold War era, and even earlier. The tension in the Helsinki Final Act of August 1975, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe of November 1990, the Istanbul declaration of November 1999 and the Astana Declaration of December 2010 between ‘indivisible security’ and ‘freedom of choice’ reflected the larger contradiction between sovereign and democratic internationalism. The UN became an arena for the airing of divisions rather than a forum for their resolution. The divergence between Charter norms and the practices of international politics provoked the return of interstate conflict to Europe.

The Political East         

On the other side there is the loose alignment that we call the Political East, bringing together states defending sovereign internationalism. The notion of a Political East can be dismissed as little more than yet another invention of Western thinking, in line with ‘the West versus the rest’ tropes. If the Political East is envisioned as no more than an anti-Western construct, with a vision of world order sharply at odds with that of the West, then the critique may be justified. In practice, the situation is rather different. To the degree that the Political West conforms to the ideas of the Charter system and its foundational principle of sovereign internationalism, the two alignments can find common cause and cooperate. However, when the Political West advances democratic internationalism, positions itself as somehow superior to the Charter system, and asserts its hegemony in cold war terms, then we can conceptualise the Political east not as an anti-West but as its counter: repudiating the logic of cold war and hegemonism, accompanied by defence of the Charter system to advance a positive peace agenda. At its sharpest, this includes the revival of Third International-style anti-colonialism and anti-fascism. Many swing states in the Global South are sympathetic to this agenda. None, however, are ready to enter bloc politics of the sort represented by the Political West, and thus repudiate the idea of creating a Fifth International of anti-Western (and by implication illiberal) powers. By its very essence the Political East is an amorphous and contingent set of alignments, although grounded in ideological contiguity.

The core of the nascent Political East is the Sino-Russian alignment, an unprecedented phenomenon. Two great powers, perhaps better described as civilisation-states, with divergent although entangled histories, have come together in a novel manner. Sometimes described as a quasi-alliance relationship, its foundation is a common approach to international politics. This was reflected in the wording of the Joint Statement of 4 February 2022, issued by President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin when they met at the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The statement condemned the attempt by ‘certain states’ to impose their ‘democratic standards’, asserting that China and Russia both have ‘long-standing traditions of democracy’. Hence, ‘it is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their state is a democratic one’. The statement condemned ‘further NATO enlargement’ and called on the alliance to ‘abandon its ideologised Cold War approaches’. Above all, the statement affirmed the centrality of the UN Charter and the UDHR as ‘fundamental principles, which all states must comply with and observe in deeds’ (Joint Statement, 2022). Russia’s longstanding critique of US exceptionalist and hegemonic ambitions was now joined by a China intent on asserting its status as a global power. The statement rejected the notion that the two countries were ‘global autocracies’ out to subvert Western liberal democracies and instead appealed for pluralism in an international system based on Charter principles (cf. Simpson, 2001). Order in international affairs could only be established on this basis. The alternative was disorder and permanent conflict.

Not all commentators in the Political East hold this view. An influential group argues that the rupture with the Political West at the level of international politics should be extended to a break with the international system in its entirety (Karaganov, 2024). The mainstream view in the Political East remains committed to making the Charter system work as originally intended. This view is no longer restricted to Russia and China. It is echoed in all the fundamental statements of the BRICS+ organisation, consisting of the five original members (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and four new members as of 2024: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates (Argentina refused the invitation and Saudi Arabia deferred its application). It is also reflected in the statements of the SCO, currently uniting eight countries: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and six ‘dialogue partners’: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey. The mere enumeration of these countries demonstrates the utility of the concept of a ‘Political East’. It encompasses the distinctive dynamics of Northern Eurasia (formerly described as the post-Soviet space), Central Asia, Southwest Asia (once known as the Middle East), East and South Asia, as well as the Global South (once described as the Third World). This is reflected in the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) aligning integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Within the Global South, the Non-Aligned Movement has been revived. First outlined at the Bandung conference in 1955 then formally established in Belgrade in 1961, NAM reflects the desire of the Global South to remain aloof from renewed cold war blocs. Others are considered ‘swing states’, aligning with one side or the other depending on the issue. Overall, the Political East reflects the maturation of the international system, within whose framework decolonisation was conducted in the postwar years. Although still burdened by neo-colonial legacies, the 200 countries now making up the inter-state system firmly defend and assert their sovereignty. At the same time, sovereignty is tempered by commitment to Charter internationalism, and thus is far removed from the statist fundamentalism considered a hallmark of the Westphalian international system.

The Charter system under threat

After 1989, the Political West radicalised. In the absence of a peer competitor in conditions of unipolarity, the ambitions of the Political West expanded and became intolerant of challengers. US leadership in international politics was expected and routine, but the post-Cold War urge towards primacy was something else. Undersecretary of defence for policy, Paul Wolfowitz, in early 1992 produced a notorious paper that came to be known as the doctrine bearing his name, later formulated as the Bush Doctrine. The Wolfowitz document was imperial in tone and proclaimed a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military interventions to counter threats to American dominance. The core postulate was ‘to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power’ (Wolfowitz 2000, p. 309). This is a classic principle of offensive realism, as outlined by John Mearsheimer (2014), and wholly rejects the normative dimension represented by Charter multilateralism. Instead, the so-called ‘rules-based order’ was counterposed to the Charter system. This act of substitution not only undermined the prerogatives of the UN-based system, but in the end even eroded the legitimacy and functionality of the Political West itself.

The relative stability ensured by the common understanding that the UN and its norms were the gold standard for international behaviour, long eroded, may finally be crumbling (Barabanov et al, 2018; see also 2022). A great substitution is in train. Instead of the US-led Political West remaining a sub-set of the Charter system, it now claimed directive prerogatives that properly belonged to the system itself. These claims were couched in terms of a ‘rules-based order’, implying that the Charter system did not adequately provide for globally applicable rules and norms. The inordinate prerogatives claimed by the sub-system were roundly condemned by Russia, China, the Political East more broadly and many states in the Global South. They were branded as a revived manifestation of neo-imperial ambitions and the traditional hegemonism of the West. The substitution of a part for the whole generated resistance. For the Political West, hegemony was the price to pay in defence of democracies against resurgent autocracies. This framing generated bloc discipline on the one side while stigmatising opponents on the other. By inserting itself as the adjudicator and rule-enforcer, the ‘rules-based order’ threatened the viability of the Charter system in its entirety. The great substitution has several effects.

First, it undermines the very idea of sovereign internationalism, the foundation of the Charter system, and thus erodes these foundations. The rights and interests of a state are judged legitimate only to the degree that they conform to the rules and norms advanced by the rules-based powers. This self-referential aspect of democratic internationalism assumes a higher source of legitimate international authority. The appeal to ineffable and incontestable natural rights is adjudicated not by the UN or international law but by the rules-based powers – in other words, by the Political West itself. The great substitution marginalises the UN and its agencies. For example, over the decades the General Assembly adopted 180 resolutions on the Palestine issue and the Security Council 227, but Israel consistently violated the stipulations. The Security Council’s paralysis over wars in Palestine, Syria and Ukraine undermines the credibility of the UN as a whole. Multilateral institutions are ill-equipped to deal with such crises in international politics. As one commentary puts it as the war in Gaza after the 7 October 2023 atrocity dragged on, killing over 30,000 in the first five months, half of whom were women and children: ‘Israel, with the backing of the US and the various pilot fish that follow it, has begun – or resumed, better put – a concerted attack on the UN, global justice, and altogether on international public space’ (Lawrence 2024). In the heartland of Europe, the public sphere has ‘been cranking up the old mechanism of sanitising Germany by demonising Muslims’ (Mishra 2024, p. 11). The wars in Palestine and Ukraine intensified continuing discussion about the redundancy of the UN as the supreme voice of the international community (e.g., Klimkin and Umland, 2020). This was accompanied by calls for Russia to be stripped off its permanent Security Council seat (Carpenter 2023). This is something new and highlights how Cold War II is far more pervasive and dangerous than the first.

A second outcome flows from this, namely the stifling of diplomacy. If human rights are an absolute value, then an absolutist political practice is appropriate – how can there be comprises with evil? The Manichean black-and-white divisions of Cold War I have been taken to a wholly new level. The struggle between communism and capitalism was comprehensible and easily mobilised against the adversary, but today the lack of precision (how to define a democracy or an ‘autocracy’, and how to distinguish between friends and foes) generated an intense arbitrariness feeding into systemic practices of double standards. In Cold War II, double standards are not an epiphenomenon of hegemony but a systemic feature of an imperial mode of governance. Russia’s war in Ukraine was condemned, but Israel’s mass slaughter of innocent civilians in Gaza and the West Bank at most mildly censured.

Third, the encroaching global anarchy generates mimetic violence, which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of status and militarised conflicts. Fear that the other side is insidiously subverting the domestic order generates mimetic contagion, scapegoating and repression. René Girard (2003) identified the victim mechanism as sustaining social order by redirecting violence to the scapegoat and appropriative mimesis. He considered the imitation of the desire to possess an object (which includes status and identity) a characteristic of humans throughout the ages (see Palaver 2013). The ritualised mimetic violence of scapegoating relieves a society of accumulated tensions. The symbolic allocation of responsibility for social ills to a particular subject deprives them of the most basic right, the right to life. The scapegoating principle is a universal phenomenon, although it takes many different forms (Girard 2005; Girard and Freccero 1989). As far as Moscow is concerned, the prevalent Russophobia in the Political West (significantly, the Global South is largely immune) is a token of the scapegoating mechanism at work, with Russia held responsible for subverting Western democracies and a host of other ills. The Kremlin naturally is no stranger to the mechanism, holding the West responsible for stirring up domestic dissent and thus discrediting legitimate opposition.

Fourth, the struggle for mastery over Charter institutions has intensified. The Political West increasingly votes as a disciplined bloc in the Security Council while deploying all manner of techniques, including bribery and intimidation, against recalcitrant powers to ensure that they vote the right way. This reduces the UN and its institutions to an instrument of cold war and great power rivalry, and thereby undermines its autonomy and efficacy. As China assumed more leadership roles in multilateral agencies and organisations, including the World Bank and IMF, the Political West fought back. By 2021 China led four of the UN’s 15 specialised agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Telecommunications Union, the UN Industrial Development Organisation, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. This prompted a coordinated response by the Political West, fearing that the so-called ‘revisionist’ powers were subverting liberal order from within: ‘They [the revisionist powers] begin by calling for reform of existing institutions, but over time the “salami slicing” of ‘existing rules and norms can create significant weaknesses in international institutions that undermine the broader institutional order’ (Goddard 2022, p. 35). As the Political East shifted from rule-taker to rule-enforcer, the hegemony of the Political West eroded. Sergei Lavrov (2022), the Russian foreign minister, observed that ‘the Americans have shown a tendency to privatise the secretariats of international organisations. They place their people in leading positions. To our great regret, they have influence over countries voting on personnel decisions. Americans are rushing round the world. What sovereign equality of states?’. A case in point is the alleged ‘privatisation’ of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by agents of the Political West, preventing impartial investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere (Maté 2019).

Fifth, the intensifying crisis of Charter multilateralism encourages the creation of alternatives and the bifurcation of international politics. The Political West did this within the framework of the rules-based order, seeking to entrench its power within an alternative constellation. This included the idea of creating a ‘League of Democracies’, the first steps towards which were annual ‘summits of democracy’. The Political East focused initially on creating alternative financial institutions and institutions in which the views of the non-Western powers were constitutionally entrenched. The world can be seen as dividing, on the one side, between defenders of ‘empire’, the tutelary role of the US and its allies over the multilateral institutions of the Charter International System, and on the other side, advocates of ‘commonwealth’, the belief that a better order of international politics is not only possible but essential, if humanity is to survive the various calamities it faces – ranging from irreversible and runaway climate change to the nuclear Apocalypse. This division in broad and far from consistent terms corresponds to ‘historical divisions between colonizing states and colonized states and ethnic/cultural divisions between “white” states and “non-white” states’ (Lawrence 2024). Russia now positions itself at the head of a renewed anti-colonial drive, while the US and its allies are presented as avatars of a new-style liberal imperialism.

Sixth, the perennial debates over reform of the UN system. There are increasing demands for UN reform, above all by expanding the permanent members of the Security Council to include, at the minimum, India, Brazil and at least one representative from Africa (de Zayas 2021. The absence of some major powers and regions from the Security Council undermines its credibility. Another important idea is changing the balance of responsibility between the Security Council and the General Assembly. There are many more ideas, but the enduring issue of UN reform is no closer to resolution today than it was in the past (Gordanić 2022).


The Charter International System is threatened as never before. Globalisation is fragmenting into at least two potential streams, accompanied by the general degradation of diplomacy and an intensified polarised culture of international politics. Sanctions have become not an alternative to war but a way of conducting hostilities. Given the deadlock in the UN Security Council, the only universally legitimate source of sanctions and other global managerial and deterrence policies, nations have turned to the creation of alternative blocs and alignments to achieve their goals. The war in Ukraine from 2022 and the Israel-Hamas war from 2023 signal the breakdown of the aspirations for an enduring post-Cold War peace. The Political West is eroding its own foundations. If Cold War I was largely fought within the framework of the Charter system, today Cold War II is about the survival of that system. Earlier, when the authority of the UN was flouted and its norms breached, there was a general awareness that some offence had taken place. Today this consensus is unravelling. Unmoored from the Charter system, the hegemonic ambitions of the Political West are exposed as never before, provoking a countermovement that is changing the character of international politics in their entirety.


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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.