New Rules for New Powers?

I found this article by Philip Stephens in the Financial Times very thought provoking – and they are certainly right about the universal derision expressed for Turkey and Brazil taking on their role in the Iran nuclear dispute.  How successfully the older powers are able to adjust and adapt to the changing environment is just as important as the actions of these growing centers of influence.

The off-stated ambition of western governments is that the world’s rising powers should bear some of the burden of safeguarding international security and prosperity. The likes of China, India and, dare one say, Turkey and Brazil, are beneficiaries of a rules-based global order and, as such, should be prepared to contribute. They should, in a phrase coined some years ago by Robert Zoellick, act as stakeholders in the system.

Seen from Ankara or Brasilia, or indeed from Beijing or New Delhi, there is an important snag in this argument. They are not being invited to craft a new international order but rather to abide by the old (western) rules. As I heard one Chinese scholar remark this week, it is as if the rising nations have been offered seats at a roulette table only on the strict understanding that the west retains ownership of the casino.