President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Ditch the ‘Rules-Based International Order’

February 08, 2024
Andreas Kluth

 This is a summary of an article originally published by Bloomberg.

The author, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, writes:

  • People have laid down their lives for love, freedom, justice, the fatherland and more. But nobody has ever died clutching the banner of the Rules-Based International Order. It’s time to junk that cliche, and replace it with something more fitting.
  • That’s not only because the term is an Orwellian linguistic atrocity with all the emotive oomph of a Powerpoint slide. It’s also a shibboleth that, when used by American diplomats in particular, makes US foreign policy look hypocritical, from the Middle East to Africa, Asia and beyond.
  • Biden and his diplomats talk up the rules-based international order so much that Stephen Walt at the Harvard Kennedy School, a scholar in the hard-nosed “realist” tradition, has mocked the turn of phrase as a “job requirement.”
  • The world is skeptical about this American shtick, especially in Africa, Asia and South America, where countries are feeling — and often resisting — pressure by Washington to align with the West against Russia and China.
  • My advice to Biden and other Western leaders is to send out a staff memo: Drop the rules-based international order in all speechifying, and instead pledge fealty to international law. Then hold Russia, China and Iran accountable to that standard — but also Israel and, yes, even the US when necessary.

Read the full article on Bloomberg's website.


Andreas Kluth

Andreas Kluth is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering US diplomacy, national security and geopolitics. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global and a writer for the Economist.

Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, unless otherwise stated. Photo by The White House shared under a US Government works license.