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Universal Values and Foreign Policy

For nearly a century, the international system has experienced challenges that were existential and radical in nature. These challenges were primarily ideological: Fascism in the early twentieth century, Communism in the second half, global terrorism after that, and now we are experiencing an uneasy lull in systemic challenges of human origin, but threats do loom over the horizon. The first two challenges came from a coalition of countries that sought to transform the norms and values that dominated the international order underwritten by Western nations, specially under the hegemony of English-speaking nations — first the United Kingdom and then the United States. These challenges did not alter the balance of power or undermine the norms that have governed the global order. They both failed. Fascism was defeated in World War II (1939–45) and Communism via the Cold War (1945–89). One reason for the endurance of the current global order is its value system. Even though this value system gradually emerged as a system of multilateral global governance that privileged democracy and democratic processes, it has since remained at the core of the ideologies that have united, empowered, and kept Western nations hegemonic for such a long time.