In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, two luminaries of the U.S. foreign policy establishment make a provocative, seductive but ultimately unpersuasive case for creating a new “global concert of major powers” for the 21st century, modeled on the Concert of Europe. The authors are Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan—my boss and my colleague, respectively—at the Council on Foreign Relations. I’ve learned an immense amount from both of them over the years. But in the interest of vigorous debate, let me suggest that their nostalgia for the 19th century is misplaced. The anachronistic mechanism they propose would not cure what ails global governance and could well create more problems than it resolves.

Their argument is straightforward and might seem compelling at first. The era of Western material dominance and ideological supremacy is over, making it futile to defend the liberal international order. At the same…

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