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Photo: Topical/Getty

The world order established after WWII is under attack and looks unlikely to survive intact, experts tell Axios.

Yes, but: The new conditions could have positive aspects. Here are thoughts about the new century from experts we spoke with.

Adam Posen, president, Peterson Institute for International Economics:

"I believe that we could get back to the pre-crisis world and local order in much the way we rebuilt trust and institutions after Vietnam and the 1960s/early 1970s protest movements. It is not inevitable, but if the Western neo-fascists of today and the Chinese and Russian governments overplay their hands, there will be an opportunity to rebuild. Establishing dependable trust in economic arrangements, particularly with respect to U.S.-set standards and to long-term investment, will be slower to rebuild than direct trade and security relationships. In fact, the WTO and trade may go on without the U.S. But the stability and opportunity for developing countries and the U.S. itself will be reduced."

Karen Harris, managing director, Bain Macro Trends Group

"Despite rhetorical panegyrics about the current global system, China seems unwilling or unable to step into the keystone role that the United States has held for decades — offering unlimited access to its consumer base, running structural deficits, and accepting international norms of legal and IP protection.It is highly unlikely we relinquish our interest in being a Pacific power as well as an Atlantic power — the unique two-ocean front that makes the United States unusually motivated in everything that goes on across Eurasia. The perpetual undercurrent of U.S. foreign policy remains the containment of any potential trans-continental rival, and China’s rise has captured the attention of U.S. foreign policy, even if the strategy remains hotly debated and unsettled."

William Burns, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"There is still a historic window before us, in which American pre-eminence and disciplined leadership can help shape a new world before others shape it for us. This is a transformative moment on the international landscape. There is a greater diffusion of power among states, with the rise of China, the resurgence of Russia and the return of Great Power rivalry. Wider challenges are accelerating, from climate change to the revolution in technology.The United States still has a better hand to play than anyone else. We have advantages not only in military power, but in continuing economic, technological, demographic and diplomatic strengths — and in our capacity for self-repair. Our challenge is to play that hand wisely — and not squander our advantages through muscular and erratic unilateralism, eroding the alliances and coalitions that set us apart from lonelier powers like China and Russia."

Roberto Stefan Foa, professor, University of Melbourne

"There are benign scenarios — something like a return to the recent past — and less- benign scenarios. If we think about what events might lead to less-benign outcomes, then certainly we have to consider the possibility of a new Cold War, with the world economy increasingly divided between two competing superpowers, as well as the fraying of the international institutions that have upheld the postwar western world, notably the European community and NATO, as a result of populist nationalism. These are certainly the trends of the last few years, and while I don't believe in linear extrapolation, I do believe in path dependency — that the actions set in place now are likely to have lasting historical repercussions."

Go deeper

Biden to sign executive orders focused on women's rights

President Biden. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden will sign executive orders Monday establishing a Gender Policy Council and directing the Department of Education to review the federal law Title IX, according to administration officials.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is signaling its priorities to advance gender equity and equality as women, particularly women of color, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3 hours ago - World

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter outlining a plan to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban that the U.S. is "considering" a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan outlet TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: In the letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, also obtained by Western news outlets, Blinken expresses concern that the Taliban "could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid, as he urges him to embrace his proposal.

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conversation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.