A readily measurable aspect of globalization is the increasing exchange of capital, products and services across national boundaries, spurred by expanded use of container shipping and other technological improvements as well as falling barrier. The interdependence is most apparent with global supply chains, as manufactured goods like vehicles and electronics are assembled with components produced around the world, and it’s increasingly rare for any country to be the sole source of any one complex product. Countries aim to increase exports but worry about too many imports and trade imbalances, even as their consumers pursue low prices. Disagreements on subsidies, tariffs, quotas or unfair practices are debated by the World Trade Organization.
The links between security and globalization were highlighted by the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, and the subsequent long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lingering poverty, inequality, religious extremism and war can sow discontent and resentment as unprecedented global mobility lends access to education and travel in other countries. Despite use of drones, cyber-warfare and other advanced weapons technology to mount counterterrorist attacks, the marginalized can strike out at vulnerable urban or economic centers. Annual global defense spending exceeds $1.6 trillion. Containing the trade in weapons, whether nuclear bombs or assault rifles, and preventing them from falling into the wrong hands remain a challenge.
As governments confront many challenges that are global in scale, leaders find they must cooperate in responding to financial, climate, terrorism and other crises. As a result, a global audience has developed keen interest in how and why nations select their leaders. On one hand, citizens expect sensible and collective action, transparency and fair representation; on the other hand, citizens and leaders fret about compromising security, sovereignty or loss of control. Diplomats and global organizations like the United Nations aim to achieve a balance, even as global communications allow citizens in democracies or authoritarian states to steer attention to issues. Attention to citizen demands and multilateral cooperation contribute to stability.