- From abandoning the Kurds to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and Iran Deal to attacking NATO, President Trump has undermined the post-Cold War international order and diminished America's influence around the world.
- So it's time to think about how we should rebuild the trust with out allies and shape the world once Trump is out of office, whether that's in a few months or a few years.
- Brett Bruen was the director of global engagement in the Obama White House and a career American diplomat. He runs the crisis-communications agency Global Situation Room.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
How will we put international institutions back together when Donald Trump finally leaves office?
Whether his departure comes in a matter of months or years, the damage he wrought will be considerable. Leaders both in the US and abroad need to begin drawing up plans. A bold new strategy and structure is required to restore a semblance of stability and security around the globe.
America's influence has dramatically declined during the Trump Administration. Under this president, the US abandoned the Kurds on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, left the Paris Agreement on climate change, pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and dumped the Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump wants to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization and even threatened to leave NATO.
The US left our allies in the lurch and their trust in our leadership has diminished. In order to repair our world, America's allies must begin to believe again that we can serve as a reliable partner again.
That being said, even if Joe Biden is elected president, there is no reset or returning to where we were before. Confidence cannot easily be restored in the old system. Power dynamics have shifted. The world has drastically changed. We need a new model to manage strained relations between countries.
'A post-American period'
I've talked a lot in recent years about how we are entering a post-American period. It's one where we no longer play a pivotal or as powerful a role. Instead, there are spheres where we exert influence and new alliances are formed. This is the harsh reality to which Americans must now adjust. Our role is a dramatically diminished one.
Multilateral bodies also needed to change. For years, the United Nations has lacked the resources and political support to adequately address increasingly complex global crises. Giving five nations a veto on the Security Council was never going to be sustainable. Serving in Africa, I saw firsthand how the UN's peacekeeping operations did little to resolve conflicts and restore democratic control to countries. After decades of trying, aid programs have too often failed to abate hunger or poverty.
So, what comes next? We need to adopt more of a federated model. China, Russia, and their client states are not going to play by the same ol' rules. Nor should they be allowed to enjoy the same privileges. By creating an exclusive club, the United States and its allies can make more progress, while also incentivizing better behavior by those outside of our alliance. It would not replace other organizations, but it might help them move faster and farther.
The West will have to build back gradually. It should begin by reinforcing relationships with key allies. Regaining their trust will involve far more humility and honesty about our past, as well as present failings. We have to do a better job of listening, instead of just listing off our demands. Relationships need to be more equitable and the United States should be ready to compromise.
Together, they can build what I will call the Freedom Federation. For the first time, combining European countries like the UK and Ireland, with Latin American nations like Chile and Colombia, along with Asian partners from Australia to Japan. The vision would be more than a trade or security bloc. Its aspirations ought to extend beyond diplomatic declarations.
It could take collective action to address a wide range of threats from climate change to corruption. Unlike NATO, it would be more than a military alliance and have members from across the planet. Founded on common values, the Federation could act more quickly than larger multilateral groups when those principles were endangered. Rather than producing more pathetically watered-down statements, they could actually take stronger steps.
The world needs a collection of countries that can take more aggressive action in the face of today's complex crises. It would serve as a powerful counterweight and deterrent against Russia, China, along with other nations or groups who seek to undermine the international order. The United States would also benefit significantly from once again working in close concert with its allies. Our path to rehabilitation on the world stage runs through places like London, Tokyo, and Bogota.
The Trump presidency shocked the post-Cold War system. It exposed some of the outdated institutions and traditions. It also created major new problems and inflicted significant damage on global structures.
With the United States at its weakest point in the modern era, the options for overhauling the international order are more limited. Creating a coalition like the Freedom Federation, would represent an important recognition of our need to rebalance relationships and a step towards restoring our standing in the world.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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