US global role is shaped by events at home | Columns
We don’t often think that the way the United States behaves at home has much of an effect on how we deal with the world, but it does.
You would be amazed at how much people around the world are following events here and relying on the United States to lead.
When it’s clutter at home, it’s hard to maintain the strength and willpower to turn our attention outward.
Doing so is particularly important at this time because what we call “the international order” is under strain. And if we are divided and unstable at home, it will be much more difficult to respond appropriately.
The international order is essentially the set of structures and values that have evolved during the twentieth century to resolve disputes, promote free trade, support economic development, foster contacts and exchanges between nations and their citizens. and protect human rights.
It is based on mutually negotiated rules and initiatives which, in a well-functioning world, are promoted by institutions such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Organization world health and others.
Nowadays, it’s fair to say that there is no aspect of the order that we once took for granted that is not at least questioned. This is in part because China and Russia are asserting their interests and often actively working to undermine ours. And the role of the United States is less important than it once was.
Our allies, especially after the four years of the Trump administration, are uncertain of our commitment to global leadership as we have questioned long-standing alliances, withdrawn from institutions, withdrawn from international agreements and, in general, withdrawn from the network of alliances and agreements. that we had helped shape in previous years.
Naturally, our friends and allies wonder how much they can count on us, and our opponents are eager to test us.
At the same time, forces beyond the control of any government are reshaping the world situation. Nationalism is stronger, conflicts between countries appear to be escalating, and many societies grapple with increasing diversity, declining tolerance and a shift towards authoritarianism.
Overall, international power is less concentrated and more widely distributed, which presents challenges for global institutions and makes it more difficult to pursue much-needed reforms within them.
In this situation, it is crucial that democracies recognize the important role they play in maintaining and revitalizing international order. It is by no means a given that it can last, but democracies have an advantage: For many people around the world, more authoritarian alternatives are not particularly appealing.
Even so, the work of strengthening the world order will require a concerted effort that combines both cooperation and firmness. We need to strengthen our alliances, of course, as well as consolidate and expand arms control efforts. The fight against authoritarianism in all its facets will be a permanent challenge. And we must constantly assess how best to be a benevolent world power, helping to resolve conflicts and slow to use force – not excluding it, but building on it wisely and only when necessary.
Our strength on all of these fronts will come from making sure that we are strong at home: that our economy is strong, that our finances and debt are manageable, that our elections are fair and well run, that our infrastructure is revitalized, that we invest in the future of our businesses, and we are investing in the future of the American people by focusing on education and skills development.
If we can do all of this, then we will have earned the right to rule the world to meet the challenges facing the international order.