I chatted about "America's global role in the COVID-19 era" with Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America, Professor Emerita at Princeton University, former director of policy planning in the US Department of State, and the author of several big-thinking books about public policy and international affairs. This interview was part of the Recovery Project.
After China violated Hong Kong’s legislative autonomy by imposing a new security law on the territory, the United States and its traditional allies did something remarkable — they agreed. But this display of solidarity was fleeting.
The US, UK, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all issued critical statements. However, President Donald Trump then quickly announced the United States would protest China’s action by ending America’s special trade relationship with Hong Kong, whereas the EU rejected punitive economic measures.
Trump further vowed the US would ‘terminate’ its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the grounds that the agency has become a Chinese instrument. Although other democratic nations have expressed misgivings at the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, many had implored Trump not to hobble the world’s main health agency in the midst of a global emergency.
Although this disunity may be unsurprising, it is sadly self-defeating. De...
A principal theme of international relations scholarship following the Cold War was the apparent erosion of state sovereignty caused by globalization's integrative effects and the proliferation of international institutions and networks. In recent years, however, scholars have noted a reverse trend: the reassertion of traditional, or Westphalian, state sovereignty. By contrast, I highlight another recent trend that has gone largely overlooked: the reaffirmation of older “extralegal” and “organic” versions of sovereignty by three of the world's most powerful states—Russia, China, and the United States. After tracing the genealogy of these older concepts, I consider how and why they have gained prominence in the official discourse of all three countries. I also explore the implications of this shift, which not only illustrates the importance of “norm retrieval” in international affairs, but also raises questions about the founda...
What is Donald Trump thinking? In one week he calls Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak’ and then proceeds to boast of his ‘terrific relationship’ with the dictator Kim Jong-Un. In just a few days, he riles America’s closest allies at the G7 summit and then signs a nuclear deal with the country considered one of the biggest threats to international security. The president’s critics say he is tearing up the rule book without considering the consequences. His supporters say a new approach to international diplomacy is long overdue. So which is it? Has President Trump decided to abandon the military and political alliances that structured the post-World War II liberal order – or is he simply reminding old allies not to take the United States for granted? Is ‘the West’ dead – or is the alliance mutating into one where the US has more space to put itself ‘first’. On the Re...
Interesting discussion with Janice Stein and Randall Schweller.
Blurb: "Between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, and every populist in between, the idea of sovereignty has become the guiding idea animating opposition to the post-WWII liberal international order. It underscores the belief that the national self-interest should continue to be the fundamental motivation in international behaviour without regard to any other considerations. The Agenda welcomes experts to discuss these ideas."
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has ushered in a period of unsettling uncertainty in international affairs. He has called the foundations of American foreign policy into question, but his precise intentions remain mysterious.
If Mr. Trump allows this uncertainty to continue — or worse, if he turns his back on U.S. allies and trading partners, as he has threatened to do — he risks harming America’s closest friends, empowering its rivals, and making the world even more dangerous.
Uncertainty during presidential transitions is nothing new. But this transition is different. During the campaign, Mr. Trump disavowed decades-old tenets of U.S. foreign policy. He cast doubt on America’s commitment to its allies, describing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as “obsolete” and suggesting that Japan and South Korea might want to acquire their own nuclear weapons.
He called for warmer relations with Russia at a moment when Moscow is working to...
President Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday marks the third major shift in United States counterterrorism strategy since 9/11, but it remains to be seen if the new approach will work better than the previous ones.
The first shift followed the 9/11 attacks, when George W. Bush launched what became known as the Global War on Terror. The main elements of this strategy included forcible regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq; mass deployment of US and allied ground forces to both countries; a global hunt for suspected Al Qaeda operatives and their incarceration in secret “black” prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency or in the US military facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” ordered by President Bush; and enormous growth in the domestic and foreign surveillance apparatus of the US and other Western countries.
The second shift occurred when Barack Obama took office. He had campaigned on ending the “dumb war” in Iraq and on con...
It was fitting that last weekend’s international donors’ conference on Afghanistan took place in Tokyo: The event resembled the city’s famous kabuki theatre, with its ritualized drama of grand gestures and hidden meanings.
The centrepiece of the meeting was a pledge by donors, including Canada, for $16-billion in development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years in exchange for the Kabul government’s commitment to fight corruption, among other things.
In fact, there is virtually no chance that the Afghan government will tackle corruption – and everyone knows it. President Hamid Karzai has made similar commitments for years, yet not a single high-level official has been convicted for graft, in a country whose public sector ranks as the third-most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.
The unspoken reality is that the United States, which drives international policy on Afghanistan, appears to have resigned itself to this kleptocracy. Back in...