Political News

Former US ambassador to NATO: The United States is 'no longer the most important actor'

Posted January 12, 2019 3:09 p.m. EST

— Former US ambassador to NATO and current president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Ivo Daalder, says the United States is "no longer the most important actor" on the world stage.

"In 2017...the United States was a major, major presence in the mind of global leaders. It mattered what the US thought, did, or didn't do. I'm not clear that in 2021, the world's leaders will still be thinking about what the United States is going to do," Daalder told David Axelrod on The Axe Files, a podcast from CNN and The University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

Here are three tenets Daadler stressed regarding the United States' role in foreign affairs:

1. What happens beyond the US will "have an impact" on what happens inside [US] borders.

In the 1990s, "you had a series of crises—Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia—that brought to the forefront this idea that, maybe you couldn't ignore what was happening in the world. And you really had to start thinking about how to deal with the world in a way that made sure that American leadership...was necessary."

2. "The world looks to the United States to be there."

The United States "doesn't have the luxury as, frankly, every other country has, to ignore what's happening in the world, only to focus on what's happening here."

In his book "The Empty Throne: America's Abdication of Global Leadership," Daalder, with his co-author James M. Lindsay, explores American diplomacy in the era of President Donald Trump and its impact on the postwar world order.

One possible outcome of the current administration's foreign policy strategy, according to Daadler, is "no one really takes control, and that you return to a world...where everybody is seeking their own advantage, their own sphere of influence, their own ways of trying to get control...of everything that is necessary for them to succeed in the competition of power."

3. The United States is "better off at ending wars than building peace."

Daalder does not think the United States has "the capacity to forge peace on our terms in Syria."

"I do think we have the capacity, military and otherwise, to go after ISIS. But once you have achieved that, then what? How long do you need to stay? How long is our commitment? These are fundamental questions that presidents...must answer for themselves, and the nation should debate."