The recent Hamburg G20 Summit was yet another setting where all eyes were on Trump. And in contrast to recent Summits, journalists, especially American journalists, had all eyes focused laser-like on the German Summit and in particular on the first public meeting of President Trump and Russia’s President Putin. It was all great spectacle!
Fortunately, I had the good luck to have the opportunity to sit down with with Janice Stein, the founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs to assess the liberal international order following the Hamburg G20 Summit. Janice and I had the chance to examine Trump’s actions: to evaluate the impact on allies and adversaries, Trump policy in the Middle East, North Korea and of course Trump’s behavior with Putin.
Come and listen to this Global Summitry podcast with Janice Stein, Episode 13, in the continuing series on ‘Shaking the Global Order: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump.’
So, I was struck almost immediately by the headline in the Atlantic blog on the Hamburg G20. It turns out that the post was by my good friend Tom Wright from Brookings. The headline – “The G20 is Obsolete”. Just as I thought but so soon after Hamburg!
Tom’s defense – when I caught him – he didn’t write the headline, which I suspect is perfectly true – but really. At least a protest!
My only immediate reposte -“you had better hope not” that is at least with respect to the conclusion. Now, Tom generally edges to the realist side when examining the liberal internationalist order, but I was surprised by the vehemence. Take this line:
But the divisions in the G20 run far deeper than frustration with Trump: The body itself is a vestige of a world that no long exists.
Whoa. That’s strong!
I suspect we’ll hear, once the dust settles a little on the chaos of the G20 Hamburg Summit, a litany of allegations that the Hamburg Summit reveals the irrelevance of the G20 in the Age of Trump. Au contraire my ‘ill-observant friends’.That is certainly not the conclusion one should draw from this most recent G20 Summit, even in the ‘Age of Trump’.
There is likely to be varying views of the progress arising from the Hamburg Summit. Our colleague Jonathan Luckhurst at Rising Powers in Global Governance posted a blog titled, “Hamburg G20 Summit Reaffirms Decentralizing Global Authority”.
Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy is only very slowly being revealed. But this week will see an important addition. On Thursday and Friday President Trump will be meeting China’s President Xi Jinping. This meeting represents a crucial first meeting of the leaders though we have seen Secretary of State Tillerson in Beijing recently. But Tillerson remains an enigma and it is not at all clear that he has the ‘ear ‘ of President Trump. This week we will see Donald Trump at the center of American foreign policy making with arguably the most relationship in the global order.
We have been working hard at the Global Summitry Project to chronicle and evaluate the impact of Trump on the Liberal Order. Much of our effort can be seen at the Oxford’s journal, Global Summitry: Politics, Economics and Law in International Governance. The Journal is a partnership of the Munk School and the Rotman Management School. I am one of the Senior Editors there. We have just launched a new podcast series – ‘Shaking the Global Order: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump. Our first podcast episode, this an interview with Rory MacFarquhar a former Obama official, has just appeared. In celebration of the series, we have added the podcasts to iTunes and Soundcloud. Also, take a look at our analysis of Trump foreign policy: “Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy that its impact on the Liberal Order” that just recently appeared at the OUPBlog,
Where will Trump take the United States? And where will he take the Liberal Order? It remains an open question. Former Prime UK Minister, Tony Blair writing recently in the NYT about the politics of the centre and the challenges and pressures being experienced to both centre right and centre left parties raised the key issue:
The question is, will this be a temporary phase, perhaps linked to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and Sept. 11, and will politics soon revert to normal, or has a new political age begun?
With the change in US Administrations we face possibly the most dramatic change in US foreign policy since the end of World War II. The global leader has seemingly become the rogue seeking dramatic change in the Liberal Order the US has as much or more responsibility for over the last seventy years plus.
As has quickly become clear, however, we do not know if President’s Trump rhetoric of the campaign will be followed by actions matching the rhetoric. There is some reason to think that his and his administration’s actions will not match some of the more highly nationalist expressions of his ‘America First’ rhetoric. One need only look at Trump’s early statements and actions on China – phoning the Taiwan President, then questioning the ‘One China Policy’ only to reaffirm the policy in a call with China President Xi Jinping – to raise questions even doubts over the election rhetoric. But even without dramatic foreign policy actions it is not hard to see Trump and his Administration as possibly the greatest challenge to the Liberal Order that any of us have witnessed.
I will be periodically examining US foreign policy, and the policy toward the Liberal Order it and by key actors -supporters and detractors alike – hoping to assess the impact of the policies and actions on the Liberal Order. The first entry is the piece I was invited to post at the US-China Focus website. There will be others. In addition, as Senior Editor of Oxford’s Global Summitry: Politics, Economics, and Law in International Governance, I intend to post a series of podcast interviews with experts and former officials on: ‘Shaking the Global Order: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump’. I will back to you on additional posts and the podcast series.
Image Credit: abcnews.go.com
Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org
There is shock and incredulity following the victory of the ‘Leave’ vote in Britain. I will let my colleagues who follow closely the EU to pick up the threads of both this negotiation and the future of this supranational institution. There will be much analysis over this difficult exit and the reduction of the EU from 28 to 27, though it may well be that it will return to 28 if Scotland decides it unprepared to leave the EU.
But let’s turn to the implications of the British exit on larger global order questions. The vote to leave immediately brought to mind the phrase that adorns this post that my colleague at Brookings, Tom Wright used to describe Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The post from Brookings (June 3, 2016) was using Hilllary Clinton’s San Diego speech to examine Trump’s foreign policy ideas. As Tom concluded:
So he will double down. And as he does, he will reinforce every word of Clinton’s San Diego speech and further alienate those voters who may be skeptical of an activist foreign policy but do not want to run the experiment of deliberately burning the international order to the ground.
My colleagues John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have returned to offer a new and improved version of US foreign policy. In their recent piece “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior US Grand Strategy” they offer both a critique of current foreign policy, which they see as some variant of liberal hegemony and provide, according them a clear and superior alternative – ‘offshore balancing’:
There is a better way. By pursuing a strategy of “offshore balancing,” Washington would forgo ambitious efforts to remake other societies and concentrate on what really matters: preserving U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere and countering potential hegemons in Europe, Northeast Asia, and the Persian Gulf. Instead of policing the world, the United States would encourage other countries to take the lead in checking rising powers, intervening itself only when necessary.
It has been a long hiatus. Truth be told, I was planning to remain silent for an entire year. But I couldn’t resist coming back before then. As it turns out – just on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend for my American colleagues – and in the face of the announcement that Donald Trump had enough delegates to be nominated in Cleveland at the Republican Convention in July, I am back. The fact is too much is happening both in the world of global governance and also in the examination of global order ideas. So it’s time to end my silence.
So it would appear that the Obama Administration has crossed the finish line on the US-Iran nuclear deal or as it called, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The period of Congressional approval/disapproval – the 60-day period of congressional review – ends today. With the vote of disapproval eliminated, the US-Iran deal is secured. Of course ‘US approval’ says nothing about implementation, verification and surveillance. That will come next.