The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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stan where we have invested so heavily. You will need to earn

back their trust, again with some early wins, a lot of open and

frank discussion, and the development of a strategy and frame-

work that is comprehensible to the average citizen. It will be more

FDR in 1939, cajoling a reluctant America, than Bush in 2002,

channeling the unbounded energy of an America seized with a

global mission.

Seized or not, that global

mission remains. There is

simply no one else positioned,

resourced and able to lead

the free world. As Australian

Prime Minister John Howard

told the Canadian Parliament

in 2006, at a time when many

were tempted to seek a world without American leadership: “Be

careful in what you wish for, because a retreating America will

leave a more vulnerable world. It will leave a world more exposed

to terrorism and it will leave a more fragile and, indeed, danger-

ous world.”The American people must be convinced that a world

without America will not just be poorer and more conflicted for

others, but for them.

Toward a Post-Cold War Doctrine

One thing that would help is a strategic framework for dealing

with the world, something we have not had since the end of the

Cold War. Your last three predecessors had an aversion to post–

Cold War doctrine, fearful it would miss something in an increas-

ingly complex world, while limiting their operating space. This

aversion has probably run its course.

One such framework would divide the world into Westphalian

and post-Westphalian spheres. The Westphalian world, enshrined

in 1648 to end the horrific violence of a Europe that had com-

pletely unraveled, is one in which the state has a monopoly on

the use of force within its borders, and each state’s sovereignty is

respected by other states. This now defines most of the world, and

the global systems for trade, travel, diplomacy, conflict resolution

and deterrence are all dependent on the core ability of states to

function effectively.

With the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, U.S.

and world attention focused increasingly on the many countries

and regions that had entered a kind of post-Westphalian exis-

tence in which governance broke down, or was so weak as to be

irrelevant. Somalia collapsed into a non-state haze of anarchy in

1991. It was for a time the anomaly, but then Haiti, the Democratic

Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan, the Central

African Republic and a dozen other states joined the club to vary-

ing degrees and in differing conditions. Iraq, Libya, Yemen and

Syria are the most recent additions.

But the post-Westphalian world is more than just the collapse

or weakening of states. Adding fuel to the fire are the forces of

modern technology, globalization and religiosity. Today criminal

groups can amass capital on

par with Fortune 500 com-

panies, who themselves are

as wealthy as some nations;

insurgents and drug traffickers

can outfight their state counter-

parts; and religious fanaticism

can electronically jump borders

to inspire violence with an

image or an appeal.

Larger threats loom, too: cross-border pandemics that can kill

thousands, terrorists with advanced weaponry. Managing the

challenges within the nation-state systemwhile working to return

failed and fragile states to that system is an operating concept

around which a robust new strategy could be built.

Managing the Westphalian World

The orderly part of the world will require undistracted focus,

new resources, a shared vision and assertive U.S. leadership to

maintain course. Here are some things to consider as you look at

the globe:


remains the primary champion of international order

and the postwar liberal order, and our most stalwart ally on most

issues. But it has rising demons and fundamental challenges. The

Balkans will deserve special attention, as will the steady flow of

forced migration, which is testing European solidarity as the conti-

nent faces its worst migration crisis since the Second World War.

Europeans need to know we are in this together.

Brexit will continue to reverberate—the European Union was

the mechanism by which the continent ended its long civil war

and became a major force for good in the world. It is in our inter-

est to keep the project of European integration alive and healthy.

Fear of


continues to be a big part of Europe’s equation,

and the Atlantic Alliance has never been more important in the

post–Cold War era. Containing and reversing Russia’s expan-

sion and unhelpful meddling, while keeping the door open to

collective work with Moscow on shared interests, will be key to

regional stability. We need to constantly update and expand

NATO’s capacity, and take seriously our longstanding issue of

burden-sharing, while recognizing the burden NATOmembers

There is simply no one else

positioned, resourced and able

to lead the free world.