Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discusses importance of U.S. global leadership

April 6, 2017 by Margaux Fontaine

Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Georgetown University to speak about the need for strong American leadership in promoting freedom and maintaining peace around the world. Rasmussen, author of the recently published book, The Will to Lead: America’s Indispensable Role in the Global Fight for Freedom, served as the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 through 2009 and then as the Secretary-General of NATO from 2009 to 2014. The event was hosted by the Master of Science in Foreign Service program, the BMW Center for German and European Studies, and the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Rasmussen opened by explaining how the international community is facing tumultuous times, with challenging situations on all corners of the globe. He believes that global stability will only be attained through strong and determined American leadership.

“The world needs a policeman,” Rasmussen said. “And the only capable, reliable, and desirable candidate to exercise that duty as the world’s policeman is the United States of America.”

In fulfilling the role of global police officer, Rasmussen sees the United States as the only clear option. The United Nations, he asserted, is too large and inefficient to do the job properly, whereas other nations like China or Russia lack a high level of international trust.

“Only the United States has the diplomatic, military, and economic power to get things done,” he said.

Throughout his career, Rasmussen has worked closely with American officials on various international issues. He even has a personal connection to the United States – his son is a naturalized American citizen, and he has three American grandchildren.

Rasmussen contended that America’s strength comes in part from its identity as a melting pot, drawing in people from all over the world and creating a strong global network.

“I haven’t suggested that the United States doesn’t make mistakes,” he clarified. “But still, I think the United States is the nation in the world which enjoys the broadest support and confidence.”

While some may be skeptical towards the United States playing such an involved role, Rasmussen detailed three reasons why Americans should support this strategy. First, he stated that, without U.S. intervention, oppositional forces could go on to strike American soil. He also highlighted the importance of managing conflicts before they get out of hand.

“It is in the United States’ interest to knock down conflicts, and knock down threats, while they’re still small, instead of sitting idly by and accepting them growing to a size where they’re unmanageable,” he said.

Third, Rasumussen stressed the importance of America’s role as policeman in protecting the rules-based international order.

“Despite the hardship being the world’s policeman, America prospers when the world is at peace, and the rules are respected,” he said.

Rasmussen doesn’t believe this should be a solo effort, however – he also emphasized the importance of support from friends and allies, who would also benefit from a stronger U.S. role on the international stage.

“The U.S. withdrawing from world affairs will just result in stronger foes, weaker friends, and a more insecure world,” he said.