Why America Must Lead

February 27, 2017

The world is on fire. Syria has fallen apart. Russia has seized Ukrainian land. And China is flexing its muscles. Who can put these fires out? As Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark’s former Prime Minister and NATO’s former Secretary General explains, only the United States. Read Prime Minister Rasmussen’s book, “The Will to Lead”:

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The world is on fire. The Middle East is being torn up by war and terrorism that have forced millions of people to flee. Syria looks like the disaster of a generation. Iran seeks to dominate the region and openly declares its intention to wipe a sovereign nation off the map. While in Eastern Europe, a resurgent Russia has seized Ukrainian territory by force of arms. China is flexing its muscles against its neighbors around the South China Sea. There is only one nation in the world capable of putting out these fires.

That nation is, of course, the United States.

Many Americans will argue, understandably, that this is not fair. It may not be fair. But it is a fact.

Only America has the diplomatic reach, the financial resources, and the firepower to lead the free world against the autocrats, rogue states and terrorists that are trying to overwhelm it.

As the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009, and the secretary-general of NATO from 2009 to 2014, I know how important American leadership is. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when America tries to lead from behind instead of leading from the front.

A case in point:

Russia illegally annexed Crimea in March 2014—the first gunpoint land grab in Europe since the end of World War II.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called it an “unbelievable act of aggression.” He went on, “You just don’t, in the twenty-first century, behave in nineteenth-century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”

This might be an admirable statement of principle, but as a guide to policy, it is dangerously naive, because whether it was believable or not, it happened.

The first half of the twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history. That was before America became a global superpower. Since America’s ascendancy, the major world powers have coexisted in relative peace. Now that peace is threatened, and America must step forward again. Simply put, no one else can do it.

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