John K. Glenn is Policy Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. He joins the USGLC after serving as Director of Foreign Policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where he led Transatlantic Trends, an annual survey of foreign policy attitudes in the United States and Europe, and oversaw GMF’s foreign policy grantmaking and programming. His background also includes academic expertise as executive director of the Council for European Studies and project manager at the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is adjunct faculty at the Elliott School for Public Affairs at George Washington University and has written numerous books, articles, and policy briefs, as well as appears in the media regularly as a commentator on international affairs. Dr. Glenn holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College.
At the recent NATO summit, much time was spent discussing whether America’s allies spend enough on defense. At a time when many of today’s global challenges do not have military solutions alone – from pandemics like Ebola to refugees driven by famines and conflicts – how does the debate shift if we consider not just military spending but spending on global development?
While the coverage of President Trump’s first speech at the United Nations General Assembly has focused on his defense of his “America First” message, stress on “sovereignty,” and threat to totally destroy North Korea, close listeners may have also heard him mention America’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, stop preventable disease like malaria, and advance the rights of women and girls around the world for the first time in office.
Against the backdrop of today’s debate about America’s role in the world, it is striking to re-read the speech by Secretary of State George C. Marshall announcing the Marshall Plan on the 70th anniversary of its delivery. The Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild the economies of Western Europe after World War II, is often seen as the model for American global leadership. Secretary Marshall makes not a selfless appeal to support a new global order, but a calculated appeal to Americans’ self-interest, accompanied by a sophisticated series of short films to explain its benefits.
This week’s confirmation hearings gave a first glimpse into the views of the new Administration’s nominees on the foreign policy challenges we face today and on strategic investments in diplomacy and development. They also showcased strong bipartisan support in Congress for the International Affairs Budget. Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) opened Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson’s hearings with the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee, saying that the International Affairs Budget at “one percent of the U.S. budget” makes the military “much less likely to be in harm’s way.”
This year’s presidential debates will be different. While national security has had its own debate in the past, “Securing America” has been announced as one of the topics in the first and widely anticipated debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and will also be part of the other debates. In the wake of domestic terror attacks and global conversation about “uncertainty and unease and strife” at the UN General Assembly, what should we expect to hear on America’s role in the world?
Last week the Pew Research Center released an update of its study, “America’s Place in the World,” and I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that an American public about to nominate Hillary Clinton on the one hand and Donald Trump on the other has conflicting ideas. The report is worth a deep read (at over 100 pages), but my take-away is that Americans continue to want our country to stay engaged in the world, that the isolationism seen a few years back is receding, but that Americans are ambivalent – which creates opportunities for campaigns on both sides of the aisle. This is especially true when it comes to the global economy and the polls shows significant differences in the Republican Party, with Trump voters more hesitant on global engagement.
As Congress prepares its blueprint for the International Affairs Budget for next year, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) released a five-year strategic plan that highlights the “single mission” that inspired its creation: reducing poverty through economic growth. The plan points a way forward for MCC amid unprecedented global crises and tremendous opportunities.
What a difference a year can make. In 2014, some wondered whether Americans were “war weary” and wanted to pull back from the world. Fast forward past Russia’s invasion of Crimea, ISIS declaring a caliphate and brutally executing Americans, and Ebola landing in Dallas, and no one is asking: should the United States be engaged and lead in the world?
The recently released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) might be an instance when the process is as important as the product. What may matter most is that the State Department and USAID have begun to institutionalize a regular strategic process of looking ahead and strengthening their capacity to deal with threats and opportunities. The report is best understood as the next step in reforms begun after 9/11 under Secretaries Powell, Rice, and Clinton, as well as initiatives like USAID Forward.
At a refugee camp in Syria, 25,000 people live in 3,600 shipping containers that have been converted into temporary homes. This week marks the start of the fifth year of conflict in Syria with more than 200,000 Syrians killed, nearly 8 million displaced inside Syria, and another 4 million, half of whom are children, having fled in neighboring countries. The United States is the single largest donor, having provided over $3 billion in assistance, but with little appetite for significant boots on the ground, American diplomacy and development will remain critical to the amelioration and resolution of the crisis.