Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

The Indispensable American Partner

Foreign policy is already emerging as a central theme of the upcoming US presidential campaign, and both sides should recognize the need for a much-needed shift in America's global role. The key to that shift will be America's ability to retain the best – and abandon the worst – of that most American of notions: exceptionalism.

MADRID – The United States is gearing up for that most intoxicating (and exhausting) of political events: an open-seat race for the presidency. With US President Barack Obama's eight years in office coming to an end, and Vice President Joe Biden unlikely to run, the race will be without an incumbent. As a result, the election could be less a referendum on the last eight years than a contest of ideas, with foreign policy emerging as a key topic.

The potential candidates have already sought to stake out their positions on key foreign-policy issues, with early Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush, for example, delivering a speech devoted entirely to the topic. As for the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's likely nomination (despite recent revelations that she used her personal email account to conduct government business) reinforces foreign policy's centrality to the election.

Recognizing this trend, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council has brought together a group of experts and practitioners to help infuse substance into the foreign-policy discussions leading up to the US election, including by preparing a public discussion paper. From my perspective as the group's only European member, the overarching message should be that the US must conceive of itself not as “the indispensable power," as it now does, but as “the indispensable partner."

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. elerian122_Peter MacdiarmidGetty Images for Somerset House_bigdatascreentechman Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House

    Adapting to a Fast-Forward World

    Mohamed A. El-Erian

    The world is going through a period of accelerating change, as four secular developments illustrate. Firms and governments must make timely adjustments, not only to their business models and operational approaches, but also to both their tactical and strategic mindsets.

  2. roubini137_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_xi putin Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    The White Swans of 2020

    Nouriel Roubini

    Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.

  3. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.