Restoring the Role of the Nation-State in the Liberal International Order

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Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Brussels, Belgium on December 4, 2018.
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Brussels, Belgium on December 4, 2018.

Restoring the Role of the Nation-State in the Liberal International Order

On December 4, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivered remarks at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, Belgium. Secretary Pompeo underscored President Trump's mission to boldly reassert the United States' sovereignty and global leadership within the system of international institutions. 

Secretary Pompeo discussed the corrosion of liberal order which has failed the international community in many places around the world. The Secretary noted that bad actors have exploited the United States' lack of leadership for their own gain, a trend President Trump is determined to reverse. "Every nation must honestly acknowledge its responsibilities to its citizens and ask if the current international order serves the good of its people as well as it could. And if not, we must ask how we can right it," he said.

Secretary Pompeo emphasized that President Trump is returning the United States to its traditional, central leadership role in the world. "He knows that nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests. He knows, as George H.W. Bush knew, that a safer world has consistently demanded American courage on the world stage. And when we – and when we all of us ignore our responsibilities to the institutions we’ve formed, others will abuse them," the Secretary said.

Secretary Pompeo made clear that the United States is not abandoning international leadership or our friends in the international system under President Trump's leadership. Citing the historic number of countries which have gotten on board with the United States' pressure campaign against North Korea as an example, Secretary Pompeo said," No other nation in the world could have rallied dozens of nations, from every corner of the world, to impose sanctions on the regime in Pyongyang."

The Secretary underscored the important role of international bodies in facilitating cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world but added when they fail to do so they must be reformed or eliminated. This is why, he emphasized, the Trump administration is lawfully exiting or renegotiating outdated or harmful treaties, trade agreements, and other international arrangements that do not serve our sovereign interests, or the interests of our allies, he shared. The Secretary outlined a few examples, such as the United States announcing its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, absent better terms for the United States; the United States' decision to change course from the Iran deal, given Tehran’s violent and destabilizing activities, which undermined the spirit of the deal and put the safety of American people and our allies at risk; and the United States renegotiating the NAFTA, to advance the interests of the American worker.

As he concluded, the Secretary made clear that President Trump is not undermining international institutions, nor is he abandoning American leadership; rather, the United States is supporting institutions that we believe can be improved and that work in service of all of our shared interests and values.

The Secretary encouraged global leaders to continue to work together to preserve the free world so that it continues to serve the interests of the people to whom we each are accountable. "Let’s do so in a way that creates international organizations that are agile, that respect national sovereignty, that deliver on their stated missions, and that create value for the liberal order and for the world," he concluded.

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