America as Global Leader

The Will to Lead by Anders Fogh Rasmussen details why America has an indispensable role in the global fight for freedom. Having served as Denmark’s prime minister and secretary-general of NATO he knows the importance of having a U.S. president who leads from the front and not from behind. American Thinker interviewed him about his book and the current world situation.

The book starts off with an impassioned plea to Americans that someone needs to be elected in the spirit of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. He speaks of how “President Truman showed strong leadership and effective conduct by establishing the world order that for nearly seven decades secured an unprecedented peace, development, and wealth. President Kennedy came to stand as a beacon for the free world with his energetic and eloquent communication. And President Reagan led the United States and the world to victory and freedom over Communism and oppression by his firm conviction of American exceptionalism.”

He told American Thinker how disappointed he is with “with the tendencies of isolationism or non-intervention in the United States. I oppose the idea of isolationism, which was very prominent throughout the 1930s… until Pearl Harbor. I fear that the current administration, as well as some presidential candidates, are inclined to adopt the same kind of isolationism. That’s a problem, because if you remove American leadership it will leave a vacuum that will be filled by the bad actors in the world.”

Critical of President Obama, he sees the need for a strong president who is not afraid to restore order. The downsizing in Europe, the Iraq withdrawal, and the hesitation in Syria are just a few examples cited to show President Obama’s inability to stand up to his adversaries. He concludes, “the U.S. must be everywhere to make sure they can uphold the world created after the Second World War.”

This includes President Obama’s decision to pull the troops out of Iraq in 2011. Rasmussen emphatically believes before the U.S. troop pullout “it was relatively quiet and stable. Then the U.S. left Iraq and its prime minister, Maliki, marginalized the Sunni community, which allowed for ISIS infiltration. As I said in the book, ‘Communication should not just be words, but should be backed up with decisive actions and visible leadership.’ We need to understand democracies must be defined as not just organizing elections and having majority votes, otherwise we end up with another dictator under the guise of a democracy. There must be protection of minorities, the rule of law, and human rights.”

Repeating what he said in the book, Rasmussen, feels “America went eye to eye with Syria and Obama blinked… The decisions not to strike Syria has a crucial, serious, and lasting impact on America’s credibility among both friends and foes. Words need to be followed by deeds. President Obama should have acted once the red line was crossed.”

He compares how President Obama handled his “red line,” to President Kennedy handling his. While President Obama blinked, Kennedy served notice to Russia and backed it up with action. Facing powerful rhetoric, military action, and diplomatic pressure, the Soviets backed down and withdrew their missiles from Cuba. Rasmussen sees this as a powerful example, “of matching inspiring words with convincing deeds. He demonstrated what happens when the American president acts from a position of strength, and is perceived as strong and determined in his leadership. I think the tone of his remarks was stark in setting a clear red line when he said, ‘But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.’ He showed that American global leadership made America stronger, and the world safer. This was one of the clearest commitments to global leadership I have ever seen.”

Rasmussen argues that President Obama’s strategy has emboldened Russia, making the world more dangerous and unstable. “Russia is now threatening her neighbors in Europe, primarily the Ukraine and Georgia. The political and strategic goal of Russia, part of President Putin’s ambition, is to restore Russian greatness. He feels he could get away with these attacks because America has reduced its presence and interests in Europe. President Obama has sent a very dangerous signal to the autocrats and terrorists in the world. Basically Putin exploited how people can get away with terrible acts without any consequences.”

He went on to say, “A firm and unified stance is necessary to stand up to him. I would prolong and strengthen sanctions to twelve months instead of the current six months. In Europe people are looking to the American president to set the course and then Europe will follow. Just as President Reagan did, the next U.S. president should reject the self-doubt that has infected the American approach to foreign policy. They should use Reagan’s example of having overwhelming power and the willingness to use it to deter the Soviet Union from continued expansionism, as well as the strength of the American and western societies.”

The book has a poll that states the majority of Europeans are against the use of military force to defend an ally, a direct contradiction to the very foundation of NATO. When asked about it, he commented, “I disagree that NATO is obsolete as Mr. Trump has said. On the contrary, NATO is just as important as it was during the Cold War. It is more important than ever thanks to President Putin’s aggression. People must realize the security environment and that Europe has drastically changed. We must adapt to this threat. I do agree that the Europeans should invest more in defense and our common security. All twenty-eight NATO allies pledged to invest at least 2% in defense. Today only five live up to that, but this year Europeans will invest much more than last year, and hopefully within a decade they will reach this benchmark.”

The theme of the book, The Will to Lead, has America once again becoming the world’s policeman. Rasmussen concludes that starting from WWII up until President Obama, U.S. presidents were committed to internationalism. He hopes that whoever becomes America’s next president, “they will have a bipartisan approach to foreign policy, and serve America’s self interest by leading and not retreating from world affairs.”

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.