Addressing Threats to the Liberal International Order

The postwar order that America built together with our allies is under attack. The siege comes from multiple directions—from authoritarians who strangle liberty in the name of security to terrorists who radicalize across borders and nationalist leaders who fuel fear and division at home.  Powerful illiberal states are capitalizing on this moment by filling the vacuum of leadership with values that do not match our own.  They perceive the success of our system as a threat to theirs—fashioning a zero-sum world where they inject doubt and discord into democracies to pressure them into failure. In particular, under President Putin, Russia seeks to return to an era when the use of force prevails and the world is carved into spheres of influence. Meanwhile, transnational challenges like terrorism, cyber attacks, epidemics, and climate change continue to defy unilateral solutions and test the resilience of our societies.

The United States cannot win this fight alone. 

The United States cannot win this fight alone. We must lead through our unrivaled network of alliances and partnerships, and through our unparalleled influence in international institutions—institutions that must be more efficient, effective, fair, and reflective of emerging new powers and partners. We must build coalitions at every level to defend and, if necessary, enforce the norms of international behavior and responsibility. We must expose and disarm the tools demagogues and extremists use to inspire violence and stir chaos. Those who share in the benefits of common security also share in its responsibility, and our partnerships must reflect today’s threats while adequately distributing the costs.

Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
Vice President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau in Ottawa. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann