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James M. Lindsay | Feb. 6, 2019

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The Empty Throne

America’s Abdication of Global Leadership

Photos from the event can be viewed here.

Event Summary by Hannah Rumsey

On February 6th Dr. James M. Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations spoke with Professor Tana L. Johnson about his recent book The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership. The Empty Throne, which Dr. Lindsay co-authored with Ivo Daalder, argues That the U.S. under President Trump is harming itself and others by questioning its alliances and removing itself from a position of leadership in the world. Throughout his conversation with Dr. Johnson,  Dr. Lindsay elaborated on how President Trump has changed American foreign policy over the course of his tenure.

Doctor Lindsay’s talk deconstructed President Trump’s view and execution of foreign policy, as well as the effects of these decisions on the US’s role in the world in the long term.  Dr. Lindsay spoke about Trump’s fundamental foreign policy worldview by saying that at the core of Trump’s policy lies the belief that Americans were wronged by the world order that we created in the post-world War II era. Beyond his campaign’s vision, Dr. Lindsay explained that Trump sees all foreign policy through the lens of an economic balance sheet.  This argument can be used to justify why Trump is more willing to attack those with whom the U.S. competes rather than those who pose a security threat.

While much of Dr. Lindsay’s visit focused on President Trump’s actions and motivations, he also focused heavily on the effects of Trump’s actions on American standing in the global order. Due to President Trump’s belief that the current world order is the source of our problems, he has no interest in repairing damage to it. As America begins to abdicate its leadership role in the world Dr. Lindsay laid out the implications acknowledging that America does not always choose wisely but when it comes to looking for a new global leader the international community is essentially comparison shopping, and thus must ask itself who would do better.