Thursday, April 11, 2019

Collapse By Doug Schoen

A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership

 By Douglas E. Schoen

Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership by Doug Schoen takes stock of a volatile and threatening international environment by looking at some of the underlying causes and flashpoints - the principal one being the failure of institutions and elites to respond to their constituencies and address the problems of our age. This is a problem spanning the increased polarization that bred nationalist and populist movements, the continued failure of Western leaders to come up with effective strategies for combating authoritarian rivals like Russia and China, and the ongoing Islamist threat.

In COLLAPSE, you'll learn that:

·    We are experiencing a global crisis of democracy - not just around the world but also within the United States - due to the failure of institutions, the revolt against elites, and the breakdown of the alliance system that has underpinned world peace for eight decades. Together, these factors threaten not only public confidence, but also governmental functioning, and pose threats to the future of free societies, to the stability of the international system, and to global security. 

·    A series of issues that speak to this crisis of global democracy include the increasing momentum of authoritarian regimes around the world such as North Korea and Russia, the dissolving of government authority in Latin America (namely, Venezuela) and Africa, as well as the political and social divisions that began to explode in the United States during the Obama administration.

·    Any hopes for a more stable international climate can only come to fruition if the U.S. exercises effective, engaged, committed global leadership, or "assertive democratic idealism," by which Schoen means that the U.S. can and should look out for its own interests while continuing to serve as the world’s standard-bearer of democracy and global leader. This involves a renewed commitment to leadership from the U.S. that is informed by an idealistic, moral, yet practical outlook toward the rest of the world. 

·    A large part of the global crisis that we currently face is also rooted in foreign policy failures of the last three administrations. President Trump's "America First" nationalist and isolationist rhetoric and willingness to abandon allies is troubling, and Trump generally lacks a clear vision, concrete policy, and strategic direction for conducting foreign policy. However, there are also deeply problematic issues with the embrace of uncritical internationalism that was, in different ways, the downfall of both President George W. Bush’s and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. 

In COLLAPSE, Schoen makes clear that the indispensable ingredient for any constructive path forward is effective, engaged, and committed American leadership. This is discussed through the lens of the failed models of President Trump’s two recent predecessors, which reflected, respectively, an uncritical embrace of American power - lacking strategic insight and proportion - and an uncritical abandonment of American leadership that suggested an abject view of the U.S. moral example in the world. Instead, Schoen posits assertive democratic idealism - an embrace of U.S. moral leadership around the world but in ways that remain leavened by realism and a guiding understanding of our national interest. Whether President Trump can deliver on such a vision remains to be seen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Douglas E. Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for more than 30 years. A founding partner and principal strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland, he is widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling. His political clients include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Evan Bayh of Indiana, and internationally, he has worked for the heads of states of over 15 countries.