Summary of Robert Kagan’s Opening Speech at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum

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Robert Kagan’s Opening Speech at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum summary

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While many people today take the US-led liberal world order for granted, historically, the post-World War II period of international cooperation is an exception, not the rule. And, if recent trends – including Donald Trump’s unapologetically nationalistic rhetoric – are any indication, a return to the “old normal” is very possible. Robert Kagan is a historian and foreign policy commentator. getAbstract recommends his opening speech at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum to those who would like to understand why the liberal world order is unique and worthy of preservation. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • What makes the liberal international order so unique in human history,
  • Why Donald Trump is not solely to blame for recent illiberal trends and
  • Why it is in the West's interests to preserve the Liberal World Order.  
 

About the Author

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an author and a Washington Post columnist.

 

Summary

The Liberal World Order that emerged following World War II is an anomaly. This post-war era’s unprecedented lack of “great power” conflict – coupled with a worldwide spread of democracy and economic prosperity – is without equal in any previous period of recorded history. Some claim the success of the liberal international order is a sign that humanity itself has evolved: that humans have no reason to pursue illogical ends and enact violence once their fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed. But these end-of-history arguments fail to acknowledge the complexity of human nature. They ignore the intrinsic human need for spirituality and a sense of belonging, that, periodically, drive people toward tribalism, nationalism and strongman leadership.

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