Parting thoughts from a French diplomat as he leaves America.

Does the U.S. want to become a new “Middle Kingdom” or does it want to continue helping to shape the world?

Does the U.S. want to become a new “Middle Kingdom” or does it want to continue helping to shape the world?

François Delattre,France’s ambassador to the United Nations/ June 13, 2019 / Opinion, NYTimes

[RP: “The Middle Kingdom...was the domain of King Augustus Bonifacius. King Bonifacius was not a good ruler of the land. He was greedy, uncaring of his heirlooms, and kept a retinue of worthless knights. Eventually his misrule led to Farmer Giles' decision to establish himself as an independent lord and eventually the king of the new Little Kingdom. ...Augustus Bonifacius was unable to prevent the separation of Giles' realm from the Middle Kingdom.”

“Farmer Giles of Ham” is a short story written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1947]


We are now in a new world disorder. The three main safety mechanisms are no longer functioning: no more American power willing to be the last-resort enforcer of international order; no solid system of international governance; and, most troubling, no real concert of nations able to re-establish common ground.

In the absence of a functioning multilateral system, the world tends to devolve into spheres of influence; that leads of confrontation, as European history has shown too many times. The risk is even greater when geopolitical divides are superimposed on the technological battle between American- and Chinese-led digital worlds.

Europe faces an existential decision. Does it want to remain a full-fledged player in the world, with a vision and policy it owns? Or will it resign itself to becoming, at best, an impotent witness to the rivalry among the great global powers or, at worst, these powers’ playground?

The United States also faces a fundamental choice. Does it want to become a new “Middle Kingdom,” an insular Fortress America? Or does it want to continue speaking to the world and helping to shape it?

 A prerequisite for a stable international environment is for America to be engaged in world affairs and multilateral institutions. To combat terrorism, prevent nuclear proliferation, manage international crises and protect our children from an environmental tragedy in the making, we need America’s strong commitment, as well as new forms of multilateralism adapted to the times we live in. America can’t make it alone, and the world can’t make it without America.



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