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Global Perspectives: Rapid Reactions to U.S. Election Results

Authors: GIFGRF, IAI, FGV, CIGI, SIIS, Genron, CARI, Lowy, CEPS, IFRI, SWP, ORF, INSS, INSOR, SAIIA, EAI, Chatham
Nov 16, 2016

African Union Expert Brief Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally in Prescott Valley, Arizona, U.S., October 4, 2016 (Mike Sega/Reuters).

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Editors note: This global perspectives roundup is a new feature of the Council of Councils initiative, gathering opinions from global experts on major international developments. In this edition, Council of Councils members offer their perspectives on the impact of President-Elect Trump on global cooperation and offer some advice for the incoming administration. 

Memduh Karakullukçu, Global Relations Forum (Turkey)

The world is accustomed to newly elected U.S. presidents making statements in support of the liberal international order, established U.S. alliances, and increased global cooperation. This time, however, is different. President-Elect Trump has made unorthodox proclamations, allowing the United States’ axiomatic commitment to a liberal international order suddenly appear tenuous. This uncertainty does not bode well for global cooperation, which, in its current form, relies critically on U.S. leadership.

Could this unusual beginning to a U.S. presidency pave the way for a new paradigm of global cooperation that relies less on U.S. leadership and more on ownership by other countries? This would be an order in which aspiring global powers assume more responsibility in tackling global governance challenges and regional powers become more constructive players in dealing with regional crises. It would also be one in which liberal democracies contribute more to their alliances.

"For the first time in recent history, the U.S. electorate has signaled to the rest of the world that, in its judgement, the costs of U.S. global engagements exceed their benefits."

Past U.S. administrations have pushed for versions of this burden-sharing modality for some time, but to little effect. The United States is perceived to rely on existing international economic and security arrangements to sustain the privileges of global leadership. Despite congressional rumblings at times, the suggestion that the United States could withdraw from or fundamentally compromise key global structures had never been credible. The United States’ widely presumed dependence on and commitment to maintaining these structures weakens others’ incentives to assume the responsibilities and costs associated with global challenges.

For the first time in recent history,  the U.S. electorate has signaled to the rest of the world that, in its judgement, the costs of U.S. global engagements exceed their benefits. The role of  U.S. leadership in preserving this order cannot be taken for granted anymore. The baseline for negotiating burden-sharing and ownership of addressing global challenges across the world has fundamentally shifted.

If Trump leverages this unexpected mandate to engage in the purposeful refashioning and rebalancing of burdens in international cooperation, the world may shift to a progressive, albeit bumpy, trajectory toward broad-based ownership of global governance challenges.  

If, on the other hand, Trump insists on using the confrontational, corrosive rhetoric of his campaign on the global stage, he could trigger the breakdown of global institutions and practices that others have painstakingly built over decades.  

The self-styled transactional president-elect should use his mandate as the opportune opening bid for renegotiating with allies and rivals. To have any chance of preserving and advancing global cooperation, the rest of the world should be willing to recalibrate the entrenched and outdated parameters for global governance of the past seventy years. This would indeed be a positive, if low probability, scenario for reconciling progress in global cooperation with the recent demands of the U.S. electorate.

Riccardo Alcaro, Institute of International Affairs (Italy)

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president is historic. Trump has defied both conventional and polling wisdom and won the presidency by breaking arguably every unwritten law dictating how to run a presidential campaign. In his populist furor against the establishment, he has challenged the validity of a largely bipartisan consensus that has informed U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s. Whereas U.S. presidents since World War II have emphasized U.S. global engagement, Trump has resurrected “America First,” a principle that was once the north star of isolationists.

"Without a strong U.S. commitment, Europeans will find it excruciatingly hard to sustain rules-based regimes and the cooperative management of global challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to free trade and climate change."

The effects of Trump’s victory will perhaps be greatest in Europe. First, Trump holds that the United States has no real interest in the endurance of the liberal international order, of which the transatlantic relationship has been the pillar for seventy years. Without a strong U.S. commitment, Europeans will find it excruciatingly hard to sustain rules-based regimes and the cooperative management of global challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to free trade and climate change. Second, Trump is skeptical of alliances and partnerships. He seems to consider NATO an outdated institution that costs the United States much more than it gives in return. Even if the possibility of the United States exiting NATO is remote, Trump is unlikely to invest much energy in the organization’s renewal. His reluctance to do so would be directly related to the third point: NATO complicates the United States’ relationship with Russia. It is difficult to predict what form a U.S.-Russian deal under Trump may take, yet one could imagine Russia cooperating with the United States against Islamist terrorism in exchange for the United States disengaging from the former Soviet space, starting with Ukraine.

In an ideal world, a U.S. disengagement from Europe under Trump could spur EU countries to cooperate more on foreign and defense policies. Unfortunately, such a scenario is unlikely. Trump’s victory, following the UK’s vote for Brexit, has further legitimized an anti-establishment, antiglobalization, and anti-immigration discourse whose European proponents are found in political groups deeply opposed to EU integration. Trump’s victory will likely reinforce these groups; even if it’s an indirect effect, it could also be his most lasting one in Europe.

Carlos Ivan Simonsen Leal, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil)

The next U.S. president should attend to three critical challenges if the United States is to exercise effective leadership in its support of global stability and prosperity.

First, President-Elect Donald Trump should keep close watch over the U.S. government’s deficit. Crippling debt potentially undercuts future U.S. defense commitments and the White House’s ability to provide much-needed global public goods. The American capacity to underwrite global security—by such authorities as keeping sea lanes open and preventing regional powers from embarking on hegemonic adventures—lies at the heart of global prosperity. U.S. fiscal rectitude therefore matters well beyond the domestic realm and should dictate the United States’ attitude toward the international economy. A scenario in which U.S. inflation rises and interest rates increase, which would give other countries incentives to devalue their own currencies, should be avoided.

"Trump should act on his promise to engage in negotiations and agreements with major powers. In a multipolar world, in which no single country can be the sole provider of global security and financial assistance, it is essential to encourage constant consultation among the major powers."

Second, Trump should act on his promise to engage in negotiations and agreements with major powers. In a multipolar world, in which no single country can be the sole provider of global security and financial assistance, it is essential to encourage constant consultation among the major powers. It is therefore crucial for the channels of communication among Washington, Moscow, and Beijing to be open and operational at all times. Regional conflicts should be managed through effective cooperation among the three.

Third, Trump should continue to act on nuclear nonproliferation. The United States has made significant progress in the halting of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, although the future of that may be uncertain since Trump has signaled that the deal needs to be improved. Trump could boost global security by dealing with the North Korean nuclear program directly. The endeavor may require an awkward mix of pressure and positive incentives. Given the increasing importance of Asia in the area of security, focusing on this issue early on may generate positive impact for all.

Rohinton Medhora, Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada)

Global cooperation is languishing. Whether it be the inability to resolve sovereign debt crises or manage the complexity of the internet, time and again international regimes have been missing in action.

The ideals that led to the creation of the economic and monetary agreements at Bretton Woods in 1944 and the UN security arrangements in San Francisco a year later have served the world well. But they were never perfect, and a new generation of challenges has arisen.

While skepticism about current arrangements is in order, a wholesale rejection serves no one’s interest—including the United States. Building on his stated goals of reviving U.S. growth and modernizing its infrastructure, President-Elect Trump should look for a “Nixon to China” moment or three.

Canada has played an outsized role establishing and refining current global arrangements, including the Group of Twenty (G20). Born amid turmoil, the G20 must balance the twin imperatives of being both representative of the global community and efficient in making and implementing decisions.

To be sure, the G20 is self-appointed, and lacks such obvious entrants as Egypt and Nigeria. Nevertheless, there is no other steward of globalization. Within the G20, how the United States and China comport themselves will ripple to the rest of the group and beyond. Tentative but promising precedents have been set with the accords on commercial cyber espionage in 2015 and the Paris agreement on climate change, which was ratified this year. These should serve as models for the long and varied list of global issues that require President-Elect Trump’s attention. 

"Building on his stated goals of reviving U.S. growth and modernizing its infrastructure, President-Elect Trump should look for a “Nixon to China” moment or three."

Foremost on his agenda might be reviving global trade, which hasn’t just slowed down but is contracting in volume and value. Megaregional trade agreements have had their day and, as Canada’s government has suggested, the North American Free Trade Agreement can be revisited. Clear and supportive statements from international institutions and national governments about the importance of resuscitating multilateral free trade backed up by concrete action to either revive a World Trade Organization round or, better yet, move forward on one or two sectoral agreements (e.g., on environmental goods or clean-technology transfer), would go beyond symbolism and revive an engine for future sustainable growth.

Closer to home, a continental energy strategy that includes harmonized regulations and price regimes; pipelines that transport oil safely, cheaply, and with social license; and a clean-energy innovation fund would serve North America while also setting an example for their wider application.

Bringing purpose and direction to the G20, reviving trade, making North America a leader in the joint stewardship of the economy and environment: none of these three items are low-hanging fruit for a U.S. president anymore, but movement on them will go far in making a multipolar world more prosperous and safe.

Wu Chunsi, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China)

To the surprise of many, Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. Since Trump has explicitly expressed his antipathy toward free trade and the United States’ global responsibilities, it is widely believed that the United States will be less interested in global affairs and adopt some kind of neo-isolationist position under a Trump administration. The United States, however, is a global power with interests that span the world, so a U.S. retreat from global affairs might be unrealistic. Here are three suggestions on international cooperation for the new U.S. president.

First, relationships between the global economy and domestic economies need to be revisited. It is understandable for a U.S. president to prioritize economic development at home, but the belief that domestic economic development and international economic cooperation are diametrically opposed is wrong. Since the 1980s, China and the United States have built a mutually beneficial economic relationship. Though their means of cooperation have changed over time, they have never abandoned the tendency to cooperate. China hopes that Trump will work to better understand the components of U.S.-China economic ties and develop a balanced economic policy that considers both U.S. domestic growth and further international economic cooperation.

"China hopes that the next U.S. president will continue to support and invest in furthering international cooperation."

Second, the United States is expected to take its responsibility in global affairs seriously. Over the past eight years, the world has made great efforts to address issues such as climate change. A sudden change of U.S. policy will disappoint many people, including U.S. citizens. However, comments Trump made on climate change during the campaign, which include labeling it as not “one of our big problems,” make many people worry that his administration will repeat what President George W. Bush did to the Kyoto protocol.

Third, the United States should continue to combat transnational problems. Despite being insulated by two vast oceans and bordering two friendly countries, the United States is not immune from cross-border challenges such as terrorist threats, weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and drug trafficking. It is in the United States’ own interest to join international efforts to tackle these challenges.

China hopes that the next U.S. president will continue to support and invest in furthering international cooperation. Only through the joint efforts of international institutions and national governments can the world become a better place.

Yasushi Kudo, Genron NPO (Japan)

Under President-Elect Donald Trump, the United States is still expected to take the lead addressing global issues while adhering to the principles of freedom and democracy. During the presidential campaign, Trump sometimes suggested he would pursue isolationist, exclusivist, and protectionist policies. The pursuit of such policies would further destabilize the international order. The Trump administration should recognize that the United States has largely benefited from the post-war global economic system and security arrangements, of which principal author was the United States itself.

There is no doubt that U.S. leadership has been, and will continue to be, indispensable for resolving challenges facing the world. Cooperative relations between the United States and its allies are essential toward that end. The Trump administration should not harm the United States’ long-standing relations with its allies such as Japan and South Korea. It should instead strive to strengthen relations with U.S. allies and deepen its reliable partnerships to tackle global issues, centering on economic and security ones, together.

"The Trump administration should recognize that the United States has largely benefited from the post-war global economic system and security arrangements, of which principal author was the United States itself."

According to a 2015 opinion survey conducted by the Genron NPO, approximately 80 percent of Japanese people voiced their expectations that Washington will act responsibly in solving issues of a global scale. In Northeast Asia, North Korea’s nuclear program is one of the most pressing issues. The United States should cooperate with Japan and South Korea to solve the issue through dialogue, while also bringing China into this process. It should also avert the temptation to adopt protectionist policies and instead liberalize its international trade policies.

Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini, Argentine Council for International Relations (Argentina)

The next U.S. president, Donald Trump, will have many opportunities to deepen collaboration and cooperation with Latin America. Indeed, important steps toward the solution of two major regional issues have already been taken.

The recent reopening of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States is a good sign for the region; it removes an old but difficult issue in hemispheric relations. The willingness and political space was finally found to start a peace process in Colombia, the world’s oldest armed conflict. That peace process, although the referendum results would likely delay the process, will allow more mature and pragmatic dialogues among Latin American countries.

"Given that Latin American countries and the United States share a common hemisphere and have strongly complementary economies, more commercial and business ties will likely foster greater cooperation."

These should be good examples to follow when facing the most crucial issue in Latin American politics today: the situation in Venezuela. Latin American countries and the United States can play a role in bringing together the government and the opposition to find a solution to the humanitarian crisis there.

Despite his campaign rhetoric, Trump will have the resources to enhance cooperation through new or improved trade agreements. Since the start of the post–World War II era of globalization, trade has been a driving force in promoting cooperation among countries. Given that Latin American countries and the United States share a common hemisphere and have strongly complementary economies, more commercial and business ties will likely foster greater cooperation.

Finally, Trump should advance critical bilateral areas of common interest, such as on nuclear cooperation, climate change and environmental issues, human rights, drug trafficking, and the global fight against terrorism.

Michael Fullilove, Lowy Institute for International Policy (Australia)

The election of Donald Trump is a sobering moment for those concerned with the state of the global order. Many of the president-elect’s long-held views run counter to the principles that underpin the order.

First, he seems sympathetic to isolationism. Previous American presidents saw the advantages of global leadership; Trump is apparently oblivious to them.

Second, Trump appears to be allergic to alliances. He is skeptical of an alliance network that helps Washington project its influence and states that the United States is being ripped off by its allies.

"The most important things the new president could do for global cooperation, therefore, would be to affirm that he appreciates the value the United States derives from the liberal international order and promise that he will continue with a policy of global engagement."

Third, he has something of an affinity for strongmen. He and Russian President Vladimir Putin have expressed their mutual admiration. He may take a liking to Chinese President Xi Jinping, another big man who likes deference.

Finally, Trump derides free trade agreements and has weakened the domestic case for trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership may be finished.

The most important things the new president could do for global cooperation, therefore, would be to affirm that he appreciates the value the United States derives from the liberal international order and promise that he will continue with a policy of global engagement.

This is equally the case in Australia’s own region. For seven decades, the U.S. forward presence in the Asia-Pacific—U.S. servicemen and servicewomen stationed in Japan and South Korea, as well as the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet—has underpinned regional stability there.

With these formidable assets, the United States has mostly kept a lid on interstate friction and maintained an open regional order in which successive Asian countries have grown prosperous. This role is more important than ever in the context of a rising China.

Trump should signal that he will continue the United States’ leading role in Asia.

Daniel Gros and Steven Blockmans, Centre for European Policy Studies (Belgium)

Donald Trump’s victory is sending shockwaves through Europe. Under President Trump, U.S. domestic and foreign policies will likely become more volatile and less predictable. For years Trump has consistently espoused that the United States is cheated by the free riding of its so-called strategic partners. Under Trump, a U.S. retreat from the rest of the world is to be expected, and guarantees that have underpinned more than seventy years of the postwar global order are evaporating. Trump’s election will affect Europe, particularly in the fields of trade, security, and values.

On the economic side, Europe has more to lose than the United States from an attack the Trump administration will likely mount on the global trading system. Europe is more exposed to global trade than the United States, and European jobs would be threatened if the United States unilaterally imposes high tariffs and, consequently, emerging markets go into recession. Talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) may continue at the technical level, but an ambitious agreement is no longer possible. A narrow free trade agreement would, however, facilitate ratification on the European side.

Critical questions for European security include whether Trump will stand by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and whether he will strike a grand bargain with Russia over spheres of influence in Europe. Trump is expected to cut U.S. contribution to NATO from 45 percent to 37 percent and insist that Europeans raise their contributions to make up the difference. This will likely lead to increased defense spending in many European countries and bolster ambitions by some member states, led by Germany, to expand the EU’s strategic autonomy through more permanently structured defense cooperation.

"Any U.S. strategic overtures toward Russia will likely embolden Putin’s revanchism toward Russia’s “near abroad”—Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine."

Any U.S. strategic overtures toward Russia will likely embolden Putin’s revanchism toward Russia’s “near abroad”—Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Poland and the Baltic states will demand clarity from the president-elect on his allegiances. Russlandversteher, or supporters of Russia, like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, will welcome renewed U.S. engagement with Russia. This will undermine the fragile intra-EU cohesion on sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Since Trump is not expected to devote a lot of headspace to quarreling Europeans, the EU will have to do more on its own and also proactively engage with the United States whenever it needs U.S. influence to protect European interests and attain common EU-U.S. objectives.

However, populist factions across Europe will be emboldened and must now be taken seriously as potential governing parties. Given these parties’ euroskeptic tendencies, the EU will have a harder time making the advances in integration it needs to demonstrate its own importance. A catch-22 thus lies before the European Union: populist parties will not allow for its advancement, but they will seek to renationalize policies by claiming that the EU is impotent and irrelevant.

Thomas Gomart, French Institute of International Relations (France)

Europe needs better relations between Moscow and Washington. President-Elect Donald Trump spoke on the campaign trail of mending U.S. relations with Russia. “Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon,” Trump said about Russia in April. If he succeeds, it will be a positive step for at least some Europeans. Indeed, U.S.-Russia relations have become a critical matter for the European Union in recent years. But is Trump really willing and able to make a “great deal” with President Vladimir Putin? On what basis will he do so, and will he exclude Europe from these discussions?

Over the past four years, Russia has caused more trouble for the United States and the European Union than any other power. From Syria to Ukraine, Russia has restored its geopolitical influence by military means even as its geoeconomic influence has waned as a result of low oil prices and sanctions. Having a precise assessment of Russia’s strategic, political, economic, and societal trends should be a top priority for the Trump administration.

In the short term, the Obama administration should avoid any type of miscalculation with the Kremlin. This will not be an easy task given the Russian leadership’s self-confidence. Addressing the Valdai Discussion Club during a meeting last month, President Vladimir Putin criticized Westerners for their policies toward Syria and Ukraine. He also blamed them for having imposed sanctions on Russia after attacks on Ukraine. However, he declared himself ready to deal with the next U.S. president on all the most delicate issues. After the election, Putin expressed hope for restoring ties “from their state of crisis.”

"A new U.S. policy toward Russia needs to be designed quickly and alongside the EU."

The current U.S.-Russia confrontation is problematic because it is a deep-seated, systemic issue for Moscow, but more situational for the United States. Even with Trump, this basic fact of U.S.-Russian confrontation will not change quickly, and this could have deep consequences for Europe. A long-term confrontation between the United States and Russia will make both states, but especially Russia, weaker and the world more unstable. This may benefit China, but certainly not the European Union because Russia has remained Europe’s third-largest trading partner (after the United States and China), its main energy supplier (even if it’s declining), and the major military power at its border.

A new U.S. policy toward Russia needs to be designed quickly and alongside the EU. A critical question is, will the new Trump administration include Europe in its attempts to make a “great deal” with Russia? Nothing is certain at this stage. In the short term, further escalation should be avoided. Restoring high-level military channels of communication between Moscow and Washington might be possible. Ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which Trump advocated for during his campaign, sounded good in Moscow. In the next four years, the United States should try to include Russia in its new trade or governance agreements, if there are any. The debate on sanctions will be the real test for the new Trump administration, given that there are different schools of thought on this issue within the Republican party. Conflicting positions on the use of sanctions may also divide Europeans further. In any case, the EU needs Moscow and Washington to improve their relationship.

Johannes Thimm, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Germany)

The election has shown quite clearly that the half of the electorate who voted for Trump is indifferent to world public opinion, and so my hopes that President-Elect Donald Trump will heed outside advice are quite modest. At this point, giving advice to Trump on how to advance global cooperation may be a bit ambitious. A better approach could be to list some of the actions that he should avoid in order not to undermine global cooperation.

"The Trump administration should not try to make America great again by going it alone in international affairs."

The Trump administration should not:

  • contemplate the first use of nuclear weapons or encourage nuclear proliferation;
  • undermine the rules of the World Trade Organization or start a trade war with China;
  • question the U.S. commitment to the collective defense of NATO allies;
  • tear up the Paris Agreement on climate change;
  • build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico or deport all undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;
  • bring back waterboarding, kill the family members of purported terrorists, or authorize other actions that would constitute war crimes under U.S. or international law;
  • praise dictators and authoritarian rulers for being “strong leaders,” or
  • try to “make America great again” by going it alone in international affairs.


Trump has, on occasion, displayed the ability to make pragmatic decisions. In his victory speech, the president-elect changed his tone from the divisive rhetoric of the campaign to a more conciliatory and inclusive message. It would reassure many of those abroad if he likewise adjusted the way he talks about international politics.

Sunjoy Joshi, Observer Research Foundation (India)

This election shows that the most stubborn challenges facing the next U.S. president lie at home. The traction gained by outsiders, first by Hillary Clinton’s Democratic primary competitor, Bernie Sanders, and now President-Elect Donald Trump, shifts attention to economic issues such as the decline in real wages and slow growth that are going to make this administration look inward. Nevertheless,  unresolved issues that continue to fester across the globe will need to be addressed.

The most pressing of these remain Islamist terrorism and the civil wars in Iraq and Syria. The self-proclaimed Islamic State, though it is in retreat in Iraq and Syria, can operate across borders and sponsor attacks in Asia, Europe, and the United States. The United States finds itself mired in a complex three-cornered fight in Iraq and Syria—supporting moderate armed opposition groups against both the Islamic State and allied Iranian, Syrian, and Russian forces in areas—and it is often difficult to discern the shifting agendas of warring factions.

The United States has no choice but to ensure that the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq and Syria, its supporters and funding sources decimated, and its ideology delegitimized in the minds of its adherents.

"Any weakening of U.S. resolve could force smaller East Asian states to seek accommodations with China, while openly aggressive behavior from the United States could potentially escalate tensions between the main powers in the region."

If the United States is to remain one of the world’s pillars of stability, it will need to convince various constituencies at home and across the world that it is neither in retreat nor harboring hopes of becoming a quasi-hegemon whose engagement is limited. It will need to recommit to being a key player in global security, upholding the sanctity of global trading regimes, and committing managing common spaces, such as the environment, seas, outer space, and the cyberspace.

In the Indo-Pacific region, China’s aggressiveness will require deft handling. Any weakening of U.S. resolve could force smaller East Asian states to seek accommodations with China, while openly aggressive behavior from the United States could potentially escalate tensions between the main powers in the region. The new president will also need to deal with longer-term challenges presented by China’s rise. 

The good news is that the Indian-American partnership in the Asia-Pacific is growing stronger and enjoys political support in both countries. It will be important for Trump to recommit to this strengthening partnership immediately so as not to lose ground.

Added to these is the medley of regional problems posed by an irrational, nuclear-armed Pakistan, the looming North Korean nuclear threat, elusive peace in Afghanistan, and the perennial Palestine-Israeli dispute—the new president is assured of more than a plateful of challenges.

Amos Yadlin, Institute for National Security Studies (Israel)

The Trump administration will present a great deal of uncertainty due to the president-elect’s unorthodox style and rhetoric, and because we do not yet know who he plans to nominate for cabinet positions. However, the early days of the Trump presidency also present the Israeli government a valuable opportunity to restore its understanding with the U.S. government and deepen the special relationship between the two countries. Three potential arenas for improved U.S.-Israeli cooperation based on convergent interests are Syria, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump has the opportunity in Syria to correct the two major policy failures of the Obama administration that have allowed hundreds of thousands of Syrians to be killed by the Iran-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad and caused long-standing traditional U.S. alliances to deteriorate. With Israel’s support, the United States should take action to defend civilian populations from the Assad regime's brutality and ramp up support for moderate opposition forces. The United States would then shatter the morally unacceptable paradigm of “Assad or the Islamic State” by providing an alternative. This would end the regime's massacres; reassure U.S. allies including Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia of the United States’ conviction to support them in containing Iran; and diminish the threat of terrorism posed by the Islamic State.

Second, U.S. and Israeli efforts to cope with threats posed by Iran would be more effective if they were more closely coordinated. It is unlikely that Trump will abolish the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but it is essential to seek a common strategy to mitigate the risks of Iranian proliferation and regional subversion. One option would be to draft an agreement between the United States and Israel parallel to the JCPOA in which the United States pledges to never permit Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. Ultimately, a detailed parallel agreement would serve the interests of the United States, Israel, and the pragmatic Arab states in preventing nuclear proliferation and promoting regional stability.

"It is unlikely that Trump will abolish the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but it is essential to seek a common strategy to mitigate the risks of Iranian proliferation and regional subversion."

Third, while the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was a point of contention between the Obama and Netanyahu governments, it appears that a Trump administration will lean more in Israel's direction, as per the statement his advisors released last week. Empowered by the support of a new U.S. administration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should promote new paradigms and initiatives. Before doing so, however, Netanyahu should reach an understanding with Trump on restricting settlement growth, similar to the agreement struck between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush, to restart peace negotiations and demonstrate that Israel is not the spoiler of the peace process. As a result, the prime minister would silence critics who claim that Israel is not serious about peace and disabuse the Palestinians of the notion that they do not need to compromise on their demands.

If Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas proves a willing partner for negotiations, Israel should attempt bilateral, regional, interim, and other approaches to advance the peace process or, at the very least, improve the situation on the ground and keep the two-state solution alive. If he does not, the U.S. government should make it clear to the Palestinians stalling and derailing peace negotiations will not work in their favor.

Igor Yurgens, Institute of Contemporary Development (Russia)

From early December 2015 through election day, Russia’s political leadership has supported Donald Trump with the disclaimer, “We will work with any leader the American people elect.”

That gives Russian President Vladimir Putin an opportunity to start discussions with the new U.S. president on improved relations earlier than would have been possible with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, given the difficult history of their personal relations.

Putin, in his congratulatory cable to Trump, expressed the hope that they will “work [together] to restore Russian-American relations from their state of crisis, and also to address pressing international issues and search for effective responses to challenges concerning global security.”

"Russia hopes that a balanced approach [to U.S.-Russian relations] will prevail. Even if it is not a high priority in the divided United States, reasonable people on the Russian side will be ready to work for new détente."

The need to take some steps forward on cooperation is pressing for the Russian side. The depressing effect of economic sanctions as a result of the annexation of Crimea, difficult Syrian crisis, and the stumbling blocks of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation all present more potential problems for Russia than the United States. But their negative effects for the American people and the world at large cannot be underestimated.

The list of important issues that could be resolved by mutual concept is impressive. It includes cooperation in the Arctic, space exploration, climate change, food security, and conflicts in the Middle East. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but its potential contributions to solving these global problems is not negligible.

The Trump administration will likely include both hawks and doves who are outspoken on Russia-related issues. Russia hopes that a balanced approach will prevail. Even if it is not a high priority in the divided United States, reasonable people on the Russian side will be ready to work for new détente.

Sook Jong Lee, East Asia Institute (South Korea)

Countries in the Asia-Pacific are anxious to see how the Trump administration will form its policy toward the region. During his campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump did not support conventional commitments to the security of the United States’ Asian allies. His isolationist policies, if made into reality, will greatly affect a region where the U.S-led hub-and-spoke alliance system has maintained stability and peace for decades. Of particular concern is the possibility that right-wing voices in Japan and South Korea, which have called for nuclear armament or more self-reliant defenses, will be amplified if faith in U.S defense commitments begins to waver. A rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or free trade renegotiations with South Korea would also bode ill for the region’s already troubled economic growth. A rollback of the Obama administration’s strategy of rebalancing to Asia would leave a vacuum China is likely to fill. Most Asian countries do not want to lose the region’s most effective balancer against an assertive China.

"The isolationist sentiment and sharp social rifts revealed by the presidential campaign have left many in the world doubting whether the United States has the domestic support it needs to maintain a leading role in global affairs."

The nuclear threat posed by North Korea will require immediate policy responses from the Trump administration. Two decades of failed denuclearization efforts have led to new proposals, such as a military strike or, on the other extreme, unconditional negotiations that would aim to freeze nuclear and missile tests in order to open the path to peace treaty talks. It is uncertain which Trump will pursue. A rekindling of diplomatic efforts is highly preferable to a dramatic military solution, but the worst scenario would be one in which Trump neglects to act. If the United States sits idly by, there will be no time left to reverse North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. Trump must focus on innovative policies to push North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to see that nuclear weapons possession undermines his survival rather than guarantees it. This path will only be possible if the Trump administration consults with and takes joint action with South Korea.

The Trump administration needs to reaffirm the role played by the United States in global governance. The isolationist sentiment and sharp social rifts revealed by the presidential campaign have left many in the world doubting whether the United States has the domestic support it needs to maintain a leading role in global affairs, but there remains hope that the new administration proves these doubts to be ill-founded.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, South African Institute of International Affairs (South Africa)

Given that the next U.S. president has repeatedly rejected multilateralism, the next four years will not be easy ones for global cooperation. However, the United States will continue to play its catalytic role in world affairs. The United States’ power and influence come not only from its military strength but even more so from soft power built on its alliances and global partnerships. Whether a Trump administration will rise to the challenge is a question the rest of the world awaits with trepidation.

The United States can still play a crucial role in advancing global cooperation in three major areas.

A few days ago the Paris climate change agreement entered into force, in no small measure because of the efforts of U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year. Trump, however, has said he is not a big believer in man-made climate change. A Trump administration should not renege on the commitment the United States made because climate change is real and to counter it requires the United States—one of the world’s biggest emitters—to be part of the fight.

"A Trump administration should not renege on the commitment the United States made because climate change is real and to counter it requires the United States—one of the world’s biggest emitters—to be part of the fight."

Trade dominated much of the campaign rhetoric. Trump forcefully opposed trade agreements that, he said, cost the United States jobs, although the United States has supported an open international trading system since the end of World War II. This system is now at stake. Trade has brought tremendous benefits to many in both the developed and developing world. The United States’ recently renewed Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which created preferential trade access for sub-Saharan Africa, has been a boon to many African economies. After its expiration in 2025 it is supposed to be replaced by bilateral trade agreements. Negotiations would probably need to start toward the end of Trump’s term. It would be a shame if this effort was not moved forward, especially as one of the United States’ greatest fears, violent extremism, is bred in societies in which hope has been lost and resentment grows. Agreements that promote economic endeavours, helping to build productive societies, are the only long-term remedy to this scourge.

Building a fairer international tax system that helps countries strengthen their own domestic revenue bases so that they rely less on external assistance is also in the United States’ interest. The United States has been blocking public disclosure in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Group of Twenty’s base erosion and profit shifting process on country-by-country reporting, which significantly deviates from the original intentions of such reporting. The United States should back public disclosure in the interest of protecting the rights not only of Americans, but also those in the developing world who are the most affected by tax evasion.

Xenia Wickett, Chatham House (United Kingdom)

Donald Trump’s success in the U.S. presidential election is reverberating in capitals around the world. Even though officials in Berlin, London, and Paris, among others, knew that a Trump administration was a possibility and, in many cases, have contemplated its implications for weeks, the reality has nonetheless come as a shock.

The greatest challenge for the world’s foreign and cabinet offices now is to bring to their citizens some certainty regarding the intentions of a president-elect who has promoted unpredictability in foreign policy and made frequently contradictory campaign promises.

The most important step that Trump can take in the coming weeks and months will be to bring clarity to his foreign policy platform, offer details on his plans for its implementation, and announce his cabinet nominees.

"This election has raised significant questions about the appeal of the Western ideal and Western democracy; if a Trump presidency is what that looks like, many are suggesting they don’t want it."

Trump must reassure allies that the United States will remain active and engaged in global affairs. He will need to make clear to potential adversaries that his election will not give them free rein and that long-standing agreements will be maintained. More broadly, Trump needs to make clear to the world that the United States is not going to withdraw from global governance institutions and will continue to work in partnership with others to ensure global stability and security. 

This election has raised significant questions about the appeal of the Western ideal and Western democracy; if a Trump presidency is what that looks like, many are suggesting they don’t want it. Western ideals and U.S. soft power can be an extraordinarily influential force for good in the world; Western institutions have provided a stabilizing architecture for decades. The decline of such appeal would be hugely destabilizing and a major loss for the West.

With Europe currently transfixed by internal challenges such as managing Brexit and ensuring the survival of the euro, global leadership is unlikely to be forthcoming from this region. If the United States also chooses to no longer lead, the West as we know it will swiftly become irrelevant, allowing others to fill the gap. 

Global Memos are briefs by the Council of Councils that gather opinions from global experts on major international developments.