How Not to Run the World
The most worrisome development on the global stage last week took place in Washington, D.C.
The most significant shock to the international order last week—amid the latest Brexit dustups, a North Korean missile test, protests in Hong Kong, and a hurricane in the Caribbean—might have been news of a meeting that did not happen. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, was denied a briefing on the negotiations to end the Afghan War, The Washington Post reported. After Trump publicly sidelined Bolton earlier this summer, the latest indignity was further proof that national security adviser is not the job it used to be.
Yet Bolton’s humiliation also signals something more important: The United States is no longer capable of being the global leader it once claimed to be. The national security adviser, the official charged with organizing and integrating all discussions of U.S. foreign policies, has been an essential piece of how the United States has tried to lead the world for more than 70 years, and why the world was willing to be led at all. As a result, the breakdown in the way that Washington works could prove more destabilizing than any of the crises dominating the headlines today.