National Security

“Our World is not Zero-Sum”

October 18, 2017  • Hurst Lecture Series

Four former national security advisors, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, agree: the world order is being challenged. At a Hurst Lecture Series event in Aspen this August, these foreign-policy experts focused on external threats to America—like Russia.

“Our role is and remains indispensable,” Susan Rice, who served under Barack Obama, said of America’s global leadership. “Our world has never been zero-sum.” Rice added that relationships with allies need to be renewed, with the understanding that US leadership benefits the whole planet. Stephen Hadley, national security advisor for George W. Bush, agreed but advised an adjustment to current US strategy. “If we want others to do more,” he said, “we’ll have to give them more of a role, more of a stake.”

All agreed that President Trump should get tough on Russia and secure a stronger negotiating position. They suggested strengthening the US military in Europe, increasing the defense budget, and acknowledging Russia’s election hacking. But, as Institute Trustee Condoleezza Rice, also a national security advisor for Bush, pointed out, managing confrontation begins at home. “This isn’t ‘America first,’ a term I don’t like,” she said. “But it does start at home. It was a confident America that built the liberal order, and it has to be a confident America that sustains it.”