OBITUARY: The U.S.-Led World Order died in Afghanistan on Aug. 30, 2021, three days shy of its 76th birthday. Cause of death was internal bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.
The Order was born Sept. 2, 1945, on the USS Missouri. Early on, it protected the world from socialism and communism. Later, it defended millions of people from terrorism. Though it was maligned in recent years, the U.S.-Led World Order was a devoted champion of democracy around the globe. Its enduring legacy is the spread of unprecedented technological, medical, and economic advances worldwide.
Death was slow and painful. It began with the 2003 partisan debate about the war on terrorism and was compounded by the 2008 Great Recession. These challenges, among others, led to the election of President Barack Obama, who openly questioned whether the USLWO was a force for good. He yielded billions of dollars in sanctions relief to the Islamic Republic of Iran while minimizing the threat of Islamism and other malign ideologies.
Obama was succeeded by President Donald Trump, who cajoled "free-riding" allies to spend more on collective security, straining the U.S.-Led World Order. He reversed some of Obama's worst policies, notably on Iran, but his transactional "America First" foreign policies eroded the Order further.
Succeeding Trump was Joe Biden, who vowed to heal these wounds, but instead made them worse. Exacerbating the decline was a foreign policy establishment (née Blob) funded by clicks, big business, China, and Qatar.
The U.S.-Led World Order is survived by the Five Eyes and NATO, as well as allies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. But without a strong America, they are all justifiably worried about the rise of China, which is the most likely candidate to inherit the world order.
Futile attempts by the current administration to revive the USLWO will continue regularly at the White House briefing room. Successful resuscitation will require summoning the ghost of Ronald Reagan.
Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies