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Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex

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Former NATO Secretary General talks about 'The Will to Lead'

By Nathan Brown (MA International and Intercultural Communications '18)

DENVER—Oct. 17, 2016—The Will to Lead is more than just the title of the book written by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General NATO and former Prime Minister of Denmark—it's also a statement of admiration for the only country that, as Rasumssen said, has the power to lead the world.

Secretary General Rasmussen spoke at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies on Monday at an event sponsored by the school's Colorado European Union Center of Excellence. He speech dealt mostly with his book, The Will to Lead: America's Indispensable Role in the Global Fight for Freedom.

"I started writing this book immediately after I left my positon as secretary general of NATO because I felt a strong need to make the case that the United States needs to be the world's policeman," he said.

Despite the fact that this might not be a very popular opinion in Europe or the United States, he said he felt he needed to make the case.

"I think the only capable, reliable and desirable candidate for that post as the world's policeman is the United States," he said.

Rasmussen talked about the state of the world—wars and conflicts, terrorism, Syria and Iraq, refugees and failed states, Russia and China, and North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

"The world is on fire," he said. "I think there is a link between the U.S. reluctance to use force and demonstrate leadership and this outbreak of fire. We know from history, that when the U.S. retreats or is perceived to retreat, it will leave behind a vacuum and that vacuum will be filled by the bad guys. A U.S. withdrawal from world affairs will just lead to stronger foes, weaker friends and a more insecure world."

Further driving his point, Rasmussen quoted Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

For Rasmussen, when you consider the United States' global influence and reach, the only logical candidate to lead global affairs is the U.S. The United nations is too weak, Russia is considered too aggressive and China has no global trust as a communist country, he said.

"Only the U.S. has the diplomatic, military, economic power to get things done," he said.

Fulfilling this role, according to Rasmussen, is in the best interest of the United States for three reasons. First, if the U.S. doesn't rid the world of evil, it could strike at home. Second, prevention is cheaper and better than treatment. Lastly, the U.S. should protect the rules-based world order than it established after World War II.

"You have no choice," he said. "Superpowers don't get to retire."

Rasmussen talked about strengthening trans-Atlantic partnerships and the work he did as the Secretary General of the NATO. He also addressed some ideological differences between Europe and the United States and said that these are not insurmountable challenges, but rather questions of political leadership.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world's leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and public policy and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel. Follow the Korbel School on Facebook and Twitter.