The Global Leadership Foundation exists to make available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders.
It does so through its network of Members - former Presidents, Prime Ministers, senior government ministers and other distinguished leaders, drawn together by a desire to give something back to the world.
Working in small teams, in their personal capacity,
Members offer private and confidential advice to
Heads of Government on any issues of concern to them.
GLF is a not-for-profit foundation, registered in Switzerland and is independent of any government or corporate interest.
In our Annual Report of 2015 we committed ourselves to the further development of our original ambitious idea for the Foundation, from the emerging reality of its first decade into an enduring force for good. That ‘good’ is the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of very many people all around the globe through our active projects. As we enter our second decade we can record a year that has not only achieved much but also, perhaps more importantly, laid the foundations for significant developments in the years ahead.
This year’s projects, once again in Africa, Asia and Latin America, underline not only the global reach of the Foundation but also the substantial range of skills and experience encompassed by the Members. For the past twelve years, our existing Members have, each year, taken time to consider with considerable care whom they should invite to add to their number, to bring particular new skills, to introduce fresh ideas and to broaden the experience base of the Foundation so that we can extend its appeal and increase the opportunities to assist those who can benefit from our help. Each of the six new Members who joined the Foundation this year brings something special and distinctive to add to the galaxy of our existing Members.
The second area that promises much for the future is the first glimmer of a solution to an issue that has perplexed us all since we began: that of making the Foundation more widely known whilst still remaining true to our pledge of confidentiality and thus being unable to describe our projects to a larger audience. What sets us apart is the discretion with which we conduct our business and we guard that reputation with care. Sometimes the host chooses to make the GLF visits public, but that is rare. At the end of the year covered by this Report, our well-established relationship of trust with the President of Mozambique resulted in an invitation from him to act as a mediator and facilitator for the widely reported peace talks held in preparation for a later ‘summit level’ dialogue between him and the leader of the opposition party. This is not only a clear vindication of our belief that discretion creates trust and trust creates opportunity, but it also gives the Foundation a public profile that we have hitherto been unable to create, yet now provides us with a platform on which we can build a broader awareness of our way of working.
The third strand of opportunity lies in the creation of the GLF Strategy and Development Committee, bringing together a number of eminent leaders from the corporate sector on 3 continents to add their very different perspectives to our Board’s deliberations about the future. GLF exists because we believe that experience is a priceless asset and it is clear to all of us that the lessons of the business sector have much to offer in helping us to thrive as a non-aligned, not-for- profit organisation.
I remain very grateful to all those who work so hard in so many ways on our behalf all over the world; we could not exist without them. The GLF is now a widely spread, impressive and effective network of distinguished people from all continents and every walk of life. All contribute in their own way to the stature, the reputation and the capabilities of the Foundation and from those three attributes flow the opportunities that enable us to make a difference.
CANBERRA – Whether or not US President-elect Donald Trump behaves better once in office than he did on the campaign trail, America’s global authority has already taken a battering, not least among its allies and partners in Asia.
Exercising soft power – leading by democratic and moral example – will not be easy for Trump, given the disdain he showed for truth, rational argument, basic human decency, and racial, religious, and gender differences, not to mention the fact that he was not actually elected by a majority of voters. And when it comes to exercising harder power – doing what it takes to counter serious challenges to peace and security – there will be little confidence in Trump’s judgment, given that almost every statement he made during his campaign was either wildly contradictory or downright alarming.
Maintaining security, stability, and prosperity in Asia requires a cooperative environment, in which countries secure their national interests through partnerships – not rivalries – and trade freely with one another. The only grounds for confidence on this front after Trump’s victory is that he may actually do none of the things he said he would, such as starting a trade war with China, walking away from alliance commitments, and supporting Japan and South Korea going nuclear.
With little or no hard knowledge of international affairs, Trump is relying on instincts that are all over the map. He combines “America first” isolationist rhetoric with muscular talk of “making America great again.” Staking out impossibly extreme positions that you can readily abandon may work in negotiating property deals; but it is not a sound basis for conducting foreign policy.
Trump’s dangerous instincts may be bridled if he is capable of assembling an experienced and sophisticated team of foreign-policy advisers. But this remains to be seen, and the US Constitution grants him extraordinary personal power as Commander-in-Chief, if he chooses to exercise it.
US leadership in Asia is a double-edged sword. Noisy assertions of continued primacy are counterproductive. China’s legitimate demand to be accepted as a joint rule-maker, not just a rule-follower, has to be recognized. But when China overreaches, as it has done with its territorial assertions in the South China Sea, there does need to be pushback. On that front, a quiet but firm US role remains necessary and welcome.
Shortly after former President Bill Clinton left office, I heard him say privately (though never publicly) that the US could choose to use its “great and unrivaled economic and military power to try to stay top dog on the global block in perpetuity.” A better choice, however, would be “to try to create a world in which we will be comfortable living, when we are no longer top dog on the global block.” That kind of language seems to be anathema for anyone holding high office in the US, at least publicly. But it is what Asia wants to hear.
For Australia and other US allies and partners in the region, this presidential election makes it clear that we can no longer – assuming we ever could – take coherent, smart American leadership for granted. We must do more for ourselves and work together more, while relying less on the US.
Trump will probably have more instinctive sympathy for Australia than he will for many other US allies. We are seen as paying our alliance dues, not least by having fought alongside the US in every one of its foreign wars – for better or worse – over the past century. And, as cohabitants in the Anglosphere, we are in Trump’s cultural comfort zone. But Australia will be anything but comfortable if the larger regional dynamics go off the rails.
We should have learned by now that the US, under administrations with far more prima facie credibility than Trump’s, is perfectly capable of making terrible mistakes, such as the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. We now have to be ready for American blunders as bad as, or worse than, in the past. We will have to make our own judgments about how to react to events, based on our own national interests.
This does not mean that Australia should walk away from its alliance with the US. But we will need to be more skeptical of American policies and actions than in recent decades. Australia should become much more self-consciously independent, and assign much higher priority to building closer trade and security ties with Japan, South Korea, India, and especially Indonesia, our huge near-neighbor.
No one should give ground if China overreaches, and Australia should, now more than ever, work closely with our Asian neighbors to ensure that it does not. But we must also recognize the legitimacy of China’s new great-power aspirations, and engage with it non-confrontationally. We will all benefit from a common regional-security framework based on mutual respect and reciprocity, not least when confronting regional threats such as North Korea’s nuclear chest-beating.
We can only hope that Trump will dispel our worst fears when he is in office. But in the meantime, Australian and other regional policymakers should adhere to a simple mantra: More self-reliance. More Asia. Less US.
WASHINGTON, DC – Angry American voters who feel slighted by the Washington establishment have had their say. A stunned world must now come to terms with what the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States means for global stability in the years ahead.
The world has some time to consider the full implications of Trump’s victory, because he will not take office until January 20, 2017, and he will then spend several months staffing his administration with the men and women who will actually formulate and implement its policies.
One thing we already know is that authoritarian rulers around the world can rest easier. They will not hear any more harsh words from the US about their regimes’ contempt for democracy, freedom, or human rights. The American goal of making the world safe for democracy will now be replaced by a policy of “America first,” a sea-change in US foreign policy that is already likely arousing jubilation in Russian and Chinese halls of power.
We also know that Trump’s victory jeopardizes world trade. Trump has promised to ditch the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, and unilaterally renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. This is the last thing the world needs right now, given that trade – and the global economy itself – is already struggling.
Trump has promised to strengthen the US military and national-security regime, and to aggressively pursue the Islamic State and jihadist threats around the world. But eliminating the Islamic State and bringing genuine stability to the Levant will require far more than what he has proposed so far. And while he will probably revise his overly casual comments about nuclear weapons, we cannot ignore the possibility that the world will enter a new period of arms proliferation and instability.
Trump has said that he will renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, and he has vowed to renege on the US’s carbon-reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. These are two of the international community’s only significant diplomatic achievements in recent years. The consequences of a US retreat from them are anyone’s guess. In any case, global stability will certainly suffer.
Trump’s foreign-policy strategy is based on remaining unpredictable. But while some caginess in international relations has frequently been part of US policy (just ask Henry Kissinger), predictability is at the core of America’s system of alliances, relationships, and friendships, which it has cultivated over many decades. Damaging America’s standing as a good-faith actor on the world stage would set the scene for widespread instability.
When Trump takes office, he will have to move quickly to reassure America’s friends and allies around the world. Otherwise, they could seek alternative relationships with the US’s adversaries or other unsavory players.
The European Union will play a central role in the drama ahead, because it has long been America’s primary partner on global issues, and vice versa. Trump, however, has praised the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and his only European friends so far are figures such as UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who led the UK’s Brexit campaign and even stumped for Trump in the US. Whether he intends to or not, Trump will give populists and nationalists such as Farage a boost in the coming months and years.
Trump may find out too late that a fractured Europe is a less stable Europe, and that there are US adversaries poised to exploit the opportunity of European disunity. Russia, for its part, is explicitly trying to undermine the EU, and to change the rules of the game in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin may now view Trump as a new partner in his revisionist project; but he could very well overplay his hand, too.
The world will have to give Trump time to pivot from his anger-driven campaign to responsible governance, which is the only way that the US can maintain its global influence. He will have to make his choices for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Adviser early, and the world will scrutinize his appointees carefully.
Trump may turn out to make good choices. But, given the tenor of his campaign, confidence in the US on the part of its foreign partners is at low ebb. With Trump’s victory, the world has decisively entered a period of increasing unpredictability and instability. Global challenges are multiplying, and the international order as it has existed since the end of World War II is under grave threat. Even under the best of circumstances, Trump’s election has undoubtedly reinforced these disturbing trends.
GLF’s involvement in Mozambique, where it has been engaged since 2013, has recently gained impetus with the start of peace talks between representatives of the government and the main opposition party, under the auspices of a Joint Commission, in order to prepare for summit level discussions between the President and the head of RENAMO. Having led GLF team visits to the country six times in the last three years, GLF Member Sir Ketumile Masire was elected, with the EU representative, to be Co-Chair of the panel of international mediators. It is expected that a GLF team will take part in the discussions on security and governance issues once a month for the next year.
GLF’s role in the peace talks is in the public domain and has been reported in the local and international media.