#ChiStories Podcast: The Role of America in the Age of Trump

Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, Russia, Global Cities, and European relations.

On this week’s episode of Chicago Stories, Mayor Emanuel sat down with Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, to help make sense of the news, understand its major players, and how America’s role in all of it is changing in the age of Trump.

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Mayor Emanuel and Ambassador Daalder talk about the world. (Photo credit: Brooke Collins)

Mayor Emanuel and Ambassador Daalder wasted no time to dive into President Trump’s upcoming negotiations with North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un.

In Ambassador Daalder’s view, there are two reasons North Korea is coming to the table: military and economic pressure from the U.S., and its own nuclear weapon capabilities.

“Kim Jong Un has proved his point,” Ambassador Daalder said, “and in return he’s coming as a nuclear power who just met twice with the Chinese president who he had never met before, and now he’s going to meet with the president of the United States as an equal, he’s achieved a lot in just three months.”

The issues facing the president in negotiations are extensive, ranging from whether North Korea will allow inspectors to entry, if they’re willing to give up their missiles, willing to give up their production facilities, and much more.

But ultimately come down to one question.

“There’s only one thing you need to figure out: how serious is the guy about denuclearization,” Ambassador Daalder said. “The rest doesn’t matter, because that’s the answer you want to get.”

Mayor Emanuel and Ambassador Daalder also spoke extensively about President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and its serious ramifications with our European allies,our competitive standing against Russian and China, and our credibility as a global leader.

As it currently stands, the United States has undercut its position on all counts.

“If you are serious about denuclearization, and you are serious about diplomacy and negotiations and agreements, then it’s very important when you become a new president that you adhere to the agreements of the past,” Ambassador Daalder said. “This administration is not a very good example of that.”

President Trump’s action also comes on the heels of his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, sending what Ambassador Daalder called an “absolutely devastating” message to our European allies.

“Basically the lesson is allies don’t count in Washington, they don’t matter anymore,” Ambassador Daalder said, “and if that’s what you think when you’re in London, or in Berlin, or in Paris, you say: ‘ok, if we don’t count in Washington, why should we listen to what Washington wants.’”

Such an absence has allowed China and Russia to step in.

“Our allies are the richest, most militarily capable countries in the world, and we’ve just told the allies in the last 12 months ‘actually we don’t’ really care about you,’ so the Chinese and Russians are saying ‘we care about you, we’ll work with you,’” Ambassador Daalder said.

Mayor Emanuel and Ambassador Daalder (Photo credit Brooke Collins)

Ultimately, what’s at stake is the United States’ standing as the singular world leader its held since World War Two, and how that role is quickly changing in the age of Trump.

“This is a new order,” Ambassador Daalder told Mayor Emanuel. “Basically since FDR, the United States has said ‘we need to lead internationally, we need to be out there and help our allies, and work, and have security alliances, and open up trading routes, and open up democracy and human rights,” Ambassador Daalder said, “and we had Democrats and Republicans who disagreed about tactics, but we never disagreed about strategy and the fundamental premise.”

Despite everything that’s happened since January 2017, Ambassador he has been struck by the desire of our European allies to have America maintain his historic role.

“They want the United States to lead,” Ambassador Daalder said, “but they’re also saying ‘I’m not sure we can do business with this guy,’ and they’re going to wait him out. The question is what happens in the meantime.”

Be sure to tune in listen to the entire episode as Mayor Emanuel also talk about Syria, the role of Global Cities, being raised with a passion for foreign affairs, and much more.

Listen to the full episode as Ambassador Daalder and Mayor Emanuel discuss:

1:04—Preparing for North Korea
6:15 — Passion for Foreign Affairs and Global Cities
8:50 — Iran Deal Ramifications
14:38—America’s Global Role
23:25 — Syria

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