The Opinions Forum
On Wednesday, March 20, The Washington Post Live and The Opinions Essay -- The Washington Post’s new long-form storytelling initiative -- brought together Gen. John R. Allen (ret.), Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Former U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer Malcolm Nance and Author Robert Kagan to address the breakdown of global alliances, the rise of nationalism, and the ever-growing threat to democracy in conversations led by Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt and Columnist David Ignatius.
The Rise of Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism has reemerged as a grave threat to freedom all over the world. How serious a danger is this, and what are the causes? A seasoned military veteran, who has been in hot spots all over the globe, gives us a threat assessment, as well as a path forward for democracies to counter this growing geopolitical force.
  • Mar 20
Highlights
Gen. John R. Allen (Ret.) said disenfranchisement has given rise to authoritarianism, which is a threat to the U.S. and broader democratic order.
  • Mar 20
Gen. John Allen said to understand what caused the rise of nationalist populism in the United States, those who hope to lead the country must figure out what conditions in this country created an environment where this kind of government could emerge. "This president is a symptom. He had harvested the outcome of something that is symptomatic of something that is deeper in our society," he said.
  • Mar 20
Gen. John Allen applauds President Trump for speaking to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, but says his rhetoric has not been helpful. “The rhetoric for the Hanoi summit…inflated expectations for an outcome, which was quite disappointing.”
  • Mar 20
General John Allen (Ret.)
President, Brookings Institution
John R. Allen currently serves as the 8th president of the Brookings Institution. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Prior to his role at Brookings, Allen served as senior advisor to the secretary of defense on Middle East Security and as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Allen is the first Marine to command a theater of war, as well as the first Marine to be named commandant of midshipmen for the U.S. Naval Academy.
Interviewed by David Ignatius
The Washington Post
Davis Ignatius is a foreign affairs columnist at The Washington Post.
America's Response to the Strongmen
Dictators and despots are nothing new in world history, but what options does America have in the 21st century to combat these tyrants? A mix of foreign policy experts assess the military, diplomatic and cultural weapons at the hands of the United States, and how the West may best deploy these tools in this struggle. When, how, and in what ways should America flex its muscle to respond to authoritarian regimes?
  • Mar 20
Highlights
Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman says liberal democracy’s clash with authoritarianism is happening all over the world, and one of the great challenges we all have is wrapping our arms around technology to ensure it is used as a ‘democratic tool and not a totalitarian tool.’
  • Mar 20
Former U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer Malcolm Nance says our democracy is under attack by our own institutions. “I’m afraid to say democracy must be defended...our own White House is now attacking the 243 year tradition that has maintained the balance, is attacking everything that has been built since the end of WWII.”
  • Mar 20
When asked what he thinks of the West’s response to authoritarian leaders reaching beyond their borders to cause physical harm, Former U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer Malcolm Nance said, ‘We have a president who has decided that the US needs to be part of an axis of autocracies...he has given a permission slip to every totalitarian leader in the world. ‘
  • Mar 20
Answering a reader question, author Robert Kagan shares what he believes we can do “in the lives we lead and the choices we make” to oppose the slide to authoritarianism.
  • Mar 20
Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman is a professor of the practice of public leadership and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. In addition, she is a senior fellow at the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Ambassador Sherman is senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and former U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs.
Malcolm Nance
Former U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer
Malcolm Nance was a career Arabic-speaking cryptologist, combat veteran and counterterrorism intelligence special collections professional. He is the author of seven books including two New York Times bestseller‘s, "Defeating ISIS" and "The Plot to Destroy Democracy". His book "The Plot to Hack America" was the first book about the Trump-Russia scandal, published just six weeks before the 2016 election. An MSNBC terrorism analyst, he has been on the leading edge of Russia’s attempts to damage democracy in the West.
Robert Kagan
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Columnist, The Washington Post
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is a contributing columnist at The Washington Post. His new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World (Knopf, September 2018). His previous book was the New York Times bestseller, The World America Made. He is also the author of Return of History and the End of Dreams, Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century, Of Paradise and Power, and A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990.
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.