International Order Depends on a Well-Educated American Public. So Let’s Get to Work

A few weeks ago I attended a speech by Joe Biden. It was supposed to be a foreign policy address, but his remarks quickly turned inward.

The liberal international order, he said, depends on a well-educated American public. They need to understand how global institutions like the UN and the patchwork of international laws, alliances, treaties and agreements help keep America safe, secure, and prosperous. These institutions, after all, are fundamentally American creations. They require American leadership to function properly and in ways that serve the American people and the American interest.

Without the buy-in from the American public, he said, these institutions rest on shaky grounds.

After last night’s election results, it’s clear that there has never been a more urgent time to convey the importance of the United Nations and broader international order to maintaining stability and prosperity at home and abroad. So, I am going to make it the job of UN Dispatch to explain the work of the United Nations and broader international system to demonstrate the concrete and tangible ways that a well-functioning international system serves the interest of Americans.

The international system, though imperfect, can offer the kind of global stability that leads to economic prosperity at home and abroad. Caring for the least fortunate —  refugees, people living in extreme poverty —  is good politics and keeps America safer. Fighting diseases abroad keeps Americans healthier at home. Ensuring access to basic vaccines for children and promoting the rights of girls and women provides the foundation for stronger, more stable communities in the world’s most volatile regions. That the Sustainable Development Goals are roadmap for a kind of sustainable prosperity that is enduring, robust and shared by all–including Americans. That the small amount of money the United States contributes to the United Nations is money well spent.

The global order that was built by American leadership–from the founding of the UN 70 years ago to the Paris Climate Accords last year — serves Americans and serves humanity. This needs to be broadly understood both inside the corridors of power and far outside it. The world depends on it.