International Security in the 21st Century

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

On November 21, 2016, AGI co-hosted the Bonn Security Forum together with the Center for International Security and Governance (CISG) at the Universität Bonn.  The following report is a result of that conference.

Executive Summary

The Bonn Security Forum revolved around a series of fundamental transformations of the American and international political landscape. Debates at the event suggest that avenues for multilateral cooperation in particular will be limited by resurgent isolationism in the U.S. under President Trump, which may bring grave consequences for international security and the liberal world order. Under these conditions, engagement in the safeguarding of stability and peace across the globe becomes a more pressing task than ever.

Although it is too early for experts to fully assess the repercussions of the Trump presidency, campaign promises indicate that U.S. participation in multilateral endeavors in the domain of security and beyond will become a matter of complex and at times arduous negotiation. European leaders may have to face the challenge of leading cooperative efforts in spite of the internal social and political divides emerging all over the continent.

Violent conflict in the Middle East and Eastern Europe starkly demonstrates the absolute necessity of finding coordinated solutions to crises of global dimension. Forum panelists and debaters deemed this all the more important in light of the political and security challenges posed by a resurgent Russia breaking international norms and disrupting international order.

Considering these developments, the reorientation of German foreign and defense policy towards greater global engagement, expressed most prominently in the 2016 White Paper on German Security, could not be more timely. A successful shift in national strategy, however, will depend on the persistence and effectivity of the various multilateral structures within which Germany operates today. Experts argued that German leaders are thus facing the twofold task of adjusting to increased responsibility in international affairs and upholding the cooperative principles of a liberal, multilateral order.

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