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About the Event

On March 25, Ambassador Nicholas Burns authored an essay in Foreign Affairs titled, “How to Lead in a Time of Pandemic,” which sharply criticizes the global diplomatic efforts of the Trump administration in the face of COVID-19.

Some are strenuously arguing that the pandemic shows the vulnerability of the United States in the globalized world—fast and furious movements of people, goods, and capital across all national borders. This viewpoint asserts that the wisdom of the “America First“ anti-globalist perspective of President Trump and his supporters, with its pre-pandemic calls for border security and a far greater degree of economic self-reliance, will protect the US and its citizens from future scenarios like this one. However, Ambassador Burns argues that the pandemic illustrates the truly transnational nature of the greatest threats to the United States, and therefore the need for American leadership, especially through the art of diplomacy, is more important than ever to maximize the well-being both of the American people and of all humanity around the world.

Ambassador Burns, currently a professor at Harvard, has had a distinguished career at the most senior levels of American foreign policy-making, serving as principal State Department spokesperson under President Clinton and as both US ambassador to the United Nations and then Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (the third-ranking position in the state department) under President George W. Bush.

Ambassador Burns will join Council President Craig Snyder for a deep dive discussion about what the pandemic means for the relationship among the nations of the world and in particular what it means for the role of the United States in the world.