19 September 2014 - 21 September 2014

The global role of the United States

Chair: Professor Joseph Nye

(In partnership with the American Ditchley Foundation)

The Greentree Estate on Long Island, in the autumn sunshine, proved to be in all respects an excellent location to discuss this issue, so important for all our futures. Thanks are due to American Ditchley whose generous support made this possible. We had a varied and high-level group, albeit western-dominated, a wide-ranging and fascinating debate, and enough controversy to keep us all on our toes. But there was also a significant measure of agreement on some key points.

We were agreed that the US was not in decline in any meaningful sense, even if other powers had risen in relative terms, and the world was more multipolar/polycentric than ever. American military strength, economic dynamism, and soft power were still unrivalled. Nevertheless the perception of US decline was still out there, particularly in Asia, and was influencing the attitudes and policies of others. That needed to be addressed.

There was also room for real concern about the current inability of the US political system to produce and implement decisions, and make necessary reforms, and little optimism that this was likely to improve in the near future. How far were the governing US elite and public opinion still ready to give a lead to the world, or war-weary and unwilling to play the global policeman any more? Views were divided, but no-one expected a return to isolationism, and the weariness might be more with lack of success than with international engagement as such. The recent decision to take military action against ISIL/ISL, with apparent public support, would seem to confirm this. The next President should find a middle position between Bush and Obama.

Did the world want/need US leadership? Most round the table thought so. Whatever mistakes had been made in the past, the effects of the relative absence of US leadership in Syria, events in Ukraine and Chinese assertiveness in its neighbourhood had been enough to convince many that a world without an active US was too dangerous. No other country was capable or willing to step up in the US’s place. At the same time, a more consultative form of leadership was clearly needed, with the emphasis on working through alliances, partnerships and ad hoc coalitions. Moreover a new effort to fix the multilateral system was needed, which the US should lead. Had the US disqualified itself from leadership in terms of values and principles by its own failure to stick to them in too many cases? This was clearly a problem, and others would continue to play on the themes of lack of consistency and hypocrisy. But it was still better to have the right values and to want to promote them than to lapse into cynicism and narrow interpretations of national interest. The Americans should therefore not abandon trying to do good in the world, but also needed to approach this in a more sophisticated fashion, and to ensure greater consistency between word and deed.

Where was US leadership most in demand? We saw the transatlantic relationship as still crucial, and Ukraine and TTIP as major tests for it. Maintaining the rebalance to Asia, whatever that meant in practical terms, was also seen as vital, given the opportunities and challenges there. We did not want to see confrontation with either Russia or China, which meant developing cooperative relationships and reliable channels of communication wherever possible, despite important differences. At the same time, aggression needed to find a clear response. The Middle East could also not be ignored, even though its current problems were clearly not susceptible to outside solutions. Latin America was being relatively neglected, which was a mistake, and Africa’s opportunities and challenges also needed US engagement.

On the economic side, the US was also bound to play a leading role, given its economic power and the role of the dollar, but often seemed to be a reluctant leader. The international institutions were arguably in better shape than on the political side, but US failure to ratify IMF reform was a major problem. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were vital strategically as well as in trade and investment terms, but it was not clear that either would be agreed, and there seemed to be no Plan B.

How should the US try to lead in future? A number of broad recommendations are set out, distilled from the discussion. The main emphasis is on long-tern thinking and strategic patience, and on the careful cultivation of allies, friends and partners, rather than unilateral behaviour.

The state of the US today
We started with whether the US was really in decline, absolute or relative. We were clear that there was no question of absolute decline. It was more accurate to talk of relative decline in the sense that other major countries had recently been growing faster in economic terms. But several participants queried whether even this was really the right description of what was happening, since it implied that America was in a negative mode, whereas the reality was that America remained healthy and dynamic even while some of the rest were rising. It was also argued that it was the US which had largely created the global conditions for the economic rise of others. The country should be given credit for this.

On the substance, there was no doubt that the US remained the strongest military power in the world by some way, despite recent cuts and strong increases in Chinese and Russian defence spending; that she was also still the largest and most entrepreneurial economy, now with the added bonus of shale energy – China could no doubt overtake her in terms of overall GDP before long, but would remain way behind in GDP per capita for many years to come; that she had a positive demographic future, unlike say Russia or China; and that US soft power, in terms of cultural dynamism and attractiveness to outsiders, was also unparalleled, and likely to remain so. The US should also be seen as the only truly global power, with interests and ambitions to match. By contrast, China and Russia were, in present circumstances, essentially regional powers, which could have a lot of influence in their own region, and even seek to dominate them, but which had for the moment no capacity or will to be major forces elsewhere. The same was even truer of others such as India, Brazil or Indonesia.

It was obvious that we now lived in a more multipolar, or (as some preferred to call it) polycentric world. The US had to learn to live with this, and adapt accordingly, seeking allies and ad hoc coalitions more actively and assiduously, but in fact the world had only briefly looked at all unipolar, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Power was now diffused much more widely, and the world was correspondingly harder to run. Expectations of the role of one country, even the most powerful, should be calibrated accordingly.

It was pointed out throughout the conference that, even if the reality was one of continuing US strength, there was still a widespread perception of US decline in many parts of the world. This perception, even if false, seemed to be influencing the behaviour of others such as China. It had perhaps been reinforced by President Obama’s caution. This perception seemed to be stronger in Asia than elsewhere, and could in some ways be just as important as the reality. It therefore needed to be addressed.

One reason for doubts about the continuing strength and dynamism of the US as a country was widespread concern about its domestic political capacity to go on moving forward and taking the necessary decisions; and about the political will of its governing elite and its public to continue to play a global role, looking beyond its narrow interests.

There was a certain amount of gloom around the table on the first of these points. The current gridlock in Congress, epitomised by the inability to set and have agreed a national budget since 2008, was the result of increased polarisation of political representatives. This was in turn the result of factors such as a disastrous political financing and lobbying system (even worse since the recent Supreme Court decision), the ability of incumbents to gerrymander political boundaries, and closed primaries. There was no sense that any of these issues was likely to be tackled any time soon, and therefore little likelihood of any significant improvement. A new President might be more skilled in, and interested in, Washington politics, but that could not change the fundamentals. The US political system had always been characterised by powerful checks and balances, and foreign policy was less constrained by disagreements in Congress than domestic policy. Nevertheless the system’s inability to reform itself was worrying (and ironic, given the frequent US insistence on the need for major reform in other countries’ systems).

There was more division of view about the second issue of US will to go on trying to influence international developments and fix global problems. Few participants believed that the US was heading into isolationism. Politicians and public alike were well aware that what happened in the rest of the world impinged strongly on what happened in America for that to be a plausible route into the future. However, there was no doubt that we had been in a period of reduction or retrenchment in US willingness to use its power overseas, of a kind we had seen in the past. There was no doubt either that the long, difficult, expensive and unrewarding adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan had had a significant effect on the country’s readiness to engage again, at least militarily. There were legitimate questions about whether even the US could afford such entanglements, given debt and deficit problems. Public opinion surveys tended to suggest that a majority was fed up with playing the global policeman, for little or no reward, and would prefer a less forward American approach.

At the same time, it was suggested that American weariness was more with unsuccessful wars/adventures, than with wars/adventures as such. The relative speed with which President Obama had decided to go back to military action in Iraq, apparently with significant public support, reinforced this idea, even if boots on the ground had been ruled out for now. It had only taken a couple of beheadings of US hostages to produce this effect, which did not suggest a secular trend towards a much more domestic US focus. Moreover, it was quite possible that a new President would be less cautious than President Obama, who had arguably over-corrected for his predecessor’s enthusiasm for foreign wars. Perhaps, it was suggested, we now needed a “Goldilocks” President, after one who had been too hot, and one who had been too cool.

US Leadership
This debate led us to reflect on whether the world wanted or needed US leadership. With a large US presence around the table, and significant western participation otherwise, it was perhaps not surprising that the general answer was yes: much of the world did want, and the whole world did need, a measure of US leadership. Recent events in the Ukraine, the Middle East and Asia had strongly reinforced this feeling. A group of participants with more emerging power representation, and more Russians and Chinese, might have produced a different response.

However, this conclusion seemed to reflect more than just a built-in pro-American bias. The argument was that, for the reasons set out above, only the US had the current capacity and will to play a global role, and only the US had the capacity, belief, tradition and underlying desire to promote common goods. If the US did not step up, no other country would step up in her place, at least in present circumstances. Indeed it was worse than that: the less the US stepped up, the less other countries did so too. The reverse was also true: the more the US stepped up, the more others were also ready to get engaged. And if no country stepped up, the risk of international anarchy and a global disintegration into competing nationalisms, with no coming together to promote the common benefit, was unacceptably high. Exercising leadership might often leave the US in an uncomfortable position, and always vulnerable to the criticism of others. It was natural that she should often be a reluctant leader. The US might also legitimately complain of others free-riding on the stability she was trying to promote. But at least this meant that the US was doing the driving. Americans should be careful what they wished for.

Syria was seen by many as exemplifying the problem of the absence of US leadership. Largely because of the aftermath of the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US had not been willing to intervene, in any military sense, at least until very recently. The result had been self-evidently dire. It was of course impossible to prove the counter-factual that it would have been better if the US had intervened at an earlier stage. Indeed it was possible that the situation would have been even worse if the US had intervened earlier. But it was hard to see how.

To argue for a return to more obvious US leadership was clearly not to argue that all US interventions had been successful or that the US was always right. Allies as well as adversaries had often been critical of US decision-making, and would no doubt go on being so. This had always been a cross for the US to bear – damned if they did try something, and damned if they did not. But the conclusion in many capitals was nevertheless that the world was a more dangerous and unpredictable place without American leadership, and that there was no substitute on the horizon for it.

Part of the problem was clearly the poor state of global governance, with many international institutions, particularly on the political side, hamstrung by divisions and the need for consensus among 190+ states, and the multilateral system in a poor state. The G20 should be the answer to some of these problems but remained for the moment a very light structure better suited to managing a crisis than keeping up a flow of decisions over world problems. Strengthening old-style nationalism in many parts of the world was hardly helping. We took the view that the multilateral system urgently needed to be improved, and that the US should seek to play a leading role in fixing it, accepting that unilateralism was a blind alley.

Nevertheless we had to ask whether the US was in fact well-placed and well-qualified to lead. Many participants referred positively to its tradition of espousing and promoting important principles and values, and trying to move towards solutions to international problems based on these. However there was also widespread awareness that the American reputation as a defender of these values had been heavily tarnished in recent years, following well-known episodes such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and more latterly the Snowden revelations. It was much easier now for American rivals or adversaries, as well as friends and allies, to point to inconsistencies, hypocrisy and double standards, and undermine US pretensions and claims accordingly. Russia was playing this game quite effectively over Crimea, for example. Economically, too, the US/western model was obviously more under challenge than it had been before the 2008 financial crisis. Growing inequality, and the increasing ability of the wealthy to keep the best opportunities for themselves, hardly helped.

Views differed over how far US policy was or should be constrained by these concerns about its democratic, human rights and rule of law credibility in the eyes of others. The majority view seemed to be that this factor certainly did not help, but it should not be allowed to stand in the way of robust US policies. It was still better to hold such principles and values dear, and promote them publicly and privately, even with lapses, than not to hold them at all and to act simply on the basis of cynical national self-interest. Nevertheless it would certainly be important for the future that US words and actions were more closely aligned. ‘Two tin ears and a loud mouth’, as one US participant put it, would not be good enough.

This question was closely related to that of US exceptionalism. Was America still the exceptional country, and did it make any sense in today’s world to make that claim? Again views differed, but we recalled the fierce domestic American reaction when President Obama had appeared to resile publicly from US exceptionalism, and recognised that this US political reality could in fact be helpful in convincing US politicians and public opinion of their responsibility to play a global role and act altruistically from time to time, as well as protecting US national interests, even if this led to them being judged by higher standards than others. Still, it might be better to play the exceptionalism word down overseas, since it was likely to grate in many places, and obviously lent itself too readily to criticism pointing out the gap between theory and practice.

Against this background, where in particular should the US try to lead? For many, perhaps most of the participants (again no doubt reflecting their majority national origins), the prime requirement was to focus on the transatlantic alliance. This was where the coincidence of values was strongest, where the most reliable long-term allies were to be found, and where the US was clearly needed to set a standard and a tone, and urge others to follow. Many European countries would often be reluctant, griping followers, but even for these the Ukraine crisis had brought home the importance of US presence and leadership in Europe. At the same time there was a desperate need for the Europeans to get their own act together, for example in terms of defence spending and unity of purpose on the key issues. They were arguably the worst free-riders.

Both Europeans and Americans round the table had been encouraged by the signs of NATO reinvigoration visible at the recent summit in Wales, but it was recognised that this was only a start. Europeans and American participants also recognised the vital importance of the proposed TTIP, in strategic as well as economic terms, but both were concerned that it might not come to fruition because of individual concerns/protectionism on either side of the Atlantic. That would be a tragedy. Europeans in the room wanted President Obama to invest more heavily in TTIP, including with Congress.

The Ukraine crisis figured frequently in our discussions. US and European participants underlined the need for a robust international response to what they saw as aggressive Russian moves, to help prevent these tactics being used against other neighbours too, notably the Baltic States. This response had to be led by the US, but with strong and united European support. There were fears that some European countries were just looking for an excuse to get out from under current sanctions policies, and concerns that countries elsewhere in the world, whatever their own unease about Russian behaviour, simply found it easier to say nothing publicly.

On the other side of the argument, it was pointed out that Russia was doing no more than others did in trying to protect its own zone of influence and its citizens, and that sanctions were likely to prove ineffective, or even counterproductive, and were meanwhile undermining economic globalisation, which was certainly not in US interests. There should be less emphasis on “punishing” Russia, and more on looking for ways out of the present impasse, including by producing “doors Russia could walk through”.

Compromise and co-operation should certainly be possible. The opposite course of confrontation could surely prove disastrous for all.

We also spent a good deal of time looking at US policy in Asia and the so-called pivot, or rebalance. Had this been real, or just rhetoric? Once again, there was no unanimity. Some thought there had been a significant change to US priority to Asia from the rebalance, though not necessarily much in the way of increased military presence, and that the signal sent in the region had been vital in reassuring some and, hopefully, deterring others. Others suggested that there had been much less to it than met the eye, and that whatever steam it had had originally had now dissipated (e.g. Obama’s West Point speech had omitted it altogether, and Secretary of State Kerry’s heart was clearly elsewhere). But there could also be an important gap between reality and perception — whatever the actual substance, it had been seen in some quarters, notably in Beijing, as an exercise in US hard power, and even provocative, and produced a counter-reaction accordingly.

In any case there was no doubt that US economic and political interests in the Asia-Pacific region were huge, and that there was a demand for an increased US presence in, and strategic priority given to, the region from many Asian countries, and that some kind of rebalance was indeed vital. The long-term question was whether the US would have the will and the resources to keep up its effort, against the background of the continuing rise of China. The latter could focus on dominating its own region, without worrying too much about the rest of the world beyond its direct trade, investment and resource needs. The US would always have other fish to fry. This was what worried many of China’s neighbours and why they were so hard to satisfy and reassure.

In this context it was suggested from the Asian side that, while China and the US were unlikely to be real friends and close allies for the foreseeable future, they could nevertheless work together closely on many issues, for example North Korea and the environment, if the will was there on both sides. This was what the Chinese were proposing, and it should be taken seriously. The alternative of constant competition and potential confrontation would be bad for everyone.

We spent relatively little time on India, but recognised the future centrality of the US/India relationship and the importance of the forthcoming visit by Prime Minister Modi.

We were in no doubt that the US could not simply abandon the Middle East, however tempting that might sometimes seem, for many obvious reasons. The background of disastrous developments in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, and the threat from ISIS/ISL, had in any case thrust the region back to the forefront of international concerns. No-one had an answer to this mother of all messes. We just hoped that the Arabs would get through their ‘reformation moment’ faster than Europe had. US intervention in Iraq had not worked. Intervention-light in Libya had not worked. Abstention from intervention in Syria had not worked. The US certainly could not fix the problems from the outside but it could not ignore them either. It needed to find and work with as many allies and friends as possible, on the basis that some military action might be unavoidable but that it could not provide lasting solutions. Here if anywhere there was a need for strategic patience, and careful attention to history and to local dynamics. A sophisticated approach was needed, not a binary, black or white one. Several participants argued in this context that a successful nuclear deal with Iran could prove hugely beneficial to US policy and the region over time.

We spent relatively little time on Latin America, or on Africa, not because we thought they were unimportant, but because they were less high up the current international agenda. There was a widespread feeling that the US was neglecting its regional neighbours, including Mexico and Canada, and that it was a mistake not to focus enough on building a reliable and stable platform in the Americas for action wider afield. US economic interests in the region were huge, and instability in Central America and beyond could easily spread.

US interests were perhaps less vitally engaged in Africa than elsewhere, but she could not afford to ignore the economic opportunities of “Africa rising” (others like India and China were certainly not doing so), or the risks from the spread of jihadism into sub-Sahara Africa, notably Nigeria. There was space for US leadership if she chose to exercise it.

America’s global economic role
While much of our discussion was around broad geopolitical strategy and current political crises, there was also a lot of talk about the economic and financial context. Since the US was still the biggest global economy, with deep reserves of dynamism and innovation, and the dollar was still the global reserve currency, America clearly still had to play a leading role, if not the leading role, in international efforts to promote growth and financial stability. It was less clear that she was always willing to be the leader the system needed. She had not led the way out of the 2008 financial crisis as might have been expected, though her role had of course been very important; and institutions like the Federal Reserve tended to be relatively closed to international thinking (and even to other parts of the US Administration). While central bankers around the world knew each other well and communicated accordingly, there was often relatively little attention paid in the US to the effects of their policies on others (the “our dollar, your problem” syndrome). Congress also tended to underestimate the international consequences for the US of having the dollar as the reserve currency — they wanted the benefits but not the downsides.

The paradox of US-Chinese mutual economic dependence was noted by many, with a lack of clarity as to who obtained most potential leverage from this (neither side gained as much as often claimed, seemed to be the answer of most participants). The importance of the trade deals under negotiation across the Atlantic and Pacific was underlined, but there was a lot of concern about the declining role of the WTO and the absence of a Plan B if the TPP and TTIP did not in the end come off.

We heard that the international economic institutions were a good deal less moribund than their political equivalents, particularly the IMF, and that the G20 did not need to be constantly busy to have an impact when it needed to. On the other hand, we recognised that the compositions and rules of the IFIs did still have to be adapted further to the new economic realities and that, in this context, the failure of the Congress to ratify proposed changes to the IMF (and of the Administration to try hard enough to persuade Congress) risked being highly damaging to US leadership and to global economic governance.

How should the US lead?
We discussed whether the international situation was really worse now than in living memory, as we might easily conclude from watching the nightly news. It certainly felt like that to those grappling with the many problems from within the US Administration. There was no doubt that the world was increasingly complex, with not only more states than ever, but also a multiplicity of non-state actors, difficult to understand and harder still to satisfy. It seemed increasingly unstable and unpredictable. The lack of co-operation and comprehension between some of the main actors, and the obvious weaknesses of global governance, hardly helped. Trust was sadly lacking at a global level, and trying to restore it should be a priority for all.

However some historical perspective was needed. The Cold War might have been more predictable and structured, but the stakes had been higher. Was 2014 really worse than, say 1956, 1968 or 1979, or the Cuba missile crisis? The US had had to watch helplessly the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian and Czech uprisings. We certainly faced some intractable problems, but at the same time hundreds of millions of people were being lifted out of poverty in China, India and elsewhere. Economic interdependence was a stabiliser, even if there was no guarantee that it would avert conflict in any particular situation. So there was no reason for unnecessary gloom.

We had no neat recommendations for US policy but some clear directions of travel emerged from our discussions:

  • The Americans should be confident in their strength and potential influence, and their continuing ability to do good in the world. Avoiding “stupid stuff” was a start, but not enough for the kind of policy the US and the world needed.
  • As for any country, the ultimate foundation of overseas power and influence was the strength of the domestic economy. That had to be got right as a top priority.
  • There was a renewed appetite for US leadership but this should be exercised from ‘within the team’ and through partnerships wherever possible, not from a “sole super-power” perspective.
  • Strategic perspective and strategic patience were needed more than ever. It was never easy to resist the siren short term calls of the media and domestic politics, but the US needed to think long-term and build the right fundamentals (as, it was argued, Obama had been quietly trying to do).
  • The US needed clearer guiding concepts, principles, strategic priorities and goals. US policy was often hard to decipher from the outside, and the eyes needed to be lifted from fighting the inevitable fires from time to time.
  • Political and economic policies should be brought closer together through the systematic mutual consultation of the two policy establishments.
  • The Administration should put even more effort into concluding the two major international trade deals (TPP and TTIP), recognising their huge strategic and geopolitical significance as well as their economic benefits.
  • The US should not hesitate to promote its values and principles, but had to ensure its own behaviour did not depart too obviously from them, to preserve moral authority. Open talk of US exceptionalism and lecturing of others should be avoided as far as possible, but the effort to preserve a wide liberal, democratic base in the world should be maintained.
  • The US needed to go on working closely with, and giving a clear lead to, its European allies, while insisting that they do more to help themselves, including on issues like Ukraine.
  • Alliances were more vital than ever for the US, and needed cultivating on a more long-term basis. Consultative leadership should be the order of the day.
  • Ad hoc coalitions would be important, for individual issues. They were no substitute for reliable alliances, but could still increase legitimacy and impact.
  • The rebalance to Asia remained vital, and should be pursued as a long-term goal. Helping respond to Chinese assertiveness in the region was necessary, but so was a co-operative US/China relationship.
  • Overseas military intervention should remain in the toolbox, but for rare use only, and with a light footprint wherever possible.
  • Sanctions and extraterritorial legal action should also be used with care and selectivity to avoid undermining globalisation and alienating allies and friends.
  • The US should play an active role in trying to improve the multilateral system, since ultimately a rules-based co-operative approach was in US interests. A revitalised G20 was also in the US’s interest.
  • US soft power remained enormous. Although this went far wider than government policy, investing more in tools like diplomacy and overseas information capability, as well as maintaining an open immigration policy for the best and brightest, would be well worthwhile.
  • Sympathetic powers around the world should be asking not what the US could do for them, but what they could do to help American and other international efforts to fix global problems and keep global governance on track.
  • The US should be bolder in its readiness to reform institutions, both its own and the international ones. Clinging onto outdated and ineffective institutions and regulatory systems was a recipe for disaster.
  • US consultative leadership was needed not only in the obvious political and economic areas, but on the major cross-cutting issues where progress remained so difficult, but so important: climate change, cyber security, non-proliferation, macro imbalances …
  • Getting the right relationship with Russia would be important. The temptation simply to demonise Putin and Russia should be avoided, and the right balance found between steely resistance to aggression, and readiness to work together where there were common interests.
  • The US should not neglect its immediate neighbours (Mexico and Canada) or its wider Latin American neighbourhood.
  • A fresh effort to get IMF reform through Congress was desperately needed. The damage would be wholly disproportionate otherwise.

Throughout most of the discussion, there was an interesting contrast between general gloom about the state of the world (though this was not necessarily shared by Asian colleagues), and relative optimism about the US and its strength and future role. This is different from the prevailing trope about US decline and weakness. The next US President may have more of a hand to play in the world than is currently assumed, if some of the worst effects of domestic gridlock and polarisation can be overcome. That may however prove to be a big “if”.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression. Not all attending participants have been named, at their request.


CHAIR: Professor Joseph Nye
Distinguished Service Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2004-); Author, 'The Future of Power' (2011). Formerly: Dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1995-2004); Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1994-95); Chairman, National Intelligence Council (1993-94); Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Dr Michael Fullilove 
Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney (2012-; formerly Director, Global Issues Programme, 2003-12); Non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC (2009-). Formerly: Visiting Fellow in Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution; Consultant on the establishment of the Lowy Institute; Lawyer; Adviser to the Prime Minister of Australia.

Dr Wendy Dobson
Professor and Co-Director, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (1993-); Chair, Pacific Trade and Development Network. Formerly: Associate Deputy Minister of Finance (1987-89); President, C. D. Howe Institute (1981-87). A Member of the Board of Directors, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Colin Robertson 
Senior Strategic Adviser, McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP, Washington, DC; Vice President and Fellow, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute; Executive Fellow, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary; (Honorary) Captain, Strategic Communication Directorate, Royal Canadian Navy; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University; Chair, Board of Directors, Canada World Youth. Formerly: President, National Capital Branch, Canadian International Council; Canadian Diplomatic Service; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Treasury Board Secretariat; Petro-Canada International.
Mr John Stackhouse 
Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; Senior Fellow, C.D. Howe Institute, Toronto. Formerly: Editor-in-Chief, The Globe and Mail (2009-14); Business Editor, The Globe and Mail (2004-09); National Editor, Foreign Editor, Correspondent at large, Foreign Correspondent. Author: 'Out of Poverty' and 'Timbit Nation'. Board Member, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Mark Wiseman 
President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto (2012-); Board Member, Canadian Coalition for Good Governance; Board Member, Capital Markets Institute; Board Member, Mount Sinai Hospital; Board Member, Right to Play International. Formerly: Executive Vice-President of Investments, CPP Investment Board; Senior Vice-President of Private Investments, CPP Investment Board; Vice President at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto; Vice President, Harrowston Inc., Toronto; Lawyer, Sullivan & Cromwell, New York and Paris; Law Clerk to Madam Justice Beverley McLachlin, Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa; Chairman, Institutional Limited Partners Association; Chairman, Youth Without Shelter.

Mr Christian Leffler
Managing Director, Americas, European External Action Service (2011-). Formerly: European Commission (1996-2011): Deputy Director General, Development Cooperation (2010); Head of Cabinet to Vice President of the European Commission, Margot Wallström (2007-10); Deputy Chief of Staff to the European Commissioner for External Relations.

His Excellency Mr Joâo Vale de Almeida
European Union Ambassador to the United States (2010-). Formerly: European Commission (1982-): Director General for External Relations, European Commission (2009-10); EU Sherpa for G8 and G20 Summits (2005-10); Head of Cabinet for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (2004-09); Deputy Chief Spokesman of the European Commission.

Dr Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF): Senior Transatlantic Fellow; Director, Paris Office; leads GMF's Transatlantic Security Task Force. Associate Professor, Sciences Po, Paris; Co-Editor-in-Chief, 'Politique Americaine' journal; Scholar, Center for International Studies and Research (CERI-Sciences Po); Observatory on US Foreign Policy (OPA), University Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle; Observatory on the United States of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, University of Quebec, Montreal. Formely: Advisor to Commander, United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis (2010-13); Advisor on US foreign policy and transatlantic relations, Policy Planning, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009-11); Researcher and Consultant, French Ministry of Defense (2006-09).

Dr Philip Ackermann
German Diplomatic Service: Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Germany to the United States of America. Formerly: Deputy Special Representative and Head of Afghanistan/Pakistan Task Force, Berlin; Head of Political Department, German Embassy, New Delhi (2007-10); Civilian Head, German Provincial Reconstruction Team, Kunduz, Afghanistan; private office of Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier (2005-06); Principal Speechwriter to former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Dr Harinder Sekhon 
Independent Strategic Analyst. Formerly: Senior Fellow, US Studies Programme, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi; Intelligence and Strategic Analyst, National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India; Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Centre of Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (1999-2001); Associate Professor of History, MCMDAV College for Women, Chandigarh (1986-98).

Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami 
President, The Japan Institute of International Affairs, Tokyo (2009-). Formerly: Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan; Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom; Senior Visiting Fellow, Middle East Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs; A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation (2004-09).
Professor Hitoshi Tanaka 
Chairman, Institute for International Strategy, Japan Research Institute Ltd; Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange; Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo. Formerly: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-05); Director General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau (2001-02).

His Excellency Mr Eduardo Medina Mora 
Ambassador of Mexico to the United States of America (2013-). Formerly: Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom (2009-12); Attorney-General (2006-09); Secretary of Public Security (2005-06); President, National Public Security Council (2005-06); Director General, Centre for Investigation and National Security, Mexico's intelligence agency (2000-05); Member, National Security Council (2000-09); Corporate Director of Strategic Planning and Deputy Director General, DESC Group (1991-2000); legal advisory group to the Mexican Government during the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Dr Jamie Shea 
NATO: Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. Formerly: Director of Policy Planning, Private Office of the Secretary General (2005-10); Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Public Diplomacy Division (2003-05); Director of Information and Press (2000-03); Spokesman and Deputy Director of Information and Press (1993-2000); Deputy Head and Senior Planning Officer, Policy Planning Unit and Multilateral Affairs Section of the Political Directorate (1991-93).

Minister Counsellor Liu Weimin 
Chinese Diplomatic Service (1990-): Minister Counselor, Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Washington, DC. Formerly: Spokesman, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) (2011-12); Visiting Scholar, Hoover Institution (2005-06); Department of European Affairs, MFA; Information Department, MFA.
Professor Haibin Niu 
Senior Fellow, Deputy Director, Center for American Studies; Assistant Director, Institute for International Strategic Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies; Deputy Secretary-General, Chinese Association for Latin American Studies.

Mr Pawel Swieboda 
Founder and President, demosEuropa, Centre for European Strategy (2006-). Formerly: Director, Department of the European Union, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2001-06); Head, Office for European Integration, Office of the President (2000-01); Advisor to the President of Poland on EU issues (1996-2000).

His Excellency Mr Sungnam Lin KCVO
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United Kingdom (2013-). Formerly: Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Deputy Chief of Mission and Political Minister, Embassy of Korea, Beijing.

Professor Alexander Dynkin 
Director, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (2006-); a Member of the Presidium, Presidential Council for Science, Technology and Education (2012-; general Member 2008-); Member, Russian Presidential Commission for Strategic Development of the Fuel and Energy Sector and Environmental Security (2012-); Member, Russian Presidential Economic Council (2012-); Board of Directors, Acron; Chair, Economics Department, International University, Moscow (2001-). Formerly: Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, Russian Federation (1998-99).

Mr Edward Carr
Foreign Editor, The Economist (2009-). Formerly: Business Affairs Editor, The Economist (2005-09); News Editor, The Financial Times (2000-05); Science Correspondent, The Economist.
The Rt Hon. Baroness D’Souza CMG
Life Peer (Crossbench); Lord Speaker (2011-); Joint President, British-American Parliamentary Group. Formerly: Convenor of the Independent Crossbench Peers, House of Lords (2007-11); Redress Trust: Director (2003-04), Consultant (2004-06); Executive Director, Article 19 (1989-98); Overseas Development Administration Research Fellow (1988-89); Independent Research Consultant: United Nations, Save the Children, Ford Foundation (1985-88); Founder Director and Research Director, International Relief and Development Institute (1977-84).
Mr Peter Hill 
Director for Strategy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A Member of the Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.
Sir Paul Tucker 
Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School; Visiting Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford. Formerly: Bank of England (1980-2013): Deputy Governor (2009-13); Member: Monetary Policy Committee, Financial Policy Committee (Vice Chair), Prudential Regulatory Authority Board (Vice Chair), the Court of Directors. Member, Steering Committee, G20 Financial Stability Board (chaired its Committee on the Resolution of Cross-Border Banks); Member, Board of Directors, Bank for International Settlements; Chair, Basel Committee for Payment and Settlement Systems (2012-13). A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.
Mr John Weston CBE
Chairman: MB Aerospace, Torotrack (manufacturer of continuously variable automotive transmissions), Fibercore (manufacturer of specialist fibre optic cables), Accesso (systems company in innovative queuing devices, booking and payment systems). Formerly: Chair, software, design engineering and on-line learning companies; CEO, BAE Systems. A Governor and a Member of the Business Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.
Dr Catherine Wills 
Art Historian. A Governor and Member of the Council of Management and Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation; A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Lady Judge CBE 
Former Chairman, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority; Chairman, UK Pension Protection Fund (2010-); Deputy Chairman, TEPCO Reform Committee and Chairman of its Task Force on Nuclear Safety; Director, NV Bekaert SA (Brussels); Director, Statoil (Norway); Director, Magna International (Canada), among others. Formerly: Executive Director, Samuel Montagu & Co. Ltd; Director, News International; Commissioner, US Securities and Exchange Commission. A Governor and a Member of the Programme Committee and Business Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.
Mrs Xenia Wickett
Project Director, US Programme, and Acting Dean, Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House. Formerly: Executive Director, PeaceNexus Foundation, Switzerland; Director, Project on India and the Subcontinent, Executive Director for Research, and Board Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University (2005-08); Director for South Asia, National Security Council, The White House; US Department of State (2001-05): positions in Bureau of South Asia, Bureau of Nonproliferation, Homeland Security Group. A Member of the Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Peter Bass

Managing Director, Promontory Financial Group, LLC. Formerly: Executive Assistant to the National Security Adviser, the White House; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, Sanctions and Commodities; Senior Adviser, Office of the Secretary, Department of State; Vice President, Chief of Staff to President and co-COO, Goldman Sachs & Co.; Treasurer and Director, The American Ditchley Foundation.
The Hon. John Bellinger III
Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, DC; Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations; Member, Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law; Member, Department of Defense Legal Policy Board; Member, Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. Formerly: Legal Adviser to the US Department of State, Washington, DC (2005-09); Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (2001-05); Counsel for National Security Matters, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice (1997-2001); Of Counsel, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996); Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (1988-91). A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Dr Karen Donfried
President, German Marshall Fund of the United States (2014-). Formerly: Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council; National Intelligence Officer for Europe, National Intelligence Council; Executive Vice President, German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF); Senior Director for Policy Programs, GMF; Europe Portfolio, Policy Planning Staff, US Department of State; Director of Foreign Policy, GMF; European Affairs Specialist, Congressional Research Service. Member: Council on Foreign Relations and American Council on Germany.
Mr James F. Hoge Jr 
Senior Advisor, Teneo Intelligence (2012-); Editor Emeritus, 'Foreign Affairs'; Vice Chairman, International Center for Journalists (2010-); Director, Foundation for a Civil Society (2000-). Formerly: Chairman, Human Rights Watch (2010-13); Counselor, Executive Office, Council on Foreign Relations (2010-12); Editor, Foreign Affairs magazine, Council on Foreign Relations (1992-10); Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1991-92). A Director and Chairman of the Advisory Council, The American Ditchley Foundation.
The Hon. Reuben Jeffery III 
CEO, Rockefeller & Co. Inc., New York (2010-); Non-Executive Director, Barclays Plc (2009-); Member, International Advisory Council, China Securities Regulatory Commission. Formerly: Under-Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs (2007-09); Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (2005-07); Special Assistant to the President, National Security Council (2004-05); Goldman Sachs & Co. (1983-2001). A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Cary A. Koplin 
Managing Director, Investment Management Division, Neuberger Berman, LLC (2000-). Formerly: Managing Director, Schroder Wertheim & Co. Inc./Wertheim & Co. (1966-2000). President, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Ms Anja Manuel 
Co-Founder and Principal, RiceHadleyGates LLC (2009-); Lecturer in International Policy Studies, Stanford University (2009-); Board Member, Internews; Member, Aspen Strategy Group; Board of Advisors, Center for a New American Security; Board Member, Flexport. Formerly: Counsel, WilmerHale (2001-05, 2008-09); Special Assistant for South Asia to Under-Secretary of State, US Department of State (2005-07); Investment Banker, Salomon Brothers (1996-97).
Dr Jessica Tuchman Mathews 
President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1997-); Member, Harvard Corporation; Trustee, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Director, SomaLogic (2001-); Director, Hanesbrands Inc. (2006-). Formerly: Director, Washington program, and Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations (1994-97); Deputy to the Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs (1993-94); Founding Vice President and Director of Research, World Resources Institute (1982-93); Editorial Board, Washington Post (1980-82); Director, Office of Global Issues, National Security Council (1977-79). A Member of the Advisory Council, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Ms Jami Miscik 
President and Vice-Chairman, Kissinger Associates (2009-); Member, President's Intelligence Board (2009-); Board of Directors: EMC Corporation, In-Q-Tel, Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly: Global Head of Sovereign Risk, Lehman Brothers (2005-08); Deputy Director for Intelligence, CIA (2002-05); Director, Intelligence Programs, National Security Council (1995-96). A Director, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Thomas Pickering 
Vice Chairman, Hills and Company, Washington, DC; Consultant, The Boeing Company. Formerly: Senior Vice-President International Relations and Member, Executive Council, The Boeing Company (2001-06); Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, US Department of State (1997-2000); President, Eurasia Foundation (1996-97); Ambassador of the US to Russian Federation (1993-96), to India (1992-93); Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1989-92); Ambassador to Israel (1985-88), to El Salvador (1983-85), to Nigeria (1981-83), to Jordan (1974-78). A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Jacob Sullivan 
Oscar M. Ruebhausen Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in National Security, Yale Law School. Formerly: National Security Advisor to the Vice President (2013-14); US Department of State: Director of Policy Planning (2011-13); Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2009-13); Deputy Policy Director, Hillary Clinton for President (2007-08); Chief Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Amy Klobuchar (2006-07); Law Clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer, US Supreme Court (2004-05).
The Hon. Strobe Talbott 
President, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC (2002-). Formerly: Founding Director, The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization (2001-02); Deputy Secretary of State, US Department of State (1994-2001); Ambassador-at-Large and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State on the New Independent States (1993-94). Chairman, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Jeffrey Wright 
DPhil Candidate in International Relations, Nuffield College, University of Oxford (2013-); Research Associate, International Institutions and Global Governance Program, Council on Foreign Relations (2013-); Research Assistant to Duncan Snidal, Nuffield College (2011-). Formerly: Weidenfeld Scholar, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2010-12); Truman-Albright Fellow, US Department of Health and Human Services (2009-10).