The world needs stronger American leadership, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Euronews, warning of a resurgence in authoritarianism across the world.
He was speaking from the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, an annual event that he hosts and which aims to strengthen democracies worldwide through debate.
"We lack a clear, global American ideological leadership. We know from experience that when the Americans retreat, they will leave behind a vacuum, and that vacuum will be filled by the bad guy, and that's exactly what we are witnessing right now," Rasmussen told Euronews in a live TV interview.
Take the Middle East, he said, citing conflict, upheaval and the resurgence of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia in the region ever since the United States disengaged from Syria.
"The world needs a policeman to restore international law and order and I don't see any other candidate for that role than the United States," Rasmussen said.
In the meantime, he suggests setting up an alliance of democracies led by what he would like to call the D10 – a group of leaders similar to the G7 that would bring together not the world’s economic heavyweights, but "democratic heavyweights like India, Australia and South Korea."
US President Trump is pulling troops out of Germany, and according to his former national security adviser John Bolton, he was on the brink of pulling out of NATO altogether. French President Emmanuel Macron also warned last year that NATO was nearly "brain dead."
Rasmussen deplored that statements like these undermine "the political credibility of the alliance".
"Of course, Europe should take more care of its own security, that goes without saying," he added. "But I consider European security linked to America."
"This is exactly why we established NATO many years ago – because we need American close cooperation with Europe to ensure our security."