The Trump administration's withdrawal from world affairs is causing chaos, ex-NATO chief says

  • "There is only the United States with the global reach to act as someone who could restore international law and order," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNBC's Silvia Amaro in Brussels Monday.
  • The former secretary general of the military alliance has previously said the U.S. is the only country with the "material and moral greatness" to foster peace and prevent a slide into political chaos.
  • His comments come at a time of rising diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West.

President Donald Trump's "America First" approach to foreign policy is not part of the solution when it comes to restoring international order, according to the former head of NATO.

"There is only the United States with the global reach to act as someone who could restore international law and order," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNBC's Silvia Amaro in Brussels Monday.

"However, of course right now it seems a bit difficult because the U.S. president has, so to speak, retreated. He has withdrawn from world affairs and that is why we see all that chaos right now. The world needs leadership and only Americans can provide that leadership," Rasmussen said.

The former secretary general of the military alliance, who also served as Denmark's prime minister for eight years through to 2009, has previously said the U.S. is the only country with the "material and moral greatness" to foster peace and prevent a slide into political chaos.

His comments come at a time of rising diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West. The disappearance of a prominent journalist critical of Saudi Arabia's policies has triggered international outcry against the oil-rich kingdom — and rattled financial markets.

Europe must 'do more' to help America

Since his election in November 2016, Trump has ripped up the rule book when it comes to international diplomacy, either implementing — or threatening — import tariffs on goods coming from some of the U.S.'s long-standing allies like Europe, neighbors such as Mexico and Canada, and trading partners like China.

Nonetheless, Trump's agenda — and subsequent import tariffs — has proved popular among many voters who are worried about their livelihoods as well as the perceived threat of cheaper foreign imports and manufacturing.

"As things stand right now, there is a clear risk that President Trump will be re-elected in 2020, so he'll be around until 2024," Rasmussen said.

"In the meantime, I think (Europe) has the responsibility to give a platform to Americans who want American global leadership. And we should also — from the European side — do more to help the Americans exercise that leadership."

'Geopolitical recession'

Last week, political analyst Ian Bremmer warned the world was entering a "geopolitical recession." The president and founder of the political risk consultancy, Eurasia Group, argued this would herald the end of the U.S.-led global order.

"The Americans are less interested in exporting democracy ... Today there is an argument to be made that the Americans are exporting populism," Bremmer said at the ANZ Finance & Treasury Form in Singapore on Wednesday.

— CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.