As Trump readies for his trip to Germany for the G20 Summit, one which should prove very interesting with the proposed meeting between Trump and Putin, I am caused to think about the United States’ diminished role as a world leader and who would potentially step up to fill that role.

Trump has been seemingly going out of his way to exert the primacy of U.S. interests at the expense of a more strategic vision that involves multi-lateral collaboration among our allies and engaging in a dialogue with our adversaries. “America First,” is destroying our foreign policy objectives of almost seven decades following the end of World War II and the rebuilding of Europe and Japan.

While I agree that every national leader needs to put the needs of their country first for the sake of its own citizenry, Trump’s own way of envisioning putting American interest first and foremost, ultimately damages our interests as we alienate long-standing allies and antagonize our adversaries.

To me, it seems to be clear that the United States, through the actions of a single ego-maniac at the helm, has effectively forfeited its right to declare ourselves the leader of the free world. How can we effectively claim to be the exemplars of virtue and democracy when corruption, nepotism, and authoritarianism threaten the very rights and freedoms we hope to espouse among the community of nations? An attempt to do so comes off as hypocritical at best. How can we even hope to decry human rights violations and totalitarian regimes when the new American Oligarchs (Plutocrats, maybe?) consistently seek ways to enrich the super-wealthy, and disenfranchise any that do not model the demographic of Straight-White-Male? The answer: We can’t. The actions of our president and his proxies destroyed that credibility to the world.

Thinking on this topic, I thought I’d dive into some independent research, and found that the answer to this question is not an easy one to answer. The affairs of international politics are complex in nature with numerous internal and external factors. I would however, propose the front-runners for a world-leadership role: Russia, China, Germany, and France. Check out the poll! I’d be interested as to your thoughts.

To say that China and Russia could claim the title of “Leader of the Free World” is a bit of a misnomer. The rationale for including them among my list, is that in the absence of the U.S. positive influence on the world, less qualified – yet very powerful – actors could take the reigns of world leadership, much to the chagrin of the U.S. and its European allies. I also omitted the UK because British leadership will be contending not only with Brexit but also a shifting political landscape, I am of the opinion that the British will be looking towards their own domestic policy issues.

Trump still has every intention of remaining involved in affairs of state abroad. I think it soothes his ego to do so; to “play-act’ as the “great diplomat.” More worrisome, however, are his closer relationships to authoritarian regimes to which he only sees the shallow perception of strength. Our continued involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan looks to be a continuing affair, so to say that we are employing isolationist policies may not be wholly accurate; yet, with continued alienation of our allies we may find ourselves working uni-laterally more often than not…something of a call-back to the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency when we invaded Iraq with lackluster international support.

What new alliances will we build and with whom? How long will our Allies and neighbors tolerate the infantile and hostile behavior of Donald Trump? What impacts to our own security and economy have yet to be seen?

By placing “America First,” Donald Trump has effectively weakened our position, widened the gap for security breaches, and made the United States the laughingstock of the international community (at best, the rest of the world looks upon the citizenry of the U.S. with pity). American prosperity and greatness is built upon our industry, our freedoms, and our commitment to collaborate with our partners abroad. Greatness is not achieved by fortifying our borders, insulting our friends and neighbors, shunning immigrants, and becoming further disconnected to world affairs (e.g.: Paris Climate Accord). It can only be hoped that those in the President’s cabinet can effectively repair (or at least maintain) our relationships with our allies and that world leaders (when devising their own policy objectives) forego direct collaboration with Donald Trump himself. I, however, do not remain optimistic as Trump’s toxic leadership can’t help but ooze into every facet of American domestic and foreign policy.

Is there a country you think I omitted among the contenders for the Leader of the Free World? Let me know! I’d love to hear your feedback! Leave your comments below, and if you haven’t already subscribe.