The Dangers of US Isolationism

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The Dangers of US Isolationism

8 May @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

This event can only be watched IN-PERSON.

In order to register your interest, please kindly email


In contrast to Western democracies that seek economic growth and peaceful coexistence, a new set of autocrats has emerged, each with their respective territorial ambitions. Three of the most notable powers in this autocratic axis are Russia, China, and Iran. Each seeks to escalate tensions in their region, and they increasingly collaborate in their shared desire to take on the US-led, rules-based international order.

It is essential to keep the ambitions of the new ‘Axis of Evil’ in check. This requires the US to maintain its primacy in the international system to prevent it from unravelling. Historically, the US in both WWI and WWII joined the wars late. Had the US exercised its strength and contributed to the war efforts earlier, it could have deterred adversaries of the West that sought to conquer its territory, and even brought peace.

History now risks repeating itself. Both Putin and Xi seek to revive their imagined days of glorious empire and have explicitly said as much. In the US, meanwhile, some now openly advocate for America to embrace isolationism. Yet if the US turns from its international commitments and perhaps even pulls out of NATO, this would only encourage the expansionism of Russia and its fellow autocrats.

However, America cannot tackle the threat alone. Western democracies must stand together to keep their adversaries in check. To avoid finding itself at the mercy of Putin’s Russia, and to blunt China’s growing economic and military spheres of influence, Europe must take more responsibility for its own collective defence and increase its defence expenditure. Not doing so and continuing to count on America’s protective power would also be a dangerous spur to Russian and Chinese expansionism.



Harley Lippman was appointed by President George W Bush to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad and has been reappointed by every president since.

In 2022, Harley was also appointed by President Biden to serve on the advisory board of the USAID Partnership for Peace Fund whose charter is to build economic, social, political connections between Israelis and Palestinians. This can serve as a foundation for joint economic ventures, fostering tolerance, and ultimately coexistence.

Harley serves in the board of Advisors of Yale University’s School of Management. Harley is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Columbia University’s Graduate School of International and Public Affairs. Harley also serves in the boards of foreign policy thinktanks including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Council member of the Brookings Institution.


Sir Richard Shirreff was born in Kenya in 1955 where he spent his early years. Educated in England, he graduated from Exeter College, Oxford (Modern History) before being commissioned into the British Army from Sandhurst. In his 37-year career, he commanded soldiers on operations at every level from platoon to division. This has included combat in the Gulf War of 1991 as a tank squadron leader and again in Iraq as a divisional commander, together with other operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Bosnia. In addition, he has extensive staff experience at brigade, Army HQ and in the Ministry of Defence. He commanded NATO’s Allied Reaction Corps and his final military assignment was NATO’s 4 star Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR). In February 2016, he co-founded Startegia Worldwide Ltd, a global risk advisory company, which has since built up a sizeable portfolio of clients across different sectors.

In 2016 his novel ‘2017: War with Russia’ was published in the UK, USA and Poland. It became a best seller and has been translated into eight languages. He is an honorary fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.



Barak Seener is a Senior Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and the founder of Strategic Intelligentia and the Gulf Futures Forum. Previously, Barak was a Global Intelligence Manager at HSBC and the Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on whose behalf he has debriefed international defence and security policy makers and diplomats on matters relating to Middle East security. Barak has lectured at NATO as well as the Royal College for Defence Studies. He also staged the world’s first, and hugely successful conference in London at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on Palestinian statehood. This examined the security Implications for the Region bringing together leading Israelis, Palestinians, US and European representatives in London 2011. Prior to joining RUSI, Barak was one of the Henry Jackson Society’s founders in Westminster and was the Henry Jackson Society’s Greater Middle East Section Director.

Barak published a book in 2018 entitled, ‘Commercial Risks Entering the Iranian Market: Why sanctions make investment in the Islamic Republic of Iran a high-risk proposition.’

Barak has published and provided analysis and expert commentary for a range of international broadcasters including Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Chinese CCTV, Fox News, Sky News, Voice of America, and news outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, the Evening Standard, Jerusalem Post and Xinhua.

Barak has published in publications including Newsweek, the National Interest, the American Interest, Jane’s Intelligence Review and Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst on counter-terrorism, US-China dynamics, risks to supply chains, globalization and the end of the liberal international order, transatlantic relations, universal jurisdiction, nuclear proliferation and Middle East issues including the Arab Spring, tensions in Libya, Egypt and Syria, strategic and security dynamic between Iran and the Gulf, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.



Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP is a British Conservative Party politician, soldier and author. He served in the Royal Green Jackets and reached the rank of Captain. He currently serves as the Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East and served as a UK Government Minister at the Ministry of Defence from 2017 to 2019. He also served as Chair of the Defence Select Committee between 2020 and 2023.





The panel discussion featured perspectives from several speakers on global leadership, US foreign policy, and threats to world order. Tobias Ellwood MP refers to the joint foreign policy endeavours that bind the US and the UK but emphasized how the UK has become increasingly risk averse over the past 30 years. Harley Lippman highlighted American apathy towards foreign affairs, citing domestic focus and a need for Europe to become more independent and emboldened in its foreign policy and approach to Russia. Barak Seener discussed a decline in US exceptionalism due to progressive influences and motivations for increased posturing by authoritarian states. General Sir Richard Shirreff emphasized the urgency of building better European defence and the need to integrate Ukraine into NATO to ensure European peace, criticizing UK defence spending and warning against US isolationism under Trump. Overall, the speakers collectively underscored concerns about global stability, the need for stronger European leadership, increased spending on UK defence, and the potential consequences of US disengagement.




This event can only be watched IN-PERSON.

In order to register your interest, please kindly email





8 May
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Committee Room 18, House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom
+ Google Map


Harley Lippman, Barak Seener


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