John Rutherford Allen assumed the presidency of the Brookings Institution in November 2017, having most recently served as chair of security and strategy and a distinguished fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Allen served in two senior diplomatic roles following his retirement from the Marine Corps. First, for 15 months as senior advisor to the secretary of defense on Middle East Security, President Barack Obama then appointed Allen as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Allen served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Marine Corps and the Joint Force. Beyond his operational and diplomatic credentials, Allen has led professional military educational programs, including as director of the Marine Infantry Officer Program and commanding officer of the Marine Corps Basic School. He twice served at the United States Naval Academy, first as a military instructor, where he was named instructor of the year in 1990, and later as commandant of midshipmen. Among his other affiliations, Allen is a senior fellow at the Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
COVID19 could have been a trigger to bring the world closer together to combat an invisible but deadly common threat. Instead, it has accelerated and deepened divisions that had been taking shape for decades. We risk sliding into diverging and separate realities. For many, at least two different systems of values – democracy vs. authoritarianism – are crystallizing. How can we bring the world together to face common challenges? Are there still areas where we can work together? How can we mould global cooperative institutions to address security concerns? How can we overcome ideological divisions and find common solutions to the current and future health crises and address climate change? Can we prevent the world from setting up different and incompatible norms in how we develop and use emerging technologies? How can we revamp international institutions to be fit for the future?