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Donald Trump and the orb of power

Want to save the world?

US President Donald Trump's first foreign trip in office upended the international order. He picked a side in the Sunni/Shia conflict, worried the Israelis and other nations about trusting him with their state secrets, continued his reduction of NATO to a merely transactional thing, and confirmed to European leaders that he'd rather cosy up to the world's strongmen than nurture America's oldest and most solid alliances.

German Chancellor Angela said, to an election rally after Trump had strutted off home: “The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent... We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.”

Meanwhile, Russia is winning its geopolitical chess game, after the weakening of Europe by the coming removal of the UK, and with the election of the disruptive, NATO-bashing Trump. And China, in promising a new huge infrastructure project – its “one belt, one road” Silk Route for the 21st Century – is driving at greater trade with the European Union (which may see any future Chinese deal-making with our island nation be an afterthought).

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on 30 May, (paywall), White House national security adviser HR McMaster and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn wrote: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors, and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

Young people in the UK may wonder how on Earth they can forge a future for themselves in this maelstrom, when the new “gig economy” makes even assembling burgers at McDonald's look like enviable job security and Brexit threatens to leave the UK behind other world powers and trading blocs.

What about those young people who believe there is, or at least should be, a “global community”? What career route is there for students who want to bring some order into this looming anarchy?

Here are some ideas for students who align with the view expressed in The Atlantic, in its critique of the White House's WSJ piece, that “You can have friends. Or you can have people you work with only when your immediate interests align. Those are not the same thing.”

I'll leave it to you to look at individual institutions and courses, their reputations and their course requirements. A Levels in languages, history, geography and economics may be advantageous, perhaps most of all in that they could reveal or reflect an interest and aptitude in a student.

International Studies

International Studies degrees try to develop an understanding, both historical and contemporary, of different cultures, societies, languages and political systems around the world. Continuing into postgraduate study may bring you into an arena in which you can propose solutions and courses of action and influence political decision-making at a high level.

This is closely related to International Relations, which looks specifically at the relationships between countries and societies.

Development Studies

More often found as a postgraduate opportunity than as a bachelor's degree, because it is highly inter-disciplinary, Development Studies looks at how political and economic factors explain, limit or enhance the development of the world's poorer nations. Issues like security, inequality, ecology, migration, public health and engineering all play into Development Studies.


Politics and Political Science degrees look at the development and workings of different political and governmental systems around the world and throughout history. They can, themselves, be quite politicised depending on where you study. They also have numerous sub-fields, like comparative politics and political economy, so look closely at the course content. Foreign policy and international relations may be a greater or lesser element of the degree.

A politics degree could bring many transferrable skills, not least in management.


They say that politics is how you want the world to work, and economics is how it actually works. Economics degrees look at how economies function (or not), through the behaviour and interactions of agents and markets, the use of resources and the application of public policy.

You don't necessarily have to have a maths brain to study economics, but it does help.

Strategic Studies

Normally only a postgraduate field, Strategic Studies looks at the interplay between international politics, diplomacy and economics, and military power, defense and intelligence. It has come to look more at “peace studies” as well as the study of conflict.

Often a route for someone who has studied in or alongside military service.

Aid careers

Working for an aid agency, development-focused non-governmental organisation or international agency is challenging, rewarding, sometimes dangerous and often harrowing. Aid agencies are crying out for workers from so many different fields that it's impossible to capture it all here, but some examples are:

  • Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Professions – law, accountancy
  • Management
  • Agriculture
  • Public relations, fundraising, lobbying

Languages will be really helpful if you want to work in international aid. Even if you don't end up earning a salary with an aid agency, volunteering for them is always a way to make a difference.


Language degrees go beyond mere translation and into studying culture, history and politics. They usually bring a period of study abroad.

Careers in journalism, international business (including tourism), diplomacy, law, international aid and development and teaching are all options with a language degree.



Posted by Nicholas Manthorpe on Thu, 1 Jun 2017

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Nick was a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and its sister weekly titles in Norfolk and Waveney, then served as Media Officer for North Norfolk District Council for 13 years. He now works as a writer and PR and media relations consultant. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, an associate member of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of East Anglian Writers.

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