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It’s time for the U.S. to loosen its grip on the World Bank

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Jim Yong Kim’s surprise resignation as president of the World Bank is effective Feb. 1.Andy Wong/AP Photo files

As Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of global affairs, collected her various awards for outstanding diplomacy in 2018, she insisted that the multilateral system of commerce, law and human rights had a future, even if the United States no longer wanted to champion it.

“My country, Canada, believes in these values,” Freeland said in New York in June when Foreign Policy named her Diplomat of the Year. “We are ready to defend them and the rules-based international order that unites all of the world’s cities on the hill,” she added, alluding to former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s characterization of his country in his 1989 farewell address.

Freeland returned to the idea in December, emphasizing that many smaller beacons could cast as much light as the single large one that Reagan described. “We do not want to live in a world where two or three great powers carve up the spoils for themselves, leaving the rest no choice but to choose sides and be satisfied with the scraps,” she said in Berlin, while accepting the Eric M. Warburg Award for transatlantic diplomacy from Atlantik-Brücke, a non-profit association dedicated to U.S.-German relations.  

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