Chubb Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Evan Greenberg criticized one of President Donald Trump’s favorite phrases and said the U.S. must avoid the risk of becoming so inward-looking that the nation cedes its historic role in shaping a liberal order that has benefited the country for decades.
“Without U.S. leadership, the system lacks confidence and our allies and others seek alternatives,” Greenberg wrote in his annual letter, which was published on the company’s website. “If we don’t defend this world order, and if we allow our current populism to turn into protectionism and simply follow a narrow view of an America First policy, other countries will naturally follow suit with their own brand of nationalism.”
Trump has promoted an “America First” agenda, saying the country has been taken advantage of in free-trade agreements with nations such as Mexico and is spending too much to defend allies. Without mentioning the president by name, Greenberg criticized many of his views.
For instance, the CEO stressed the importance of close ties with Mexico, a nation where he has expanded through acquisitions. And Greenberg criticized Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a leader who has won praise from Trump.
“A stable, growing, prosperous and open Mexico, friendly to the U.S., is in our national interest,” Greenberg wrote. “Russia is not our friend and no one should misunderstand them. Russia and Putin want to reassert their influence — they do not respect nation-state borders, physical or cyber, and they have a desire to undermine democratic states.”
‘Set the Tone’
Greenberg, 62, built one of the world’s largest insurers last year by combining his Ace Ltd. with Chubb Corp. The Zurich-based company operates in more than 50 nations. He has been vocal on the benefits of globalization, saying in February that the U.S. needs to remain open to people from the rest of the world. Those remarks followed an order by Trump to limit travel to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries. The letter built on Greenberg’s warnings.
“We have to have our eyes open to the fact that we could be witnessing the initial stages of the unraveling of the democratic liberal world order we have known all our lives, and that would spell trouble for our country,” Greenberg wrote. “We should not take the world we grew up with for granted. America should continue to set the tone and pace — we are the leaders of the free world and it relies on our dependability.”