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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Can America Ever Escape Its Failing Foreign Policy?

Can America Ever Escape Its Failing Foreign Policy?

A bad strategy leads Washington into errors—but Washington doesn't care.
May 18, 2016 | America’s current foreign-policy framework has produced a string of failures. Iraq and Afghanistan were expensive messes; Libya and the Balkan interventions, destabilizing wars of choice; we’re plainly overextended in Europe and can never seem to realize our long-promised pivot to Asia. Many of our allies carp about the need for U.S. “leadership” and growing threats in their neighborhoods while spending pittances on their own defense; at the same time, the publics in the same countries appear to resent our efforts to defend them. We have amassed all the downsides of empire, while seeing few of its benefits. And within many Washington foreign-policy circles, the solution to the problems our approach has created is to double down. Indeed, while most public discussion has focused on the shortcomings of one major party’s candidate for the presidency, few seem concerned that the other major party is poised to nominate a candidate who was an enthusiastic cheerleader for all of the serious foreign-policy blunders I listed above. Perhaps the United States simply has no alternative to its current strategy.
Not so, argues Stephen Walt. In a keynote address to the Charles Koch Institute’s Advancing American Security conference today in Washington, D.C., the Harvard professor made a bracing case for a different direction, a U.S. foreign policy far more restrained than today’s adventurism yet far more engaged than the isolationism of, say, Sakoku-era Japan. By remaining aloof from many of the world’s friction points, the United States would be able to invest more in its own affairs, building a firmer foundation of national power.

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