Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Trump and World Order: The Return of Self-Help

by Stewart M. Patrick
February 14, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

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Since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, 13 successive U.S. presidents have agreed that the United States must assume the mantle of global leadership. Although foreign policy varied from president to president, all sent the clear message that the country stood for more than just its own well-being and that the world economy was not a zero-sum game.

That is about to change. U.S. President Donald Trump has promised a foreign policy that is nationalist and transactional, focused on securing narrow material gains for the United States. He has enunciated no broader vision of the United States’ traditional role as defender of the free world, much less outlined how the country might play that part. In foreign policy and economics, he has made clear that the pursuit of narrow national advantage will guide his policies—apparently regardless of the impact on the liberal world order that the United States has championed since 1945. 

In an article published in the latest volume of Foreign Affairs magazine, I analyze the potential signs of countries hedging against the United States in a world where U.S. leadership in geopolitics, economics, and climate change is uncertain.

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