An Alternative to U.S. World Dominance

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: Post-Cold War foreign policy has irrevocably failed. It is imperative that the United States develop a new grand strategy, one that focuses on dialogue and the pursuit of common interests, rather than conflict and a quest for dominance.

The election of Donald Trump is the culmination of decades of a failed foreign policy.

According to Bacevich, “Future scholars will enshrine the period between the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the presidential election of November 2016 as the era of imagined US global primacy.” When baffled voters swept President Trump into office, they exposed the failed assumptions of the previous era.

Three themes explain the actions of the United States in the post-Cold War era.

The first is hubris: the idea that the United States was the “indispensable nation,” the global hegemon that could bring the world into the light. The second was “military omnipotence,” the notion that our military was the best in the world, and could carry out our hegemonic goals. The third was “the belief that the present defines the future,” or the idea that history would be on “a fixed trajectory” going forward. The combination of these factors resulted in a series of failed wars and misguided interventions.

The world has changed, and the United States needs to adapt its foreign policy accordingly.

The U.S. is no longer (if it ever was) the global hegemon, as China continues to rise. The American people won’t countenance further wars for dominance like the wars in the Middle East. And geopolitics will likely take a backseat to “planetary politics,” things like addressing climate change.

As a result, the United States should roll back its military presence in the Middle East and elsewhere; it should seek to cultivate common interests with countries like China, rather than escalate tensions; and it should push for cooperation on shared, global issues like climate change.

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