Outlining A New Foreign Policy

It’s a new presidential term. A new global time. Maybe time for a new American foreign policy.

A small boat passes in front of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise anchored of the coast of Faliro, near Athens. (AP)

A small boat passes in front of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise anchored of the coast of Faliro, near Athens. (AP)

For half a century and more, the United States has been the world’s big, globe-straddling power.  There was the Soviet Union and there was lots of effort at friendly diplomacy, but the broad American grand strategy consensus has been that the United States should dominate the world militarily, economically and politically.  It could and it did.  It has.

But now new questions are being raised about whether the US can still afford that role.  And whether it still really works.  The call is to pull back.

This hour, On Point:  the call for a new, dramatically more modest American foreign policy.

-Tom Ashbrook


Barry Posen, professor of political science and director of the security studies program at MIT. His essay, “Pullback: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy” was published in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

William C. Wohlforth, professor of government at Dartmouth College. He co-authored a rebuttal to Barry Posen’s essay in Foreign Affairs; “Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “President’s Obama’s inaugural address is already making headlines for its points on domestic policy and social issues. But what did the most important national leader on Earth, the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military, have to say about foreign policy? Almost nothing, surprisingly enough.”

The Huffington Post “A harrowing nighttime flight over the African jungle and a wild search for a rebel leader helped forge a relationship between Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Rep. Ed Royce, two men at the forefront of Congress’ changing guard on foreign policy.”

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