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U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, speaks during an event at the Pentagon, Washington, Jan. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Trump Is a Symptom of the Post-American World, Not Its Cause

Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018

For the past 18 months, foreign policy pundits have debated whether or not U.S. President Donald Trump will have a temporary or lasting impact on global politics, and in particular whether he will fatally undermine the liberal international order—the network of multilateral institutions and security guarantees the U.S. has helped build and backstop since the end of World War II. More recently, though, that debate has shifted to whether the liberal international order ever really existed, or if it was instead rhetorical window dressing used to soften the rough edges of what amounted to U.S. hegemony.

In some ways, the more recent dispute is a matter of semantics. “Liberal international order” is often a lazy shortcut used to describe the status quo by columnists and pundits who, unlike scholars and academics, have 800 words rather than 800 pages to get their argument across. But there is a real value in examining the question, because the answer can help articulate an effective critique of Trump’s management of U.S. foreign policy, and formulate an agenda for repairing the damage Trump is doing to America’s standing in the world. ...

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