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Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference, Iran, Nov. 28, 1943 (British Official Photo via AP Images).

America’s Quest for an Open World: A Grand Strategy Grounded in History

Monday, April 29, 2019

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Friedman Lissner make a compelling case for a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. The United States, they write, should abandon messianic liberal internationalism for the more realistic goal of an open world. Such a prudent policy has a lot to recommend it. It would also take America back to the future—to the grand strategy that President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorsed during World War II.

As I argued in my 2009 book “The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War,” it was “the quest for an open world” that animated FDR in the years after Pearl Harbor. At his direction, American wartime planners laid blueprints for a postwar international system based on collective security, economic multilateralism and political self-determination. This open world vision explicitly rejected the isolationism, protectionism and nativism that had dominated the interwar years, contributing to the Great Depression and World War II. It was the antithesis of the “America First” concept that isolationists embraced—and which Donald J. Trump has recycled today. ...

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