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President Donald Trump walks off after a joint press conference at the G-7 summit in France. President Donald Trump walks off after a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Why Restraint Is Winning Over More of the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment

Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019

Is restraint the answer to America’s foreign policy problems? The idea that the U.S. should avoid military interventions and rein in its global security commitments, instead emphasizing diplomacy and persuasion to advance its interests, has been steadily gaining ground over the past decade, helped along in that time by the failed U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Now restraint seems like a grand strategy whose time has come.

In his column last week, Stewart Patrick discussed a recent book by three leading proponents making the case for restraint as the guiding logic of America’s engagement with the world. Barry Posen, the doyen of what can be called the restraint renaissance, discussed what restraint would look like in practice on WPR’s Trend Lines podcast in June. Earlier this year, Stephen Wertheim posited restraint as one of the two poles in the current U.S. foreign policy debate, with the other being “the new Cold Warriors,” a framing I discussed in a previous column.* And a recently launched think tank, the Quincy Institute, is dedicated to promoting restraint, or what it calls “responsible statecraft,” as the basis of American foreign policy. ...

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