Steven Walt on US Foreign Policy

Steven M Walt – academic dean and Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University – has a long, balanced article in the current edition Boston Review about US Foreign Policy. He concludes:

What is needed instead is greater confidence in America’s fundamental principles and institutions and greater wisdom in understanding what its power can and cannot accomplish. America’s core values of liberty and opportunity provide the energy upon which our economic prosperity is built. That prosperity, in turn, provides the sinews of our military power and the core of our international influence. But our ability to defeat other armies and our influence over the world economy does not give the United States either the right or the ability to impose these principles on others, and it hardly gives five percent of the world’s population the capacity to govern vast areas of the world by force. Instead of telling the world what to do and how to live-a temptation that both neoconservative empire-builders and liberal internationalists find hard to resist-the United States should lead the world primarily by its example. If we have faith in our principles, we will expect to win hearts and minds because others will see how we live and see what we have, and they will want those things too.

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