How to Win a Great-Power Competition

Alliances, Aid, and Diplomacy in the Last Struggle for Global Influence

“The United States is confronted with a condition in the world which is at direct variance with the assumptions upon which [our foreign] policies were predicated,” wrote a State Department official. “Instead of unity among the great powers . . . there is complete disunity.” The secretary of state concluded that the Russians were “doing everything possible to achieve a complete breakdown.” The president called for unilateral action to counter U.S. adversaries. “If we falter in our leadership,” he told Congress, “[we will] surely endanger the welfare of this nation.” These precise words were spoken in 1947, by Russia specialist Chip Bohlen, Secretary of …

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