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Time for a New U.S. Foreign Policy Narrative

A Better Alternative to Trump's "America First"

Demonstrators near the White House in Washington, January 21, 2017. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump told a powerful story about the United States’ role in global affairs. It was a dramatic narrative full of free-riding allies, unchecked globalization, and nuclear brinkmanship. Refugees and immigrants were cast as villains, repressive regimes like Russia and China were regarded with admiration, and human rights and democratic freedoms were pushed to the sidelines. As a candidate, Trump painted a gloomy portrait of American weakness and decline, trends that he promised to reverse.

To the surprise of some and the fears of many, Trump’s dark vision resonated and continues to resonate over a year into his presidency. A quarter century as the world’s sole superpower has numbed much of the country to the role of global affairs in daily life. A July 2017 Pew survey found that nearly half of Americans agreed with the statement that the United States needs to “pay less

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