U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 2018.
Carlos Barria / REUTERS

When U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, he deliberately signaled a definitive break with the internationalist consensus that has guided U.S. grand strategy since World War II. “We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy,” he proclaimed. “Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.” He was dumping cold war water on multilateralism and global governance—and the commentary that followed duly noted just how sharply his message diverged from those of his predecessors.

But Trump’s brand of statecraft is not in fact out of step with much of U.S. history. Rather, he is discarding the key tenets of U.S. foreign policy since World War II in

To read the full article

  • CHARLES A. KUPCHAN is Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • More By Charles A. Kupchan