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How to Make Right What Trump Gets Wrong

Making nice: Pompeo at the UN Security Council, New York City, January 2019 Carlo Allegri / REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump’s sharp-elbowed nationalism, opposition to multilateralism and international institutions, and desire to shift costs onto U.S. allies reflect the American public’s understandable weariness with acting as the global order’s defender and custodian. Over the last three decades, post–Cold War triumphalism led to hubris and clouded strategic thinking. After the 9/11 attacks, Washington stumbled badly in Afghanistan and Iraq; more recently, Russia has reasserted itself in eastern Europe and the Middle East, and China’s economic and military power have significantly expanded. Even among Trump’s opponents, these developments have led many to conclude that the only solution is a fundamental rethinking of U.S. strategy.

This is an overreaction. In truth, the pillars of U.S. strategy for the past 70 years—committing to the defense of countries that share U.S. values or interests, expanding trade, upholding rules-based institutions, and fostering liberal

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