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The World Is Still Getting Better—Even Under Trump

Putting New Threats in Perspective

Donald Trump at a tank manufacturing plant in Lima, Ohio, March 2019 Carlos Barria / Reuters

Seven years ago, we argued in this magazine that U.S. foreign policy thinking was dominated by pervasive threat inflation—a tendency among U.S. leaders to exaggerate the dangers the country faces and in so doing distort foreign policy decision-making. This chronic embellishment and exaggeration occurred despite the fact that                

the world that the United States inhabits today is a remarkably safe and secure place. It is a world with fewer violent conflicts and greater political freedom than at virtually any other point in human history. All over the world, people enjoy longer life expectancy and greater economic opportunity than ever before. The United States faces no plausible existential threats, no great-power rival, and no near-term competition for the role of global hegemon. . . . Although the United States faces a host of international challenges, they pose little risk to the overwhelming majority of American citizens.

Our arguments have certainly been

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