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The Broken Bargain

How Nationalism Came Back

Meeting in the middle: Viktor Orban greets Angela Merkel in Budapest, February 2015. Tibor Ilyes / AP

Nationalism and nativism are roiling politics on every continent. With the election of President Donald Trump in the United States, the growing power of right-wing populist parties in Europe, and the ascent of strongmen in states such as China, the Philippines, and Turkey, liberals around the world are struggling to respond to populist nationalism. Today’s nationalists decry the “globalist” liberalism of international institutions. They attack liberal elites as sellouts who care more about foreigners than their fellow citizens. And they promise to put national, rather than global, interests first.

The populist onslaught has, understandably, prompted many liberals to conclude that nationalism itself is a threat to the U.S.-led liberal order. Yet historically, liberalism and nationalism have often been complementary. After World War II, the United States crafted a liberal order that balanced the need for international cooperation with popular demands for national autonomy, curbing the aggressive nationalist

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