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As the global balance of power shifts, and in the wake of crises such as the United States’ messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is an important time to consider the way U.S. foreign policy is made. What are the priorities shaping Washington’s agenda? Can the United States truly restore its leadership on the global stage? And how should the West respond as Russia escalates the war in Ukraine?
Emma Ashford is a keen observer of the foreign policy debate in Washington. A senior fellow at the Stimson Center, she consistently offers some of the most trenchant and thoughtful criticism of U.S. strategy and the forces shaping it. She has warned about the dangers of groupthink in Washington—and has made the case for accepting the limits of what U.S. power can achieve.
We discuss American foreign policy failures, the Biden administration’s handling of the war in Ukraine, and what great-power competition will look like in the years to come.
“Strategies of Restraint” by Emma Ashford
“In Praise of Lesser Evils” by Emma Ashford
“How the War in Ukraine Could Get Much Worse” by Emma Ashford
“Build a Better Blob” by Emma Ashford
“Ukraine Holds the Future” by Timothy Snyder
“The New Spheres of Influence” by Graham Allison
If you have feedback, email us at [email protected]
“The Foreign Affairs Interview” is produced by Kate Brannen, Julia Fleming-Dresser, and Markus Zakaria; original music by Robin Hilton. Special thanks to Grace Finlayson, Nora Revenaugh, Caitlin Joseph, Asher Ross, and Gabrielle Sierra.
I’m Dan Kurtz-Phelan, and this is “The Foreign Affairs Interview.”
Where I see the problem with the people arguing that negotiations aren’t going to work—that you can’t negotiate with a state like Russia—is they’re kind of offering this no-negotiation fantasy that we can, if we just back Ukraine enough, achieve some kind of victory that doesn’t actually require negotiation. And that’s not how wars end.
In the past few years, Emma Ashford has consistently offered some of the most trenchant and thoughtful criticism of U.S. foreign policy and the debate that shapes it. She is now a senior fellow at the Stimson Center. In her essays in Foreign Affairs and elsewhere, she’s warned about the dangers of groupthink; she’s made the case for restraint, for accepting the limits of what U.S. power can achieve; and since the start of the war in Ukraine, she’s warned of the dangers of escalation, which, she argues, only rise as the war goes on.
Emma Ashford, thanks so much for joining us.
Great! Thanks for having me today.
So Emma, you’ve established yourself as, I think, one of the essential critics of the mainstream of American foreign policy debate and, you know, through writing and speaking in a lot of venues—including the slew of pieces you’ve done for Foreign Affairs over the last few years. So I want to start quite broad and try to get you to kind of draw out the overarching critique of the United States. What do you see is the flaw in the way we talk about foreign policy issues that underlies a lot of your critique or dissatisfaction with how policy plays out in these areas?
I think my central critique of U.S. foreign policy boils down to the idea that it is not enough to simply think about the mistakes of the war on terror as something that is is not a bigger problem, right? It’s not enough to look back at the last twenty years and say, you know, we made a mistake, we made a mistake in invading Iraq, we made a mistake in the way we handled Afghanistan. And that’s fine, and U.S. foreign policy can just sort of get back on track now we’ve moved on. And the reason I say that is because I think we’re in a fundamentally shifting era of global politics, and I think people increasingly acknowledge this—we saw it in the last National Security Strategy from the last administration.
And you know, my feeling, my read of the international situation is that as we shift from this period of unipolarity, as the political scientists put it, from America being the most powerful state, treating the whole world as its sphere of influence—and we’re shifting more into an era that’s going to look something more like multipolarity, lots of different states jockeying in different regions, states that are capable of pushing back against the U.S.—that America is really over leveraged, that we are trying to do too much, and that it’s going to end up being sort of problematic for us if we keep trying to run with these policies that we had during that post-Cold War period where we basically had the preponderance of power.
And I guess I’ll add one final thing, which is, I also think we don’t take questions of political economy and kind of latent power seriously enough. You know, I think a lot of the discourse in Washington is about military power, and in that space America is still very much on top. But when you start to talk about comparative economics, there’s areas like energy where we are doing better, but then there’s areas like finance or trade where America’s not doing as well as it used to—and I think we don’t take seriously enough the role that those political economy questions play in great-power politics.
A lot to unpack there, but let’s start with some of that history. I mean, I think there is a fair amount of consensus in our foreign policy debate right now about the failures of the last, say, three decades of American foreign policy—the post-Cold War foreign policy. You get lots of different kinds of critiques. So there are people who are, you know, on the more hawkish end of the spectrum who would criticize that era of policy for not focusing enough on China and Russia earlier on. There are others who would focus on a different set of issues. You know, it’s easy, I think, for people to agree that Iraq was a mistake. What do you see as the other failures of that period or the other missed opportunities of that period?
Well, so, I think another failure that people in Washington are kind of starting to reckon with is the notion that we, through our engagement in the 1990s and the 2000s, we actually helped to abet the rise of China, which is now our major competitor. And that had good points, right—it lifted millions of people out of poverty. But it also brought us to the situation we’re in today where the U.S. in Asia is facing an increasingly difficult geopolitical landscape. So, I think in general U.S. foreign policy has been too expansive—too focused on trying to control everything, rather than sort of understanding that perhaps sometimes things happen in places that aren’t core to U.S. interests.
And I guess if I could just highlight sort of the one biggest problem that I think U.S. foreign policy has is that it has been fundamentally transformative. We’ve had these visions of ways that we can change the world. Economic development will make China into a responsible stakeholder; the war on terror will be civilizational, and we will help to remove the risk of terror forever; we will overthrow dictators in the Middle East, and democracy will flourish—these are all visions of ways in which America reshapes the world, and I do think we should be having slightly more modest goals when we talk about world politics. Thinking about American interests, thinking about our economy, thinking about the American people—that’s been subsumed under this very transformative approach.
You wrote a wonderful essay for the magazine about a year ago, which was called “Strategies of Restraint” and was about what seemed like a good moment for the restraint school of foreign policy debate. We can talk about whether that moment has passed, but when you reflect back on the previous period, why do you think restrainers had a relatively hard time getting traction in foreign policy debates through that period?
You know, I think some of the failure of restraint is tied up in the fact that Americans—culturally we’re just not set up to accept something that’s called restraint as good. And so I think during the period—again, the 1990s, the 2000s, America has no major competitors, the economy is mostly humming along quite well, the Soviet Union is gone, we’re not looking at resurgent China yet—it’s pretty easy for Americans to just gloss past questions of relative power and what we should do with our military and whether we can bear the costs of certain kinds of foreign policy. And so, I think it was very hard for those arguments to get traction. You look at the run-up to—the debate over the run-up to the Iraq War, you see a lot of prominent realists in the United States arguing against it saying this is going to be a disaster for all the reasons that it did turn out to be a disaster, but nobody was really willing to listen to them because I think there was this mindset that America really could do anything in that period. And as you say, over the last maybe five years or so, it became an easier sell to talk about restraining U.S. power. The financial crisis, the war on terror’s failures—everybody, I think the public, I think policymakers, started to accept that maybe we had to make some changes, and so it became easier to make those arguments.
So in the moment when that essay was published, it seemed, as I said, like a relatively good moment for the restraint side of these debates, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was seen as that side’s argument having won out in policy debates. I think you could take issue with the specifics of the withdrawal, but I think broad agreement that that kind of strategically was the right move. And it seemed like that was kind of setting the tone for even Biden administration policy in many ways, and we certainly ran pieces in Foreign Affairs that hailed the restraint of Biden through that period. A few months later, the war in Ukraine started, and I think this has shifted debate quite a bit. So I mean, how do you think the restraint side of this debate is doing in the Ukraine context? Do you see a change in the terms of this debate, or is it fundamentally where it was a year ago?
Yeah, and it’s, I think a salutary lesson—you should never hail the victory of any kind of moment because it will almost immediately receive backlash. You know, I think we have seen both of the last two administrations adopt some elements of a more restrained or more realist foreign policy, right? Not consistently in either administration, matched with different rhetoric under Trump and different rhetoric under Biden, but you know from things like the withdrawal in Afghanistan to Trump talking about burden-sharing in Europe—that mantle has been picked up to some extent by Biden—policymakers have adopted some of these terms.
But where it does get really interesting, as you say, is since the start of the war in Ukraine there’s been somewhat of a backlash to this idea. And I think it’s because, in the context of Ukraine, we see these notions of restraint come into conflict with the more transformative, global, idealistic approach that had governed U.S. foreign policy over the last three decades, and these two ideas come into conflict quite strongly. Restrainers or realists arguing that maybe we should support Ukraine, but we have to be worried of escalation—this is a great-power conflict; we have to worry about what Russia is doing.
And then more idealist approaches saying, but Ukraine is in a war for its life; Ukrainians are fighting for the just cause. We have to support them all the way. And again, I think you’re back in that situation where restraint—even though it is probably the more pragmatic, rational approach here and even though it’s pretty much what the Biden administration is actually doing—it’s a harder sell rhetorically than it was when talking about failures in the Middle East.
One thing that seems striking about your work is that you are—forgive me if I’m mischaracterizing you here, but you are both a realist and a restrainer in my understanding of your assumptions. Is that fair to say?
Yes and no. Restraints can be a couple of things. You know it’s a grand strategy, very specific—a book by Barry Posen, very specific prescriptions for how America should act in the world—I’m not a restrainer in that sense. But there’s this broader political coalition of people pushing for more restrained U.S. foreign policy, and I definitely think I fall in that camp. And I think there’s some confusion between the two, and I think the political coalition is a much broader tent than a lot of people give it credit for.
I mean you—and a number of other people, kind of the younger side of this debate—tend to engage in the policy debate in a much more active way than perhaps some of the older generation of scholars, and you have certainly done that in the Ukraine context. You wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs early on both warning about the risks of escalation in the war, but also praising the Biden administration for what you called a “relatively careful and judicious approach to arming Ukraine.” A lot has changed on the battlefield since you wrote that about six months ago. Do you still find the administration’s approach relatively restrained, and how do you see the escalation risks now?
I certainly think the Biden administration has made some mistakes in how they’ve handled this war. You know, I would not have framed this in a democracy versus autocracy framing. I think they’ve been perhaps a little too willing to follow the Europeans down some extremely draconian economic sanctions—I think, you know, the big spike in energy prices that we saw in the spring was partly the result of that. But in general, yeah, I still believe that the Biden administration has taken a fairly judicious approach to the war in Ukraine. We are arming the Ukrainians, we are funding them; but we’re not sending U.S. troops, we’re not doing a no-fly zone, we’re not sending some of the most advanced weapons that could cause escalation. And so I think the Biden administration has been quite cautious.
Where I do start to worry is when we get into this question of escalation risks. And I think over the summer we were in this sort of second phase of the war—very grinding, attritional, neither side making big gains—I think the escalation risks were quite low during that period. We sort of knew by then that the Russians would not escalate if we continued the flow of arms into Ukraine. But that’s not the condition that we’re in right now; that’s not the conflict we’re seeing today.
Now, we have seen a massive Russian escalation in the last week. We’ve seen Russia announce mobilization; they just annexed territories of Ukraine legally into Russia; there’s nuclear saber-rattling; there’s talk about pipelines, which I don’t think we know enough about yet to really sort of talk about in depth—but the Russians have escalated substantially. They’re signaling, I think very clearly, that they’re willing to bear substantial political costs to continue this war, and I don’t think the administration has a clear vision for how the war ends at this point. And so, that is where I do think they’ve done a good job to this point, but I think they need to be firmer about thinking—you know, maybe there are no negotiation possibilities now, but when might we see those possibilities and what are we going to do when they arise?
That seems like a limitation of both sides of this debate, from where I sit at least—that you have a group of people who are very attuned to the escalation risks and the costs of a long war and and all of the human suffering on the ground, the economic costs, the risk that will accumulate over time. You also then have a school of people who are very attuned to the limitations of negotiations and can point out why it seems relatively far-fetched to come up with some kind of diplomatic compromise here. You know, I’m not sure we’ve heard a compelling story of how this ends from either side. Do you think that’s unfair? Do you see a path to a diplomatic outcome that you think is not getting adequate attention in the policy process right now? It’s obviously a little hard to know exactly what is happening through secret channels, but it certainly doesn’t seem like there’s a lot on the diplomatic front.
There’s not, and I do worry the window for negotiations is, if not closing, there are certainly not many good options in the foreseeable, immediate future. I do think there have perhaps been some windows where we could have talked about at least a ceasefire. There have been signs that diplomacy isn’t dead. The Russians and the Ukrainians agreed on this grain export deal in the Black Sea. There have been prisoner swaps that have been quite successful—high-profile prisoners in exchange for Ukrainian forces. So diplomacy is not dead.
And at some point I think we will reach a point where both sides have, to some extent, rethought their war aims and lowered those aims enough that there might be a settlement there. We’re not there yet, but I think we will get there. And so, where I see the problem with the people arguing the opposite—that negotiations aren’t going to work, that you can’t negotiate with a state like Russia—is they’re kind of offering this no-negotiation fantasy that we can, if we just back Ukraine enough, achieve some kind of victory that doesn’t actually require negotiation. And that’s not how wars end the vast majority of the time. It’s certainly not how wars end when you’re looking at a nuclear-armed great power.
So my concern is that—you’re right—I think neither side has a plausible theory of how this ends exactly right now. But at least from my point of view, I can get there eventually. I’m not sure the other side can because what they’re basically talking about is absolute victory.
Meaning this war will go on for a long time, but eventually there will be a willingness on both sides to come up with some kind of compromise—that is your plausible story of how this how this ends, whether that’s in six months or two years or five years.
Exactly. And what I would like to see the administration do is think a little more clearly about what are the parameters that—you know, what do we want to see in that deal? What is important to us? What’s important to Ukraine? Where do those positions diverge? We should be doing that thinking now. Because I think if we just let this continue to roll along, then best case scenario this becomes a permanent conflict in Ukraine that sort of impoverishes everybody, that can escalate at any time, and the worst case scenario is that this escalates further into a broader war to nuclear use. I think those risks are very real, and letting the conflict roll on forever is not the best way to avoid them.
Do you see more that the U.S. and its partners could be doing to head off those risks of nuclear use?
We were in a situation over the summer where those escalation risks were relatively low. I think it would be helpful now to make clear—for Washington in particular to make clear to Kyiv—where we see those risks being highest and what we sort of will and won’t support and, for example, if we believe that Crimea is a red line for Russia. And I think that’s a very plausible argument. Then we do need to be talking with Kyiv now about how does the Zelensky government avoid a situation where they’re under huge popular pressure in Ukraine to escalate into Crimea. We need to be having those conversations now so that we don’t get there and be surprised and risk escalation.
We’ll be back after a short break.
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People have framed the war in Ukraine, or the stakes of the war in Ukraine, in various ways. You mentioned democracy versus autocracy. Tim Snyder, in our pages, calls it a war between democracy and nihilism. I think probably the consensus view in the American foreign policy community at least is that this is symptomatic of what is widely recognized as the dominant condition of this geopolitical moment which is great-power competition, that this is about a return to some of these dynamics that we had mostly forgotten about in the 90s and early aughts. Do you find great-power competition a useful framing, a useful concept in foreign policy debate? It in some ways does reflect an acceptance of power and power realities in ways that were perhaps missing earlier, but there are obviously, of course, pitfalls to framing things in this way.
Yeah, there really are pitfalls to using great-power competition as a prescription for how the U.S. should approach the world—like “we will compete, we must compete”—you know, that kind of language is pretty problematic. But as a description, I think great-power competition fares a little better. And if I were to basically suggest a cause for the war in Ukraine and a cause for some of the tensions that we’re seeing over Taiwan and elsewhere, it is the notion that America is bumping up right against the borders of other states that do have the capacity to push back and resist that and are concerned about that—so it’s NATO expansion. It’s not just NATO expansion, right? It’s the fact that almost every state of the post-Soviet bloc has been pulling away from Russia, pulling towards Europe, and that that raises alarm bells in Moscow. It’s the idea that Taiwan might make some concrete choice to shift away from China towards the West. And it’s in those places—geographically right next to great powers, culturally or politically important to those great powers, like Ukraine, like Taiwan—that’s where we’re seeing the friction that can actually turn into conflict. So I mean, I think as a description, great-power competition or great-power tensions explain why we’re starting to see these conflicts.
There are scholars who I think we’d broadly call realists who look at that set of risks and look at that condition and return to some version of spheres of influence as a solution. I mean we’ve run—John Mearsheimer says a version of that, Graham Allison has written that a bit more explicitly for us. That does seem in some ways like a logical solution to the risk you describe, but it’s repellent for lots of other reasons, including does it mean saying to Ukrainians or people in Taiwan that they have little say over their own political future. How do you see the spheres of influence dimension of this debate, and is that inevitably part of the outcome here—of great-power competition—is it the condition we’re facing?
You know, I think we frame the discussion about spheres of influence wrong. I think we frame it as, as you say, as this repellent concept. It’s normative. It’s terrible. It’s the idea that we’re going to sell citizens of democracies into slavery to Russia or China, something like that. But that’s really not what sphere of influence is. A sphere of influence is, I would say, more factual—it is the place where one great power basically says to another, “I am not willing to challenge you. The costs of me intervening here are too high, and I am not willing to bear those costs.” And so I think from that point of view Ukraine is actually a very clear example of spheres of influence in practice. We’re seeing Russia trying to assert control over Ukraine and put it in its sphere of influence—and failing quite effectively so that’s good.
But we’re also seeing the U.S. say there are limits, right? “I will not intervene directly; I will arm and fund you to defend yourself, but I’m not intervening directly because the costs are too high.” And America’s putting limits there on its own sphere of influence. And that suggests to me a path forward, which is yes, we do have to get back to the notion of embracing, at least implicitly, spheres of influence, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t support countries in other ways. There’s great work on turning Taiwan into a porcupine that makes it too costly for Beijing to intervene in—these kinds of solutions that aren’t direct control, direct U.S. intervention, are a way to get past that moral problem.
How do you see the state of the China policy debate in Washington right now? To what extent do you see it incorporating some of the the lessons that you’ve helped identify from the past few decades of American foreign policy, and to what extent do you see it exhibiting the same pathologies in your mind?
Yeah, and I mean I guess I should preface this by saying I’m not an Asia specialist. But my general impression from talking to those who are is that there are worries, not just among people that are more restraint- or realist-minded, there are worries from people that you might genuinely categorize as China hawks that the debate over particularly Taiwan has become performative and unhelpful. That there are Taiwan bills moving through Congress that say that we should normalize relations with Taipei, recognize them as a country, all of these things that are going to raise the risk of some kind of conflict without actually doing anything to help Taiwan defend itself. And so, I think we are making similar mistakes in Asia to the mistakes that we have made in Europe.
Over the last two decades we expanded NATO, we refused to talk to Russia about its security concerns, and eventually we did get to a point where this came to a conflict. As late as December, we had the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense out in Kyiv and saying things like, Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and right to choose whether it joins NATO—we will defend that absolutely. And when the rubber hit the road, we didn’t.
We armed them, we funded them, but we didn’t actually intervene. And I worry we’re making similar mistakes in Asia—that we are going with the performative “we will support you” stuff and not with the actual practical support that they need.
You’d rather have us sending weapons to Taiwan that would allow it to implement the kind of porcupine strategy you referred to in the event of a Chinese invasion, rather than the focus on provocative symbolism and walking quietly, I suppose would be another way of saying that.
Yeah. Absolutely. And I mean, I think it is more likely to be effective—both more likely to not provoke a Chinese invasion in the first place but also more able to avoid those potential escalation risks. And so, I think we have to be very strategic about these things. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about great powers like Russia or China, we shouldn’t worry about revisionism, that they’re going to become territorial aggrandizers, but we should think about ways to at the very least minimize potential conflict, so that if and when that does happen it’s obvious why it’s happening, and we are better prepared.
As we get towards closing, talk a bit about how you would put us on a better path. You note in your recent essay that realists, in their focus on prudence, have tended to be better at critique than at offering concrete solutions—I think you said a version of that in your essay last year on restraint. So I want to talk a bit about how you think we can get to a better place—but as we do that let’s talk a bit about the blob, which becomes part of this discussion in many contexts. The blob is the pejorative term for the foreign policy establishment—and Foreign Affairs is certainly part of that, so I won’t pretend that we’re fully disinterested. But you talk about the way you see policy making debate unfolds in Washington—what the pressures and incentives that tend to reinforce some of the pathologies or shortcomings that you see have been over this period of time.
I think the pathology that worries me most about U.S. foreign policy is inertia. It’s the fact that foreign policy tends to run on pretty set rails, and I think the best example of this is that even during the Trump administration, even with a president as chaotic and unpredictable and willing to just make completely out-of-left-field decisions on foreign policy, the administration found it hard to shift U.S. foreign policy. We saw the same thing happen under Obama; he really struggled. He wanted to pull the U.S. out of Afghanistan, he wanted to pull out of the Middle East; he really struggled to get that through.
You can talk about bureaucratic politics. You can talk about think tanks and funding. There’s all kinds of reasons. But U.S. foreign policy has an inertia. And I worry that where that leads us is we push too far in some places, like in Ukraine, like in Taiwan. In that sort of situation I think it’s difficult to have conversations about big strategic changes to U.S. foreign policy, because if you have some grand, overarching grand strategy, the odds of you actually being able to implement all of it are very small.
But there are a few areas where I think I would focus, and I would suggest that policymakers think about focusing on over the long term. One is burden sharing, which I think is something the United States needs to focus on a lot more heavily—and this has long been a realist hobby-horse. But I think, of anything the war in Ukraine has shown us, it’s that when the U.S. steps into the breach, European states don’t spend on their own defense. We’ve seen noises about it, but we’ve not seen any great increases in a lot of cases. European states are more than capable of fighting Russia to a standstill if they wanted, that much is obvious. And we have similar problems in a lot of regions. The U.S. is bearing a lot of burden when there are capable partners out there that could do it. So that’s one area where I think you could shift the inertia by just shifting the practicalities of defense.
Just to linger on that, do you think Trump managed to do that in any way?
No, I don’t think he did. As with most of his policies, he was completely schizophrenic. He lectured NATO countries about burden sharing and then offered to send 2000 troops to Poland because the Poles offered to name it Fort Trump. So as always with Trump, I think he made some of the right noises, but he didn’t really make a good effort to actually implement them. The Biden team has been a little better, but even they’re falling into old patterns of reinforcing the transatlantic alliance, pushing to send more equipment to Asia rather than encouraging Asian countries. So I think these patterns, the inertia, really reassert themselves quite frequently.
I do think we need to start thinking about spheres of influence, but in a more practical way. We need to start thinking about, where are the friction points where we’re most likely to see great-power conflict in the future and how can we best put ourselves in a situation where we can avoid conflict over those friction points. And I appreciate that that’s a very difficult argument to have because some people will say that you basically increase deterrence so much, you increase the U.S. presence so much that China is deterred from taking action. But I think it’s much more about thinking through innovative strategies to help states defend themselves, to find ad hoc coalitions that can work together on some of these issues, and I think just less attention to abstract principles and more attention to the practicalities of, these are the friction points, can be helpful.
And then I guess I’ll throw one more point on the table, which may come across as entirely crazy, but I think that the United States has an interest in promoting the rise of multipolarity around the world. We often talk about multipolarity as if it is a bad thing because conflict is somewhat more likely in a multipolar system than it was under bipolarity or unipolarity. But I would argue that this is a way for the United States to build a world in which it’s not always America that has to act when something goes wrong. You are much more likely to be able to build ad hoc balancing coalitions—the U.S. working with India to push back against China in some places, but then maybe working with Australia to suggest that India shouldn’t take other steps. So we are much more likely to be able to form those ad hoc agreements and arrangements that benefit us in a world that is more multipolar. So encouraging Europe to turn its financial capital into military power—again, I think that puts us in a much better place than simply trying to keep America as the top dog until eventually we just can’t anymore.
My impression—and tell me if you think this is off base—is that the debate we’re having about foreign policy in this country has become much more open to these kinds of questions than it was 10 or 15 years ago. And I think some of that is a reaction to some of the failures of the years that preceded that, I think some of it’s a reaction to Trump and some of the ways that he opened debate, but it seems like a healthier ecosystem than perhaps it was earlier in our careers. Are you optimistic about where the state of debate is, or how do you see it?
Even with Ukraine and even with the fact that this is a very difficult-to-resolve policy problem, I am more optimistic about the state of debate. I think the term “blob” is silly and overused, but quite genuinely in the 2000s there was a lot of groupthink among Washington elites. Republican or Democrat didn’t really matter; you espoused pretty much the same ideas even if you got there through different means. And I think that is different now. Both political parties have quite robust contestation on questions of foreign policy—progressives in the Democratic party, these national conservatives or paleoconservatives on the right—and even in the think tank or media space it’s much more common now to read differing points of view than it was before. So I am pretty hopeful, if nothing else because I just think that it’s much healthier to have a marketplace of ideas in which policymakers can say hey, there are options, rather than, this is the only option available to me.
Well Emma, thank you for what you’ve done to help make that a reality both in our pages and elsewhere, and we will look forward to having you back in Foreign Affairs before long.
Thank you for listening. You can find the articles that we discussed on today’s show at ForeignAffairs.com.
“The Foreign Affairs Interview” is produced by Kate Brannen, Julia Fleming-Dresser, and Markus Zakaria. Special thanks also to Grace Finlayson, Caitlin Joseph, Nora Revenaugh, Asher Ross, and Gabrielle Sierra. Our theme music was written and performed by Robin Hilton.
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Foreign Affairs invites you to join its editor, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, as he talks to influential thinkers and policymakers about the forces shaping the world. Whether the topic is the war in Ukraine, the United States’ competition with China, or the future of globalization, Foreign Affairs' biweekly podcast offers the kind of authoritative commentary and analysis that you can find in the magazine and on the website.
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