In This Review

America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition
America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition
By Ali Wyne
Polity, 2022, 224 pp.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s threats over the future of Taiwan underline the increasingly widespread view that U.S. foreign policy must return to the familiar realm of great-power competition. The “opportunity” in Wyne’s somewhat misleading title is the opportunity not to accept that paradigm. Great-power competition, he points out, is a phenomenon, not a framework: a description rather than a useful blueprint for policy. It dictates a posture that is inherently reactive, which would “cede the strategic initiative” to China and Russia and lure the United States into geopolitical detours tangential to its true national interests. Instead, the United States should build an “affirmative vision” based on its various competitive advantages (including its geography, ability to attract immigrants, strong currency, and numerous allies) that recognizes how much the world has changed in recent decades through globalization and the emergence of transnational threats that demand urgent collaboration. Wyne does not attempt to describe in any detail what such a policy might look like. But he makes a timely and compelling case that the United States should resist the temptation of simply reacting to the agendas and actions of other powers and instead pursue the more demanding but rewarding route of setting an independent course.