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Review Essay

More, Less, or Different?

Where U.S. Foreign Policy Should—and Shouldn’t—Go From Here

In This Review

The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy
The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy
By Stephen M. Walt
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018, 400 pp. Purchase
The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities
The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities
By John J. Mearsheimer
Yale University Press, 2018, 328 pp. Purchase

Since November 2016, the U.S. foreign policy community has embarked on an extended voyage of soul-searching, filling the pages of publications like this one with essays on the past, present, and future of the liberal international order and the related question of where U.S. grand strategy goes from here. The prevailing sentiment is not for just more of the same. Big questions are up for debate in ways they have not been for many years. What is the purpose of U.S. foreign policy? Are there fundamental changes in the world that demand a corresponding change in approach?

Into this earnest and reflective conversation enter Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, each with a new book, each making his long-standing argument about the failures of U.S. foreign policy with renewed ferocity. Walt’s is called The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of

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