The False Promise of Liberal Order
Nostalgia, Delusion and the Rise of Trump
In an age of demagogues, hostile great powers and trade wars, foreign policy traditionalists dream of restoring liberal international order. This order, they claim, ushered in seventy years of peace and prosperity and saw post-war America domesticate the world to its values.
This book exposes the flaws in this nostalgic vision of liberal order. The world America made was wrought through coercion and, sometimes brutal, compromise. Liberal projects - to spread capitalist democracy - led inadvertently to illiberal results. To make peace, the US made bargains with authoritarian forces. As its power grew, Washington came to believe that its order was exceptional and even permanent – a mentality that has led to spiraling deficits, permanent war, and Trump. Romanticizing the liberal order makes it harder to adjust to today’s global disorder. Only by confronting the false promise of liberal order and adapting to current realities can the United States survive as a constitutional republic in a plural world.