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Three Choices for America’s Role in the World


15 min read
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What's inside?

In foreign affairs, America must choose a new way forward.

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  • Analytical
  • Visionary
  • Background


US taxpayers have grown weary of messy, expensive wars, so which foreign policy course should the world’s one superpower take? Political consultant, author and lecturer Ian Bremmer offers a thoughtful look at the possibilities. After laying out his view of the new geopolitical landscape, he proposes three scenarios. The first is for the United States to pull back from foreign entanglements and refocus on domestic issues. The second, “Moneyball America,” calls for a practical, flexible approach to foreign policy. The third positions the US as global policeman. getAbstract – while always politically neutral – recommends Bremmer’s analysis to international businesspeople, NGOs, political scientists, investors, and readers seeking a cogent description of US international relations and their implications.


A Confused Superpower

Will America, after debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, retreat into isolationism? Will it continue as the world’s policeman, no matter the cost? Or will it pursue a middle ground and wage war only after careful calculation? The answer is unclear. In 2015, the US moved away from “incoherent America,” after a 25-year period that left citizens confused about how to respond to geopolitical turmoil.

The US became a superpower by balancing isolation and intervention. Disputes overseas became a US concern only when the conflicts grew too large to ignore. In World Wars I and II, American leaders waited to act. As a result, the US preserved precious financial and human resources while the powers of Europe exhausted money and lost millions of lives. In World War I, America lost 116,000 troops, compared to more than one million each for Germany, Russia, France and Austria-Hungary. The trend held in World War II. Some 418,000 US soldiers died, compared to 20 million Soviets, seven million Germans and three million Japanese. By sacrificing to create peace and prosperity, though losing comparatively fewer resources, the United States emerged in 1945...

About the Author

Ian Bremmer is president and founder of Eurasia Group, a consulting firm. The author of nine books, including The End of the Free Market, he’s a columnist for Time magazine.

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