Liberal internationalists (from all over the American political spectrum) have responded with horror to President Trump’s broadsides against the very idea of alliances and international cooperation. But the president’s questioning of the principles of the United Nations and NATO have raised doubts within the internationalist foreign policy elite. How effective are international institutions, agreements and alliances? Was there really a golden age—an international liberal order—that lasted from the end of World War II until the inauguration of Trump, during which generous American stewardship produced prosperity and stability?

Participants include:

  • Paul Staniland, political scientist, University of Chicago
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation

Paul Staniland has joined the debate with a forceful essay in the Lawfare blog entitled “Misreading the ‘Liberal Order’: Why We Need New Thinking in American Foreign Policy.” He argues that an international liberal order did exist, although it wasn’t as rosy as some of its staunchest defenders proclaim—nor is President Trump solely responsible for the erosion of the postwar international order. A better understanding of the ambiguous record of internationalism since 1945 is required if the United States is to design a more effective foreign policy in years to come. Paul Staniland discusses the debate about the international liberal order and its implications for crafting an improved order to succeed it.