The Role of American Power: Asking the Experts

On its fifth anniversary, 25 years ago, The National Interest asked contributors to answer the question “What should be the purpose of American power?” This year, for the magazine’s 30th anniversary, they are once again seeking to find the answer to that question, this time asking 25 foreign policy experts. The series of articles ran from August 19 until today, with between 3 and 5 contributors publishing their articles daily.

This project comes at a time of fierce debate over American foreign policy. With big names such as John Mearsheimer and Senator Tom Cotton, the series of short pieces makes compelling and insightful points. Mearsheimer argues “the purpose of American power is to keep the United States safe so its people can prosper economically and live in relative freedom. There is little agreement, however, on how to achieve that goal.” As shown by many of the other contributions, even this purpose is up for wide debate with others arguing that American power should be used to advance American interests.

Such answers are thought-provoking in today’s changing world. America’s foreign policy challenges when this project was first conducted 25 years ago are far different from the challenges of today. On the one hand, markets are far more open, democracy is more prevalent globally, and human dignity is better respected in most of the world. On the other hand, we see Islamic extremism growing in the Middle East, and once widespread hopes that Russia would become a fully liberalized democratic state have all but vanished. How we see ourselves in the world may need to change entirely.

Read National Interest’s article series here.

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