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22. The American liberal order: from creation to crisis  

G. John Ikenberry

This chapter examines the rise and evolution of the liberal order that was created by the United States and and other liberal democratic states in the decades after World War II, along with the modern challenges to it. The liberal order that emerged after World War II paved the way for a rapid expansion in world trade, the successful integration of former enemies such as Japan and Germany, and the transition to liberal democracy in formerly authoritarian states. Furthermore, the collapse of communism was considered a triumph of liberalism. The chapter first explains how the American liberal order was constructed after World War II before discussing the successes of that order and the end of the ‘socialist’ project in the 1980s. It also analyzes some of the major threats to this liberal order today, particularly those from within, as a result of Donald Trump’s rejection of the American liberal tradition.

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5. America in the 1990s: searching for purpose  

John Dumbrell

This chapter examines U.S. foreign policy debates and policy management under the direction of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It first provides an overview of post-Cold War American internationalism before discussing the so-called ‘Kennan sweepstakes’: a conscious effort to find a post-Soviet statement of purpose to rival George Kennan’s early Cold War concept of ‘containment’ of communism. It then considers U.S. foreign policy making in the new order and in the post-Cold War era. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations wrestled with the problem of deciding on a clear, publicly defensible, strategy for U.S. foreign policy in the new era. Clinton’s first term was dominated by free trade agendas and by efforts to operationalize the policy of ‘selective engagement’, while his second term involved a noticeable turn towards unilateralism and remilitarization. The New World Order was Bush’s main contribution to thinking beyond the Cold War.

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24. The future of US foreign policy  

Anatol Lieven

This chapter considers future prospects for US foreign policy on the basis of long-established patterns and other factors such as the interests and ideology of elites, the structures of political life, the country’s real or perceived national interests, and the increasingly troubled domestic scene. It first examines the ideological roots of US foreign policy before discussing some of the major contemporary challenges for US foreign policy, including relations with China, US military power, and the US political order. It then describes the basic contours of US foreign policy over the next generation with respect to the Middle East, the Far East, Russia, Europe and the transatlantic relationship, climate change, and international trade. It also presents catastrophic scenarios for American foreign policy and argues that there will no fundamental change in US global strategy whichever of the two dominant political parties is in power.