Since the late 1940s, in the wake of World War II, the centerpiece of U.S. grand strategy has been to build and lead an international order composed of security alliances, international institutions, and economic openness, to advance the causes of freedom, prosperity, and peace. In 2016, for the first time, the American people elected a president who was highly critical of this international order and its constituent parts. This did not come out of the blue. Anxieties about globalization and America’s role in the world have been brewing for some time. Americans now face a consequential choice—to continue to lead and shape the postwar order or to leave it behind.
World politics took a sharp turn for the worse over the past five years as two decades of great power cooperation gave way to a new era of geopolitical competition. To succeed in the coming decades, the United States needs a strategy that begins with the setting of a clear goal: the renovation and reinvigoration of the postwar international order. We believe that President Donald Trump should take a leaf from President Harry Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who argued that the United States should build “situations of strength” around the world with like-minded nations and work with them to tackle the threats and challenges to U.S.interests.