New book takes controversial stand favoring US global engagement

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Two visiting authors dived into America’s shift toward a globalist foreign policy, taking a controversial stand in favor of maintaining the country’s role on the world stage at a talk Wednesday.

The authors, Dartmouth College government professors, discussed their book “America Abroad: The United States Global Role in the 21st Century,” which attempts to answer two questions. The first is whether America’s power position enables it to be globally engaged, while the second question is whether the U.S. should pursue deep engagement if it has the capabilities.

Co-author William Wohlforth argued the United States has the means to pursue global engagement, because it is significantly more advanced in military capabilities than China, the current rising state. 

“The gap in time between a decision by a country to create a superpower capability and the realization of that position needs to be measured in decades, not years,” Wohlforth said. “The U.S. has a choice — it has the capacity, if it wishes, to pursue a strategy of deep engagement for decades ahead.” 

Co-author Stephen Brooks then examined the implications for such an active foreign policy, favoring a globalist stance that he argued would foster economic relations and secure U.S. interests.

“This strategy will allow us to foster the global economy to make us more prosperous and get more cooperation to solve problems we can’t solve on our own,” Brooks said. “When you bring those things in, the argument in favor of continuing deep engagement becomes far stronger than if you leave those points out.”

The Clements Center for National Security hosted the talk. Center Associate Director Paul Miller said he believes the book distinguishes itself by providing a succinct argument in favor of deep engagement despite an academic narrative in support of retrenchment or having the U.S. diminish its global presence.

“I think this is realism done right,” Miller said. “Our guests are academic realists, and I admire the intellectual consistency and honesty that they have shown in coming to such conclusions.”

Biology senior Annie Nguyen emphasized the need for discourse on America’s global strategy and said she fears the implications of taking a backseat in discussing foreign affairs. 

“Because public opinion is starting to perceptibly shape our foreign policy, conversations like these are important to have,” Nguyen said. “Yes, it’s uncomfortable and often avoided, but the surefire way to lose our status as a global power is to not engage in healthy dialogue on these issues.”