Policy Roundtable 1-6: Is Liberal Internationalism Still Alive?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.[1]

H-Diplo | ISSF POLICY Roundtable 1-6 (2017): Is Liberal Internationalism Still Alive?

Published on 14 March 2017 | issforum.org

H-Diplo/ISSF Editors:  Robert Jervis and Diane Labrosse
H-Diplo/ISSF Web and Production Editor:  George Fujii

Shortlink:  tiny.cc/PR-1-6
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PDF URL:  http://issforum.org/ISSF/PDF/Policy-Roundtable-1-6.pdf


Introduction by Robert Jervis, Columbia University

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.[1]

Perhaps it is over-dramatic to invoke Yeats’s “The Second Coming,” but for many scholars, commentators, and citizens it feels appropriate. In 2011 ISSF published a Forum on “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?”,[2] building on a 2007 article by Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz, with responses by Stephen Chaudoin, Helen Milner, and Dustin Tingley, Brian Rathbun, and by Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten.[3] The first authors were pessimistic about the future of liberal internationalism (LI), Chaudoin and his co-authors were more optimistic, and Busby and Monten took a position in the middle.

The debate was never settled, of course, but it is even more relevant today with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of right-wing populist movements in Europe. This has occasioned us to re-visit the topic, and in addition to the writers for the initial forum we have a contribution by Robert Shapiro, whose work was noted in the original contributions. Spoiler alert–authors continue to disagree, but with more data and arguments that build on what they and others said before.

Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley’s conclusion is summarized in their subtitle: “LI–Down But Not Out.” Domestic and international support for an active American foreign policy that supports democracy, human rights, and a relatively open world economy continues to be strong. Trump’s rhetoric and the vocal views of many of his supporters notwithstanding, dominant American interests still favor LI and the economic and political benefits of it are still seen as very great. Few believers in liberalism and no proponents of realism see American interests as aligned with a drastic withdrawal from the world. Alliances, even if the U.S. continues to pay a disproportionate share (as we would expect from the theory of collective goods), greatly strengthen the U.S., and lower barriers to the flow of goods and capital, although creating losers as well as winners within the U.S., greatly enrich the country as well as supporting political and economic systems in other countries that help align their interests with America’s. Even if some versions of realism would argue that supporting democracy and human rights is irrelevant to the national interest, American values for doing so remain deeply-rooted. Furthermore, international constraints reinforce domestic ones, and allies and trading partners have obvious means by which to retaliate if the U.S. abandons LI. So even if Trump does not change his ideas, he will not be able to implement drastic changes in the face of these forces.

Busby and Monten, on the other hand, see a continued erosion of domestic support for LI. Although elites are more internationalist than the general public, Trump’s election and the strong support for Senator Bernie Sanders shows that although issues of foreign policy are not of great salience to the public, these issues have become more politicized and the strong bipartisan consensus has now eroded.

Brian Rathburn sees two forces pulling in opposite directions. On the one hand, Trump’s own views strongly reject LI, as he sees the world in much more zero-sum terms and his transactional approach bodes ill, for LI. Robert Keohane’s defuse reciprocity is not for him.[4] On the other hand, Trump’s own position is incoherent, having some elements that appeal to much of his base and segments of the Republican party, such as getting “better” trade deals, while other elements, including significant restrictions on imports and the desire to come to a political understanding with Russia, are strongly at odds with these groups. So Trump will find it extraordinarily difficult to build and maintain the sort of domestic coalition that is necessary for sustaining his preferred policies.

Robert Shapiro analyzes the increase in partisan conflict over foreign policy. The mass public has polarized to an unusual degree, although not as much as the party elites. Furthermore, the latter sometimes underestimate the support for LI among their followers. It is hard to separate top-down from bottom-up influences here. To some extent, partisans seem to be adopting views that they think correspond to those of the party leaders, and when one party or the other becomes associated with a policy, public opinion can change accordingly. Thus one reason why both Democrats and Republicans have become less likely to view the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as having been worth the costs is that the former continue to associate them with President George W. Bush and the latter have come to see them as the responsibility of President Barack Obama. LI may not be dead, but if it is to be sustained it will have to survive in a deeply partisan atmosphere.

The diverse contributions show that even if scholars cannot agree, they can draw on data and theories to illuminate issues that are of central concern to not only our understanding of the world, but to pressing issues of contemporary politics and policy.


Robert Jervis is Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University.  His most recent book is How Statesmen Think (Princeton University Press, 2017). He was President of the American Political Science Association in 2000-2001 and has received career achievement awards from the International Society of Political Psychology, ISA’s Security Studies Section, and APSA’s Foreign Policy Section, and he has received honorary degrees from the University of Venice and Oberlin College.  In 2006, he received the National Academy of Science’s tri-annual award for behavioral sciences contributions to avoiding nuclear war.

Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is a Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law and a non-resident fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Dr. Busby has written extensively on the relationship between elite and public opinion in U.S. foreign policy in Perspectives on Politics, Political Science Quarterly, and for outlets such as the Council on Foreign Relations, RealClearWorld, and The Monkey Cage. His first book, Moral Movements and Foreign Policy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. His second book AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations with Ethan Kapstein was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013 and won the 2014 Don K. Price Award (the APSA award for the best book on science, technology, and environmental politics). He received his Ph.D. in Political Science in 2004 from Georgetown University.

Stephen Chaudoin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a Ph.D. from the Princeton University Department of Politics in 2012 and a BA in Economics from Emory University in 2006. His research focuses on international institutions, international political economy, and formal and quantitative methodology. His most recent research has been published or is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, International Organization, and the British Journal of Political Science, as well as other outlets.

Helen Milner is B.C. Forbes Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and Director of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. She has written extensively on issues related to international and comparative political economy, the connections between domestic politics and foreign policy, globalization and regionalism, and the relationship between democracy and trade policy. Her book, Sailing the Water’s Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy, with Dustin Tingley, was published in fall by Princeton University Press, and was awarded the APSA Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book published in the field of U.S. national policy.

Jonathan Monten is Lecturer in International Relations and Director of the International Public Policy Program at the School of Public Policy at the University College of London.

Brian Rathbun is a Professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. He is the author of three books [Partisan Interventions (Cornell University Press, 2004), Trust in International Cooperation (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Diplomacy’s Value (Cornell University Press, 2014)] as well as articles in leading disciplinary journals. He has recently completed a manuscript on rational thinking (and the lack thereof) in international relations.

Robert Y. Shapiro is the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government and Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His research has focused on the interplay of public opinion, policymaking, political leadership and the mass media in the United States.

Dustin Tingley is Professor of Government in the Government Department at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton in 2010 and BA from the University of Rochester in 2001. His research interests include international relations, international political economy, and statistical methodology. His book on American foreign policy, Sailing the Water’s Edge, with Helen V. Milner, was published in Fall 2015 by Princeton University Press, and was awarded the APSA Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book published in the field of U.S. national policy.


Essay by Joshua Busby, University of Texas-Austin, and Jonathan Monten, University College London

“Has Liberal Internationalism Been Trumped?”

1945-November 8, 2016. The election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency may mean that liberal internationalism, already on life support, finally met its maker. The liberal order had a good run.

Nearly a decade ago, drawing on the work of Eugene Wittkopf, we argued that the animating ideas of liberal internationalism included a mix of cooperative tools (such as support for foreign aid and free trade) and coercive instruments (such as defense spending and the willingness to use force).[5] After examining party platforms, key congressional votes, and state of the union addresses, we concluded that these ideas still had rhetorical power, but that increasing partisan polarization led Republicans to increasingly support only coercive tools while Democrats primarily embraced cooperative ones.[6] When comparing changes in the attitudes of the U.S. public and U.S. foreign policy leaders over the period 1982-2004, we found that foreign policy leaders were more internationalist than the mass public on both dimensions of internationalism, although elements of internationalism still resonated with the mass public (such as cooperation with allies) in part because of concerns about burden-sharing.[7] We concluded that although the consensus underpinning liberal internationalism had been eroded by partisan polarization and other forces, its central ideas still attracted support among a majority of U.S. citizens and leaders.[8]

Donald Trump’s election throws a number of those core animating principles and commitments into doubt. His statements doubting the virtues of NATO, his opposition to free trade, and his embrace of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian Russia all constitute fundamental challenges to the Western liberal order.[9] More broadly, Trump appears to favor a transactional approach to foreign policy, suggesting that he will seek the best ‘deals’ without regard to long-standing U.S. economic and security commitments. The threat Trump poses to the global liberal order is worsened by the fact that the United States is not an isolated case. Confidence in liberal democracy and the wider order is under strain around the world, reflected in the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the drift to authoritarianism in countries like Turkey and the Philippines, and the growing electoral strength of right-wing nationalist parties throughout Europe.[10]

In light of Donald Trump’s victory, what can we say about support for liberal internationalism in the United States?

We argue that the results of the 2016 election underscore the extent to which American support for the liberal order can be understood as an elite pact between the two political parties.[11] Over the past several decades, U.S. elites contained their disagreements so that a few core foreign policy commitments – such as support for NATO and the benefits of a liberal trading order – were never fundamentally questioned. Although there were partisan disagreements in the past, the strength of the dominant narrative of U.S. foreign policy limited the range of acceptable policies elites could defend.[12] Even if the notion of politics stopping at the water’s edge was overwrought,[13] the contours and boundaries of the liberal order were sustained by elites from both political parties. That order endured despite the failure in Vietnam and even held together in frayed fashion after the end of the Cold War diminished the exigency of its origins.

The Trump era threatens to politicize core terrain of the liberal order, namely (1) the relevance of alliances like NATO and with countries like South Korea and Japan, (2) democracy as the most desirable system of governance that supports human freedom and U.S. interests, and (3) the importance of fostering a more open global economy.

Our contribution to this forum is organized as follows. First, we review the survey evidence on support for liberal internationalism among the U.S. public and foreign policy leaders. Second, we explore whether foreign policy mattered in the 2016 election. Third, we outline the risks Trump poses to this consensus, focusing in particular on whether the “elite pact” underpinning  liberal internationalism can survive an era of Trump-fueled hyper-partisanship. Finally, we conclude with some ideas for future research.

Liberal Internationalism and Public Opinion: A Review of the Evidence

Since 2011, we have carried out four sets of surveys with U.S. foreign policy leaders. For two of those surveys, we partnered with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2014 and 2016 to field similar surveys with the U.S. public and a cross-section of U.S. foreign policy opinion leaders drawn from a range of international-oriented professional sectors. Four key empirical findings emerge from this survey evidence.

First, as recently as 2016, public opinion polls continue to show relatively robust support for elements of liberal internationalism, including a willingness for America to play an active role in the world, support for multilateral institutions like NATO, and support for globalization. In the 2016 Chicago Council survey, 64% of the public favored playing an active role in global affairs, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Super-majorities favored keeping or even increasing the country’s commitment to NATO. Majorities of all partisan attachments even said globalization was mostly good for the United States.[14]

Second, surveys of U.S. foreign policy leaders consistently show that elites are more internationalist than the mass public. In a 2012 survey of approximately 50 Democratic and 50 Republican elites who had served in the executive branch, we found that “First, strong majorities of both Republican and Democratic respondents said they believed that working closely with other nations serves U.S. interests and makes the country’s foreign policy more effective. Second, foreign policy leaders from both parties agreed that international economic institutions and free trade agreements are valuable, and that working with regional and global multilateral organizations such as NATO and the UN is important.” [15]

However, we also found key differences between partisans on their approach to multilateralism. Republicans were more focused on preserving U.S. sovereignty whereas Democrats were more concerned about enlisting others to help solve problems wrought by interdependence (see Figure 1).[16]

Figure 1: Partisan Differences Among Leaders on Multilateralism

Source: The Authors

In 2013, we examined the results of a follow-up survey of nearly 90 Congressional staff. While there were partisan differences on issue like climate change, many of the traditional elements of the liberal order retained bipartisan support: “Somewhat to our surprise, we found a reservoir of bipartisan support for a number of international organizations, alliances, and treaties—such as NATO, the World Bank, the WTO, and the IMF—as well as for the importance of multilateral action on issues such as nonproliferation and international trade.”[17]

In 2014, to accompany a public survey, we carried out a survey of nearly 700 foreign policy leaders from diverse professional groups with the Chicago Council, helping to revive their leader surveys that had been dormant since 2004.[18] Despite the great recession, the survey yielded robust support among the public and elites for globalization and new trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the public was less enthusiastic than elites of international engagement, a majority of the public–58%–still wanted to play an active role in the world. NATO also retained the support of elites and publics of both parties. On questions such as support for key U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea, the American public was more lukewarm than elites.[19]

On other issues like the United Nations, the Republican public was actually more supportive than Republican leaders (see Figure 2 below). The same pattern was observed for several multilateral treaties such as small arms, disabilities, the law of the sea, and climate. Gaps were smallest on issues like the United Nations (UN) and climate change, where Republican elites have converged in opposition. This suggests the default position of most Americans is to support most initiatives to solve problems with international partners, barring partisan politicization.

Figure 2: Making Decisions within the UN

Figure 2

Source: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs[20]

A third empirical finding is that although U.S. foreign policy elites are more internationalist than the U.S. public, elites underestimate the level of public support for international engagement, globalization, and immigration. In a 2016 Chicago Council survey, we again repeated the leader surveys alongside a public survey.[21]  For a few questions, we asked leaders not only to provide their views, but to assess what they thought public attitudes were as well.

Here, the results were striking.[22] The 2016 leader survey found overwhelming support among leaders for the U.S. to play an active role in the world, a view shared by more than 90% of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. The public survey found that 64% of the public said the United States should play an active role in world affairs, a view shared by a majority across party lines, including 70% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 57% of independents. Interestingly, only half of people who supported Donald Trump in the Republican primary supported this view. However, when we asked leaders their view of public opinion, they substantially underestimated public support (see Figure 3).


Figure 3: Leaders’ Perception of Public Opinion – Active Role

Figure 3

Source: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs[23]

We observed similar results for globalization. More than 80% of Democrats, Republicans, and independent leaders all said that globalization was mostly good for the United States. While lower, 65% of the American public shared this view, including 74 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans, and 61 percent of independents. Only 49% of Trump primary voters held this view.

Again, leaders’ views of the public were wide of the mark. Only 29% of leaders thought the public response would be positive. Republican leaders were the least likely to gauge public opinion accurately (see Figure 4). We find similar results for attitudes on immigration, where the public was more supportive of more open immigration policies than leaders expected.

Figure 4: Leaders’ Perception of Public Opinion–Globalization[24]

Figure 4

One puzzle raised by these results is how to reconcile survey evidence that the U.S. public remains broadly supportive of components of liberal internationalism with an election in which the more nationalist and protectionist candidate won the White House. On some level, an obvious answer is that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, suggesting that these survey results are accurately capturing the views of the American public.

A fourth empirical finding suggests a possible alternative explanation – public opinion polls may overstate the strength of public attitudes on foreign policy, both in terms of issue salience and the stability of the public’s foreign policy views. While the public may express support for liberal internationalism, these surveys provide little information about the salience or importance of foreign policy relative to other issue areas. Outside of crisis moments, foreign policy concerns are not usually the most important issues that voters care or seek information about.[25]

For example, in the 2016 Chicago Council survey, 60% of the public supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including 58% of Republicans, 70% of Democrats, and 52% of independents. However, a September 2016 survey from Politico and Harvard found that 70% of the public hadn’t heard or read anything about the TPP, and among the 29% who had, attitudes were mostly negative.[26]

As a result, there may be a number of foreign policy issues where the wider public holds moderate but weak opinions, while a politically active minority holds stronger and more extreme opinions. On so-called ‘intermestic’ issues like trade and immigration, those who care most passionately may hold more extreme views, may be more politically engaged, and may be the most visible. If leaders’ assessment of public opinion was based on the loud, extreme views of a passionate minority, this might help explain why they believed the public was much less enthusiastic about globalization, immigration, and international engagement than surveys actually show.[27]

In addition, because it is a low salience issue where citizens may be weakly informed, public foreign policy views may be unstable, and in particular highly sensitive to partisan cueing or framing effects. As Alexandra Guisinger and Elizabeth Saunders have recently found, whether informational or partisan effects dominate depends on the degree of polarization. Where elites are united on foreign policy goals, publics can be persuaded, but where they are divided on issues like climate change, the public tends to rally around the positions of partisans.[28]

For example, the recent swing in Republican attitudes towards Vladimir Putin demonstrates that public views can potentially shift quickly with changes in partisan framing.[29] The Republican Party was the bedrock of hardcore anti-communism, yet is now increasingly warming to Putin, the former head of the KGB, with more than a 50 point swing in six months according to polls from YouGov/Economist (see Figure 5). At the same time, Democratic views towards Russia hardened.[30]

This dynamic has also occurred on other issues such as climate change and trade. In a 2016 Politico-Harvard poll, 47% of Republicans said that trade agreements had hurt their families compared to 24% of Democrats. That’s a reversal from ten years ago when a Pew poll found Democrats much less supportive of trade agreements than Republicans. In a 2006 Pew poll, 41% of Democrats said trade agreements had hurt their families compared to only 27% of Republicans.[31]

Figure 5: U.S. Public Attitudes of Vladimir Putin

Figure 5

Source: William Jordan, using YouGov/Economist data[32]

One trend that may be magnifying the effect of partisan cueing on public attitudes is the decline in the public’s trust in elites, experts, and institutions.[33] Because many in the public perceive conventional elites of both parties to have failed on both the international and domestic fronts, the public may be more vulnerable to alternative elites, even singular individuals. Arguably, President Barack Obama benefited from this dynamic as a relative unknown who quickly rose, leapt to the U.S. Senate, and toppled a preferred party standard-bearer in then-Senator Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic Party nominee. The same is true of Donald Trump, who won the Electoral College and the Presidency, despite having no government experience.

Did Foreign Policy Matter in the 2016 Election?

In the period preceding the 2016 election, international events – including the terrorist attacks in France, San Bernadino, Orlando, and Belgium, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. election – served to remind the public of global dangers.  Both candidates sought to capitalize on these events for their own benefit. Trump sought to persuade voters he would be a stronger leader on issues such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while Clinton emphasized her opponent’s inexperience and unsteadiness to be commander in chief. Did foreign policy actually play a decisive role in the 2016 election? Did voters who prioritized foreign policy break decisively for either candidate?

Preliminary polling data on this question is mixed. Foreign and security issues appear to have been a more important concern for voters in 2016 relative to the last two presidential election cycles. According to exit polls reported by CNN, 52% of voters said the economy was the most important issue, 18% chose “terrorism,” and 13% chose foreign policy.[34] By comparison, only 5% cited foreign policy as the most important issue in exit polls in 2012. [35] In 2008, 19% of voters cited the combination of “the war in Iraq” and “terrorism,”[36] and 34% chose the same combination in 2004.[37] Thus, the combined total in 2016 of 33% is comparable to the high water mark of the 2004 election, which was the first presidential election after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.

However, exit poll data also suggests those who said “terrorism” was their main concern broke for Trump, while those who said “foreign policy” was their top issue voted overwhelmingly for Clinton (see Figure 6). This suggests the impact of this resurgent concern for foreign policy in 2016 was mixed.[38] More sophisticated analysis might be able to tease out whether one candidate was advantaged over another, although, given the Electoral College, the state-level results necessary to carry out this analysis may not be readily available.

Figure 6: Top Issues in the 2016 Election Exit Polls

Figure 6Source: CNN

Liberal Internationalism in the Trump Era

We think the combination of foreign policy opinion trends described above – low salience, a public that is weakly informed about foreign policy issues, rising partisan polarization, and rising extremist voices around issues such as trade and immigration – does not bode well for the health of liberal internationalism. A number of prominent public opinion scholars argue that the mass public largely responds to cues from leaders, some emphasizing that this should be particularly true for foreign policy issues.[39] While the foundations of liberal internationalism were buttressed by public support, an important mechanism sustaining the liberal internationalist consensus may have been the bounded nature of elite opinion. Partisan disagreements on core issues like NATO and trade were largely contained by elites, even as conflicts like Vietnam and Iraq were extremely divisive.

The speed with which partisan divides on important questions such as Russia and globalization have emerged over the past year suggests that this elite pact may finally be breaking down. As Thomas Wright argues, Trump has distinct views that are at odds with the foundations of the liberal order, most notably on alliances, trade, and the virtues of liberal democracy itself.[40] While he may face pushback from elite members of his own party, partisanship is a powerful force, and the Republican public may continue to rally around Trump’s world view, reinforcing the global resurgence of populist nationalism where zero-sum logics, mercantilism, and zealous regard for sovereignty and spheres of prevail. By politicizing foreign policy terrain that had previously been outside the bounds of partisan competition, Trump risks undercutting the foundation of the liberal internationalist compact in the United States, even if he does not act on his most extreme foreign policy statements.[41]

Concluding Thoughts

The unexpected election of Donald Trump raises a number of research questions about the relationship between the foreign policy attitudes of the U.S. public and U.S. foreign policy elites. One set of questions relates to our understanding of partisan and elite cues. A large portion of the Republican foreign policy establishment was opposed to Trump, who committed a number of Republican foreign policy heresies such as praising Vladimir Putin and criticizing the war in Iraq. And yet, Trump succeeded in shifting the Republican base in his direction. Why are certain types of foreign policy elite cues more effective than others? Are there limits to the effects of elite cues, both informational and partisan? To what extent can large policy failures like Iraq or the 2008 financial crisis create ideational change among the public that is resistant to or independent from elite attitudes?

A second set of questions relates to public opinion and liberal internationalism. We have imperfect measures of public support for liberal internationalism and an inadequate understanding of the extent to which public attitudes are or were important for its durability. If foreign policy is weakly salient, what does this say about the public underpinnings of liberal internationalism?

Recent survey evidence has given us a better picture of the relationship between public and elite foreign policy opinion and the potential malleability of public opinion. That said, we still have much more to learn. In the meantime, the Trump administration looks to provide a massive stress test for the durability of the international order and may yet remake the landscape of public opinion in ways unforeseen.


Essay by Stephen Chaudoin, University of Illinois, Helen V. Milner, Princeton University, Dustin Tingley, Harvard University


An ongoing debate among prominent scholars of international relations concerns the future direction of American foreign policy. In particular, scholars, pundits, and commentators wonder whether the United States will continue to pursue a liberal internationalist stance.  At its core, liberal internationalism entails international engagement, not isolationism. And despite the ‘liberal’ terminology, it is not a policy skewed towards Democrats and political liberals and away from Republicans and political conservatives. Instead the liberal component of internationalism embodies many bi-partisan principles: support for freedom, democracy, human rights, a free press, as well as an open world economy for the movement of goods, services, people, and ideas.  Not surprisingly, an amazing amount of ink has been spilled on what the election of Donald Trump as President means for the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy and a possible break from liberal internationalism.

In this article we argue that the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress will find it in its own interests to maintain many existing elements of U.S. foreign policy—which will continue to have substantial liberal internationalist components. In part, this is because liberal internationalism still advances America’s vital national interests. The many allies the country has help it coordinate its defense and security and, for a price, make America more powerful; they help extend American influence and assist in the fight against global problems like terrorism. The trade and investment agreements the United States has negotiated and its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments help ensure a fairer and more open world economy in which the American economy can prosper. The international institutions the U.S. created after World War II, such as the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, still enable it to influence—though not determine—the structure of all international economic and political relations. Exiting or ending these agreements will not enhance U.S. power or security; renegotiating them may give the U.S. a bit more leverage in the short run, but in the longer run may also destroy any good will the country possesses. Moreover, disengaging from the world will only leave it more susceptible to the influence of other powerful countries that might not have America’s interests at heart, like China or Russia.

Some scholars have argued that liberal internationalism is no longer in the United States’ national interest[42] and that the government should pull back from its foreign commitments, abandoning its allies and treaties, and even pursue a policy of economic nationalism. While these policies may appear cheaper in the short run, it is not clear they will provide more security, prosperity, or peace in the medium to long run. One can imagine a world of spheres of influence where Russia and China dominate much of the world, leaving the U.S. with few friends or markets.

The many problems the Trump administration seeks to remedy are least of all caused by global forces and most of all self-inflicted by domestic politics. The financial crisis had few international sources; inequality is deeply related to tax and fiscal policy in the U.S. and also technological change; the Iraq war was one of choice. Changing America’s international relations is unlikely to fix any of these problems, and most likely to make dealing with our interdependent world even more costly. America’s allies and its multilateral engagements help it project its influence and make the country more secure and prosperous.

The crux of our argument is about two sets of constraints on Trump’s foreign policy actions.

First, domestic politics and the institutions that shape American foreign policy will be powerful constraints on Trump’s ability to depart completely from a liberal internationalist foreign policy. The individuals that have influence over American foreign policy have a wide array of heterogeneous policy preferences, and they inhabit institutional positions that give them powerful tools to resist radical changes. No matter the energy of the President and his policy team, politics in the American democracy, with its many checks and balances, is hard and time consuming, and policy directions that are deeply ingrained are difficult to change.

Second, structural factors of the international system will continue to position the United States as most likely to benefit from liberal internationalist policies. The U.S. occupies a favored position in many international institutions, which already allow it to enjoy favorable policies. Abandoning these institutions will be costly and painful for the United States—for its public, its economy and firms, its military, and its political elites. The loss of a leadership position in world affairs will not be costless, and the loss of legitimacy abroad will have consequences that make achieving American goals harder. Moreover, countries can retaliate if the U.S. adopts extreme policies that hurt them. The importance of international pressures has been evident many times before and after the end of the Cold War.

We note at the outset that we are intentionally optimistic in this article, much more so than many of our colleagues. On those optimistic about American foreign policy in the wake of Trump’s election, Philip Stephens recently quipped that “there are precious few of them around these days.”[43] We simultaneously recognize that Donald Trump, as President of the United States of America, along with the millions of Americans that voted for him, desires change. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. So we would urge Executive Branch and all policymakers to recognize the tremendous opportunities available to President Trump (that is, not candidate Trump) and to continue the ongoing process of engagement that continues to make America great.

Our intentional optimism might turn out to be misplaced. Many of our arguments and predictions were penned in late December/early January of 2016-2017. We nevertheless stand by them. We lay out a set of arguments that we hope provide positive reasons for following a path forward that recognizes America’s important role in the world. Our country has a mandate, not just for making America great. But also everyone else.

We recognize this is a tall order. We also recognize that in the coming years bipartisan and nonpartisan forces in Congress, in the courts, in cities, and in dining rooms will be necessary to check, and guide, the awesome power of the President of the United States of America. Democracy is about disagreement, reasoned argumentation, and the upholding of core principles that are not beholden to one set of partisans.

Our analysis unfolds as follows. First we provide a brief overview of the concept of liberal internationalism and then discuss whether or not it declined during the Obama Presidency. Then we point out the domestic and international constraints that make deviating from liberal internationalism more difficult for any American President. We analyze several policy areas, like trade and immigration, to explore whether or not we should expect a retreat from liberal internationalism. We consider this first from a domestic political-economy perspective and then from a more international strategic view.[44] We then consider an issue area that might seem particularly imperilled by the Trump administration: global climate change. A final section concludes.

1) Liberal Internationalism: An Overview

Often lost in prognostications about Trump’s future foreign policy is that Trump’s election is but the latest data point in an ongoing debate among academics and pundits over the past, present, and future of liberal internationalism.[45] This debate seems especially urgent today because Trump’s election has also coincided with watershed events like Brexit, the Matteo Renzi Italy referendum, and the rise of populist movements in a range of Western countries, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

As is often required of debates over concepts that have been used over long periods of time, it is helpful to first isolate what we mean by liberal internationalism. First, there is the internationalist component of liberal internationalism. Many scholars seem to agree on what this element of the concept means.[46] Does the U.S. engage abroad or not? Is it willing and does it feel responsible for dealing with the major problems around the world, or should it let others take care of their own problems? Such engagement is the opposite of isolationism and a retreat from global affairs. A key question is: how much of what type of engagement? The U.S. has many policy instruments it can use.[47] And it can employ these singly or in combination to pursue many different types of goals. An internationalist foreign policy is one that actively tries to use those policy instruments to deal with myriad problems outside the country, and even ones that do not directly threaten its core national security. Internationalism in today’s context means similar things to what it meant in President Woodrow Wilson’s time.

The question then is whether the internationalist foreign policy the U.S. has followed since World War II will continue. Will the U.S. maintain its alliances and build coalitions or leave others to fend for themselves and go it alone? Will it maintain its commitments to international institutions or abandon them? Will it support an open world economy or turn to protectionism?

The liberal component has been more contentious to define, but is essential to understanding the direction of policy. President Vladimir Putin and Russia today seem to be following a much more internationalist foreign policy than since the fall of the Soviet Union, but it is not a liberal one. As discussed above, this is not an antonym to conservatism. Instead we take the term to derive from the traditional political theory notion of liberalism, and thus in foreign policy to be about valuing and promoting democracy—especially liberal democracy—as well as human rights broadly construed and an open world economy. A liberal internationalist policy is actively trying to use policy tools to forward these types of goals. We further add that liberal internationalism does not foreclose the use of military force when it comes to protecting and promoting these values.

In light of this, how should we interpret Trump’s expressed foreign policy views? Are Trump’s expressed positions the antithesis of liberal internationalism? A useful starting point is to ask: does his slogan of ‘America First’ mean isolationism? The answer is no. Trump is often talking about renegotiation, not withdrawal. Wanting a ‘better deal’ does not mean abandoning all existing agreements or severing all relations. On many occasions, he and his policy team have emphasized searching for better deals within existing international institutions. For example, he has expressed a desire to take disputes with China to the World Trade Organization.

Similarly, his evaluations of existing foreign policies have focused on transactional cost-benefit analysis. As evidenced by the approach of his transition teams, he has asked ‘what does this foreign policy cost us and what do we get in return?’ While that question often belies a skepticism that the benefits may not justify the costs, the question itself does not imply a departure from liberal internationalism. As much as past politicians might have protested otherwise, liberal internationalism in American foreign policy has never been about benign charity for the world beyond U.S. borders. It has been a calculated policy to protect and advance American interests.

It might be argued that Trump’s view is antithetical to liberal internationalism because he sees the world in purely zero-sum terms and only wants a short-term transactional relationship with other countries that entirely benefits the U.S. In contrast, liberal internationalism, it is argued, implies a positive-sum worldview and a more diffuse, long-term reciprocity norm among countries. John Ikenberry’s work on liberal internationalism might be construed this way.[48] However, as any businessman who has made deals knows, voluntary agreements occur only if both sides gain something. How much each side gains is a matter of negotiating power, but both sides much get enough to accept the agreement. And as we note above, characterizing liberal internationalism as failing to maximize the gains the U.S. gets from any agreement seems naïve. The U.S. built the postwar system to maximize its influence over the long run. Hard but polite bargaining with other countries has been the norm, despite Trump’s unsupported claims to the contrary.

Trump’s commitment to liberal policies is less clear. Promoting democracy and human rights has not to date been a cornerstone of Trump’s foreign policy remarks. He does not appear likely to support the International Criminal Court (ICC), especially if it moves forward with its investigations into torture committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Trump also appears unlikely commit the U.S. to new obligations, such as the long-standing UN Convention on the Law of the Seas or a new climate change treaty

Yet, even during purported periods of the ‘heyday’ of liberal internationalism, the United States regularly violated principles of democracy promotion and human rights in its policies.[49] Even before Trump, the U.S. had failed to ratify international agreements like the UN Law of the Sea Convention, the International Criminal Court, and the Kyoto Protocol. These failures to engage have largely been due to domestic politics and failure of Congress to ratify the agreements.[50] Casting Trump as a major deviation might be a mistake.

2) The Decline of Liberal Internationalism?: The Obama Administration

During the decades of debate over liberal internationalism, there has been a strong temptation to select particular windows of time or events and extrapolate from them broad temporal trends and predictions. This approach discounts the extremely slow-moving nature of ideological changes in American foreign policy. Our entries into previous debates[51] over liberal internationalism were well-timed to demonstrate this phenomenon. In 2010, we wrote about trends in the politics of liberal internationalism, ending in the mid-to-late years of the George W. Bush administration. We revisited this debate in this forum in 2011, with more emphasis on predictions regarding the Obama administration.

In 2011, many predictions were dire. One side of the debate (not ours) argued that deepening political polarization meant that American foreign policy was turning its back on liberal internationalism. For example, Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz argued:

“In contrast, the Obama administration has backed away from this [liberal internationalist] agenda. As we predicted in “Dead Center,” growing income inequality and economic troubles at home have curtailed the appetite for further liberalization of U.S. foreign trade, particularly among Democrats sensitive to trade union support.”[52]

The fear was that Obama was abandoning America’s long standing role in world politics. Ironically now, much angst over Trump’s trade policy surrounds his willingness to roll back the gains of the Obama administration’s later years. President Barack Obama received trade negotiating authority from Congress (admittedly after a drawn-out fight with Republicans), negotiated several major free trade agreements and ratified several Preferential Trade Agreements.[53] To be fair, our own prediction was also wrong, because it was so understated. In early 2011, we wrote that Obama’s ability to “avoid rampant protectionism against the backdrop of the current global economic climate” was evidence that his administration would stay the course on free trade.[54] Clearly, he far surpassed that low hurdle with his concrete actions to deepen free trade, even as the economic recovery remained less than stellar.

In terms of international institutions, Obama forged ahead in some areas and resisted retrenchment in others. For example, the New START treaty with Russia was ratified with bipartisan support, as thirteen Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it. He decreased the leftover animosity towards the ICC from the Bush administration.

Obama’s record on the use of force to promote liberal internationalist ideals is more difficult to assess. Much like the Trump campaign, his record provides a screen on which pundits can project their own leanings, with Obama having done too much or too little depending on the particular commentator. His drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq tended to be too slow for those on the Left, while his increases in troop deployments in response to changing conditions on the ground were too little, too late for those on the Right. His refusal to commit troops to Syria was either prudence or cowardice depending on the commentator. Some might call this an illiberal decision since he refrained from an opportunity to promote democracy in Syria and overthrow a dictator. Others might give him liberal credit for at least not helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad destroy the rebels. In Ukraine, some might fault Obama for failing to prevent the decidedly illiberal annexation of Crimea, while others might credit him for a tough sanctions regime that hurt Russia. In Libya, NATO forces helped speed the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, yet then also failed to stay and build peace. (Again, ironically, following a policy trajectory in which the U.S. wins a war over regime change and then loses the peace, as occurred during the G. W. Bush administration.)

In sum, the Obama administration was marked by some distinct victories for liberal internationalism, especially on trade and climate change, but also was checkered in areas like democracy promotion. What is clear, however, is that the historical record of the Obama administration cannot be characterized as an abandonment of the liberal internationalist agenda, driven by partisan rancor. Rather, it was generally favorable towards liberal internationalism, with significant strides forward in certain areas. Yet, it was also decidedly transactional in other areas, making cost-benefit calculations about each decision based on the facts on the ground of a particular issue. Sound familiar?

3) The U.S. Political System Prevents Isolationism, Encourages Liberalism

While the pessimists often point to partisan rancor as a constraint on pursuing liberal internationalism, they also overlook how the diversity of interests and opinions in domestic politics, combined with democratic institutions, are powerful constraints on attempts to roll it back. It is extremely difficult to turn the battleship of American foreign policy; there are many captains, each tugging in different directions on the steering wheel, and each representing constituencies with particularist interests.

We think that the U.S. domestic political system and economy will help to prevent a turn to isolationism. While the Republican Party has unified control of government, this does not mean that pro-isolationist forces will have unlimited freedom to enact favored policies. The Republican Party has long supported free trade, an open world economy and democracy abroad, as emblemized by President Ronald Reagan. Nor does it mean that the incentives of individual legislators—of both parties—will be the same as the President’s. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in “The Burden of One-Party Government,” “…controlling the White House and Congress is no guarantee of success. As often as not, presidents who have enjoyed one-party rule have found themselves at war with their fellow partisans on Capitol Hill.”[55]

Following the framework in Milner and Tingley’s book Sailing the Water’s Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy,[56] we discuss several “foreign policy tools” and how their use is conditioned by the incentives created by American political institutions.[57]


International trade, almost without exception, has attracted the ire of presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Often forgotten in prognostications about Trump is that President Obama also called for a renegotiation of NAFTA during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton, who herself expressed displeasure with the agreement.[58] While we have no doubt that Trump will attempt to be more antagonistic towards trade than his predecessor, it is unclear how significant and different his policy will be.

The main reason is that many other parties beyond the Oval Office have influence over trade policy. Congress has always been extremely assertive on trade issues since the Constitution gives it the legislative power over trade. It was not easy for President Bill Clinton to pass NAFTA because of legislators in his own party. And there is ample reason to suspect that many Republican legislators have substantial interests in remaining in an agreement much like NAFTA. As with Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and every other free trade agreement in modern history, it has been the Republican Party driving free trade policy. And while no one would suggest that the Republican Party is the same as it was in 1993 when NAFTA passed, free trade still featured prominently in the 2016 Republican platform.[59] While at times aimed at undermining passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), this Party document clearly cements the importance of trade liberalization to the Republican Party.

Vast portions of the U.S. economy depend on free trade.[60] According to one estimate, imports and exports play important roles in more than 41 million American jobs.[61] Trade also has an outsized impact on the economics of many traditionally Republican states. According to the Farm Bureau, “one in three acres of America’s farms is planted for exports.”[62] Thus while the Republican platform states that “Republicans understand that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away from it,”[63] individual legislators whose constituents depend on the economic gains from trade will not readily support high tariffs, rancorous renegotiations and other policy changes that would have devastating consequences for their states and districts.

Thinking about NAFTA specifically, Republican Senators have much to lose from a trade war with Mexico. Corn is a major export to Mexico and has been mentioned as a likely target for Mexican retaliation.[64] The top five corn producing states in the United States are represented by five Republican Senators.[65] During the spat over trucking duties, Mexico retaliated against U.S. apple exports.[66] Michigan and Pennsylvania, states of clear importance on the electoral map, are two of the top four states in apple production.[67]

Beyond Mexico and NAFTA, Trump’s other favorite target, China, is responsible for trade that is tremendously beneficial for many legislative districts.  Even crucial members of his Cabinet have benefited from exports to China. For example, Terry Branstad, (Governor of Iowa) and the proposed Ambassador to China oversaw a deepening of trade relations with China in agricultural products. China is Iowa’s second biggest export destination (behind Canada) with $2.3 billion in exports in 2015.[68] This is a large number for a state with an estimated GDP of approximately $150 billion.[69] Iowa and Indiana are also major soybean producers, a product that has been mentioned as a likely target for Chinese retaliation against trade barriers.[70] Boeing, another target mentioned by China, employs thousands of workers in red states and swing states like Missouri and Pennsylvania.[71]

The political reality of trade policy is already setting in on Trump’s plans for tariffs and renegotiations. One Republican Senator has introduced legislation to limit the President’s ability to implement tariffs.[72] This is particularly noteworthy given the fervor with which Trump vowed to retaliate against politicians who withheld their endorsements during the campaign.[73] Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has already stated that he opposes efforts to raise tariffs.[74] Stock market and business analysts also think Trump’s limitations on trade will ultimately be muted.[75]

In his first week in office, Trump faced the constraints of Republican legislators whose districts stood to lose from antagonistic trade policy. To follow through on his campaign promise to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it, Trump’s spokesperson described an idea that was widely interpreted as a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico.[76] Senators John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, Benjamin Sasse, and John McCain, and several Republican Representatives quickly and publicly objected to the plan. In less than 24 hours, Trump stopped emphasizing this proposal.

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid was not a key issue in the Presidential campaign, even though it is well positioned to be cut as part of any budgetary retrenchment. To the extent that Trump weighed in on the topic during the campaign, it was in contradictory ways. At times he criticized aid, preferring that funds be spent at home, but at other times he highlighted its importance for strategic and humanitarian purposes. His transition team’s initial questions regarding Africa seem to fall more in line with the former, with some questions explicitly asking whether expenditures on aid in Africa could be better spent at home or whether initiatives like PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) were simply “entitlement programs.”[77]

Foreign aid does not have as strong a political backing behind it, although there are non-trivial numbers of supporters, many of whom are Republican. The major foreign aid initiatives of the last Congress were mostly bills sponsored by Republicans.[78]

Republican support for foreign aid is often founded on the same objectives that characterized the Trump electoral campaign. For example, the last major pieces of foreign aid legislation focused on accountability and mitigation of corruption and misuse. Strong Republican support for foreign aid also stems from its role in helping combat Islamic extremism, which is a goal that is clearly in line with the Trump campaign’s preferences.[79] Foreign aid also finds direct support in the 2016 Republican convention platform, which lauds aid as a tool for advancing U.S. security and business interests.[80] A large amount of foreign assistance is spent on products and services provided by U.S. firms. Some academic research has suggested that major foreign aid donors use aid as a way to slow migration into their countries, an objective that clearly fits with Trump’s goals.[81] The powerful backers of foreign assistance in the Republican Party are often connected to public health campaigns supported by evangelicals, the very same segment of the Republican base that spurred Trump’s choice of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a running mate.

What is most likely are changes in priorities. Support for programs that deal with climate change, LGBT issues, family planning will probably be challenged. But much foreign aid continues to be money spent by U.S. companies. On the one hand, there is substantial consensus internationally that such “tied aid” can be inefficient.[82] On the other hand, proponents of foreign aid at least gain a domestic interest group. Promises to ‘drain the swamp’ have not exactly been followed by government consultancies and lobbyists shutting down their shops. We think foreign aid will continue roughly in the same size because it supports U.S. national interests, but with different primary aims and targets.


Immigration was clearly a major campaign issue. But here too domestic political forces will make it difficult for Trump to deliver major anti-immigration policies.

First and foremost are simple demographic realities. Demographic trends point to rising percentages of Latino voters and a shrinking White population. Before Trump’s victory, Republican strategists and candidates recognized their need to court votes from minorities, and especially Latinos/as, with whom they often shared similar views on social issues. In the primary, several Republican candidates touted their credentials as Spanish-speakers or their ability to empathize with Latino/a voters.

But then Trump won the election despite winning less than a third of Latino/a voters.[83] While some within the Republican Party see this as proof that they need not work so hard to court minorities, others see Trump’s success as one-off, and they do not think Republicans can ever go back to a perceived lack of attention to minority voters. Henry Barbour, a RNC member who co-authored a 2013 RNC strategy guide that explicitly emphasized the need to improve the GOP’s standing with Latino/a’s, described this as still a “fundamental truth,” even after Trump proved that he could win without strong minority support.[84]

Because of demographics, the Republican Party simply cannot afford to cede 70% of the Latino vote to the Democrats with policies and rhetoric that continually antagonize immigrants and recent-generation citizens. The successful strategies of the GOP over the last few electoral cycles—gerrymandering and voter restriction laws—are tools whose effectiveness may wane over time in part due to more organized Democratic responses. At some point, Republicans will have to make a positive case to these citizens to attract their votes.[85] Social issues seem to be sufficient to sway approximately 30% of these voters, but alienating the other 70% cedes millions of votes to the Democrats.[86] Even Newt Gingrich has recognized this reality, urging (unsuccessfully) Trump to include at least one Hispanic person in his Cabinet.[87]

Second, many of the constituencies Trump has emphasized his support for, such as the high- tech industry, desperately need to fill high skill jobs with immigrants. Trump’s campaign initially mentioned H1-B visas with contempt, arguing that they were overused. However, Trump’s inner circle is also comprised of many who advocate for increased H1-B visa use[88] and Trump has also signalled a more positive position.[89] They recognize that the program brings in highly skilled individuals for jobs that many Americans are not qualified for, and that the overall economic effect is net-positive for American jobs.

In our initial writing of this piece, we wrote that “Trump might deliver on his promises to target Muslims, preventing their entry into the United States or even curtail the civil rights of American Muslims.” The former has already been proven correct, as President Trump has signed an Executive order barring entry for non-U.S.-citizens (and eventually green card holders) originating from several Muslim-majority countries. The order also suspended immigration for refugees from those countries for a certain period of time.

This is clearly illiberal. And it is misguided. Terrorism is an issue that has to be dealt with, but not with blanket policies against a community that by and large respects the values and principles of America. It may in the short term be tempting to ban immigrants but in the long run this can create damaging results.

The political reaction to the Executive Order has been mixed, to put it mildly. On one hand, some polls show a slight majority disapproving and others a slight majority approving of the policy.[90] On the other, the policy has triggered massive protests. And while the most common response from Republicans has been silence, many have spoken out against the ban. The influential politically active billionaire Koch brothers have spoken out against the ban. The intensity of the criticism of the ban makes it likely that it will not be renewed when the 120 day time period elapses for most countries. Trump would do well to claim improved scrutiny of immigrants and their vetting procedures and move on.

Other Domestic Political Constraints

Finally, it is important to consider two additional constraints that we have not emphasized: the electorate and the judicial branch. With respect to the ‘voice of the people,’ there are signs that overall support among the public for liberal internationalism has not plummeted. While the media has a tendency to cover communities that appear to have been negatively impacted by trade, on the whole the public still supports trade and immigration. A YouGov 2016 nationally representative survey showed a majority of Americans (and individuals from 19 other countries) supporting trade.[91] Similar majorities showing positive attitudes to other liberal internationalist policies, such as immigration and U.S. engagement, can be found in other surveys.[92]

Our analysis has also largely focused on lawmakers, yet the judicial branch will undoubtedly have a large say in the legality of many of Trump’s policies, just as they were involved in much Obama’s signature policy initiatives, like the Affordable Care Act. Legal challenges to the immigration ban began almost immediately, and immigration is one of the areas that we’ve covered in which the President is thought to have the most legal discretion.

Withdrawal from treaties and agreements is a murkier legal question. The President can clearly withdraw from ongoing negotiations of agreements and treaties that have not yet been signed or ratified, for example the TPP. The President also has broad discretion in withdrawing from mutual defense pacts (for example, Jimmy Carter’s withdrawal from a defense pact with Taiwan). Withdrawal from Congressional-Executive Agreements, of which NAFTA is the best known example, or formally ratified treaties like the U.S. accession to the World Trade Organization are a legal grey area, and the courts have generally preferred that the other branches reach a compromise on these political situations, rather than intervening judicially. Raising tariffs is also possible, but constrained by a dense set of laws that govern the conditions under which the President can raise tariffs and by how much.

So far, the Trump administration seems to be willing to take actions even if their legality is not clearly established by previous precedent. Ultimately, the judicial branch may prove to be an ineffective constraint on President Trump’s ability to change foreign policy, especially in the short to medium run. He will likely win some cases, and even defeats often take years to play out in the courts.

International judicial bodies, like the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), are also unlikely to be particularly constraining in practice. WTO disputes take years to resolve, and the ultimate enforcement mechanism is retaliation by other member states. Those states will likely resort to retaliation before waiting for the full DSU process to play out, meaning that the threat of international legal sanction likely does not add additional constraint.

4) The World Prevents Isolationism

In addition to these domestic constraints, American presidents face international pressures that support an ongoing liberal internationalist foreign policy.[93] We think that liberal internationalism remains in the United States’ best national interests. This means that policies that go against it will have great costs, ones that outweigh the benefits, for American security and the national economy. In part this is because the way in which other countries react to American policies or threaten to react to them can create costs and benefits for the U.S. that change its foreign policy calculus. Actions that seem to have net benefits for the U.S. at first, such as decreasing funding for an international organization, may trigger reactions from foreign countries that make the policy very costly for the U.S. in the end. Most of all, American withdrawal from the international system will open the doors to the influence of other countries that do not share American priorities, such as China and Russia.

First, the United States benefits a great deal from the institutions it set up after World War II. These institutions help the U.S. coordinate policies globally and engender willingness to share burdens with other countries. Were it to exit these institutions, other countries might take them over and make them-or replace them with ones- much less beneficial to the U.S. Second, American behavior that creates serious costs for other countries can be met by all sorts of retaliatory behavior. The United States cannot just count on other countries to do nothing if it drastically changes its policies toward them. And these reactions can be very costly. Finally, it is not clear that if the U.S. retreats and leaves foreign problems for others to deal with that it will not be hurt by its failure to engage. For instance, ignoring poverty and war in other countries may seem smart until it leads to the massive migration of people into the U.S. or global epidemics that infect the U.S. as well. A closer example is Mexico; the biggest forces driving immigration from there into the United States are the disparities between the two countries’ economies. Putting America first and making its economy boom at the expense of the Mexican economy—if it is even possible to decouple the two in this age of interdependence—is simply going to create massive pressure for migration into the United States. Climate change may be another example of this, as we discuss later. We elaborate on each of these below.

4.1 Benefits from Institutions

Doubters of a liberal internationalist future for the U.S. might suggest that a Trump administration will end or substantially reduce U.S. participation in forums like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, NATO, the UN, and the World Health Organization. Trump’s constant refrain regarding these institutions is that they no longer promote U.S. interests, are obsolete, and that a better deal awaits. He wants to bargain for a new relationship or to try to bilaterally negotiate a new deal with each partner. It remains to be seen how close this is to the thinking of Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit supporters in the UK.[94]

We suspect the Trump administration will eventually realize a very different picture: that many of these institutions were designed with American interests very much at their heart. Lofty rhetoric of past administrations aside, these institutions were shaped and supported by the U.S. predominantly because they furthered American interests, not because of an altruistic worldview. The U.S. negotiated hard in each case and got much of what it wanted, as the most powerful country in the world. Other countries joined in these multilateral deals because they too gained. One feature of media coverage and punditry regarding these international institutions is that they are quick to highlight the times in which foreign nations and their actions in these institutions diverge from American interests. However, these events are generally the exceptions that demonstrate the rule. For example, it is not headline-grabbing or noteworthy to say ‘The International Monetary Fund again makes a decision that is clearly based on U.S. interests.’ Nevertheless, a wealth of scholarly evidence demonstrates how American interests shape the recipients, amount, conditionality, and enforcement of IMF loans.[95] Moreover, if one believes that the U.S. is actually weaker today than in the past, then one should not renegotiate these deals since the United States will only get a worse outcome.

Trump’s Cabinet picks have frequently mentioned the recent United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements as an example of the UN run amuck. Yet the resolution’s significance for U.S. foreign policy lies not in the fact that nations abroad condemned Israel, a regular occurrence, but rather that the Obama administration declined to veto the resolution. Defunding or defanging an institution where the U.S. has complete veto power over the most meaningful institutions will not advance U.S. interests. The United States’ Security Council veto ensures that absolutely no policy can get through that body if the U.S. decides that it is not in its interests. There is no way to re-negotiate that deal to make it any sweeter on paper. Abdicating a leadership role in them will simply open up opportunities for other countries to occupy a position of greater power and even rewrite the rules in their favor.

Furthermore, other countries need to agree to any arrangement posed for a new bargain to be struck. The terms of a bargain get more favorable as a party’s bargaining power increases, and it is not clear that the U.S. is in a better negotiation position today compared to the 1950’s when these institutions were created. The Trump administration has focused on its willingness to walk away from institutions as their source of leverage, and few would argue that it has failed to convey this willingness at top volume. But Trump also presides over a country that has seen its soft power, another important component of bargaining leverage, decline because of the Iraq and Afghan wars as well as the United States’ role in the global financial crisis. The Trump administration has focused solely on its stick, ignoring its paucity of carrots. The most effective strategy will be able to use both tactics.

As demonstrated by Brexit, brinksmanship with international counterparts is a high-risk, low-reward strategy. The potential gains are often minimal. The U.S. pays approximately $10 billion annually to the United Nations. Its annual military budget is close to $600 billion, and its annual government spending is almost $4 trillion. Even if Trump cut U.S. contributions in half, with no strings attached, a savings of $5 billion is a drop in a drop of the bucket for the United States. Yet, consider the consequences when other countries call your bluff and you are forced to follow through on withdrawal or defunding. As the UK is learning, your bargaining power evaporates and you are forced to start from square one. The situation with international institutions is even worse for the United States than Brexit is to Britain; there are other countries like China who would happily step in to cover those contributions in exchange for greater influence. The international institutions the U.S. created are part of the global balance of power; they shape that balance in ways that are favorable to the U.S.

A bilateral approach to dealing with the issues covered by these international institutions, with the hopes of gaining better bargaining power, would be ineffective and extremely time consuming. Banding together with other countries that share some common interests with the U.S. enables it to get a lot of what it wants, while sharing some of the burdens of paying for these institutions.[96] This sets up a classic tradeoff that we have studied elsewhere.[97] Going it alone gives you more control over policy, but you lose burden sharing. The Trump administration may try to navigate mechanisms for contributing less while retaining the same power. This may at times be effective, but it will be less effective in contexts like the IMF where power is nominally linked to contributions. The same will go for other institutions like the World Bank, which has long played a role in foreign aid and economic development.

Furthermore, foreign aid is increasingly dispersed by a range of multilateral actors, and new bilateral actors like China. Recent work suggests that this increased competition will only make it harder for the U.S. to use foreign aid to influence the policies of other countries.[98] Thus bilateral approaches to aid that try to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals will become harder, not easier, than multilateral engagement.

A similar set of considerations applies to the role of the U.S. in the world militarily. Continuing the discussion about multilateral institutions, the same burden sharing versus control tradeoff obtains.[99] Take NATO for example. During the campaign Trump actively used rhetoric about NATO ‘ripping’ the U.S. off, claiming that other countries did not pay their fair share. While in a campaign these types of statements might persuade individual citizens who do not know the details of United States’ and other country’s contributions to NATO. But as President, Trump will face the facts at the negotiating table. U.S. direct contributions to NATO are calculated based on gross national income.[100] As such, contributions across all members are now proportionate to their economies and do change over time.[101] Instead of being focused on dramatically renegotiating NATO as an institution, his focus seems to be on others spending more on their own militaries overall.[102] But if countries like Germany, Italy and Canada spend more on their militaries due to this push, the U.S. should expect these countries to demand a greater say in NATO.

It will also be interesting to see how Trump handles playing hardball on this while still maintaining the United States’ role as the world’s top arms exporter: pull back from its alliances and see these American jobs evaporate?[103] U.S. arms sales abroad are measured in the tens of billions of dollars.  Changes in foreign purchasing decisions would offset any gains from renegotiation.

4.2 Retaliation

The preceding section presumed that U.S. partners abroad would demand a greater say in return for greater burden sharing. However, a more direct way in which the international system can exert pressure on the United States is via retaliatory measures. These measures need not be explicit nor directed to the same area and often they are not. But they can change the cost-benefit calculus of policies. For instance, in the G.W. Bush administration, the attempt to reduce steel imports in 2002 met with retaliation by the Europeans against key products exported from the United States. The Europeans were particularly savvy. They targeted key congressional districts with their retaliatory measures and they took the case to the WTO. They targeted oranges from Florida, motorcycles from Ohio, and textiles from South Carolina—all states of electoral importance. Once the Bush administration understood the political implications of these measures, it recalculated the benefits of steel tariffs.[104] In 2003 just as the European measures were coming into play after the WTO had ruled against the U.S., the Bush administration gave up on the steel tariffs. Such direct, explicit retaliation is rare in international politics; more often it is tacit and aimed at other areas, and thus harder to pinpoint as the cause of a policy reversal. But retaliation and its threat are potent sources of international constraint on states.

One way to think about retaliation is to put it in the context of the many large, multinational, firms that constitute a sizable part of the U.S. economy. These multinational companies have huge globally distributed production chains.[105] Analysts expect that the Chinese might target retaliation to include major U.S. manufacturing firms like Boeing and Caterpillar, as well as the agricultural exports mentioned above. Apple also seems to be in the crosshairs, perhaps because of Trump’s praise of the company during the campaign.[106] Indeed, in his “summit” with technology leaders Trump pledged he would help these firms.[107] It would hardly be in Apple’s interest, for example, to have its global supply chains disrupted, which would happen if retaliatory tactics were used.

Finally, even if the U.S. did not face retaliation for applying tariffs on imports, efforts to punish importers will punish the big U.S. exporters: “While it might sound like a good idea to punish firms that import and help firms that export, the fact is that most exporters, and certainly the biggest exporters, are importers too. (Likewise, most of the biggest importers are big exporters). Therefore, there is no way to punish importers without hurting the top U.S. exporters.”[108] The most recent economics research on the subject highlights just how interconnected all of these flows are for the largest, most global firms. Their choices of sourcing for inputs as well as their ability to export are interrelated, meaning that disruptions or changes on one margin—say a U.S. tariff on imports of steel, a key intermediate good—have widespread reverberations in sourcing and exporting decisions that may reduce profits and hurt employment.[109]

4.3 Externalities

A failure by the U.S. to engage is likely to have consequences back home. Many global problems have externalities that will affect the U.S. directly. Allowing countries to fail and then become havens for drug production, terrorists, and crime is likely to enable those forces to become stronger and more threatening to the United States. This is the sad story of Afghanistan for the past 30 years. But it is also important in other areas such as global health, where the U.S. wants and needs other countries to prevent epidemics and control them if they start; immigration, which can spike if a country descends into violence (witness Syria) or is plagued by poor development[110]; and financial regulation, where crises can spread globally and undermine the global economy. For example, if the United States makes Mexico’s economic situation worse, and takes away opportunities for jobs there (including ones by foreign firms), then it makes disparities between the countries larger. The temptation to migrate increases. While a retreat into isolationism may appear costless and appealing, it will actually have many costs and few benefits in the interdependent global system.

5) Emerging Areas for Liberal Internationalism: Global Climate Change

When it comes to foreign affairs, the next four years will not just be about trade, foreign aid, immigration, and the role of the U.S. military. Key emerging issues like climate change will come up. While the President and his proposed director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seem to be climate sceptics,[111] there are ample reasons to suspect that this scepticism will be moderated when it comes to policy outputs.

On the domestic political economy side (analogous to the discussion in Section 4), there are several forces at play. Most important is the fact that the development of low-carbon technology is a source of growth and jobs. The fact that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a detailed path forward on this,[112] rather than President Trump, does not undermine the economic arguments.[113] Does the Trump administration want China to control the market in green technology?[114] Second, local level (state and city) efforts that the Federal government will struggle to overturn[115] are already highly developed.[116] Third, the U.S. military, a non-partisan institution, has repeatedly called climate change a major issue that is not just a projection, but an existing reality.[117] Fourth, deniers that humans are causing climate change are in the minority, a result replicated across numerous public opinion polls.[118] It is not just American scientists, or scientists throughout the world, or publics across the world, it is also the American people who want solutions.

Nevertheless, Trump’s reluctance about acknowledging the connection between human fossil fuel emissions and climate change is perhaps justified by a desire to protect the livelihoods of individuals working in coal and related industries. Here we find an opportunity. In separate work, Tingley is studying support for what he provisionally calls “Climate Adjustment Assistance” (CAA). Analogous to Trade Adjustment Assistance, this program would help workers in these sectors transition away from these industries and retrain. It is not the fault of American citizens working in coal or other carbon intensive industries to be in an industry that contributes to health and other problems, just like it was not the fault of those working in asbestos when it was outlawed. In a recent nationally representative poll, Tingley finds dramatic bipartisan support for this policy.

Bipartisan agreement on climate change is possible. To take another example, efforts to support a carbon tax as long as it offsets income or payroll taxes has long appealed to conservatives and liberals (including former Vice President of the United States Al Gore).[119] We suspect there might be a larger gap between Congress and some of Trump’s Cabinet/his advisers than between Congress, President Trump, and the American people.

The structure of the international system also creates an impetus for U.S. leadership on climate change. Whether or not efforts to reduce climate changes operate through government regulations via the EPA, market mechanisms that capture the negative polluting effects of coal, investment in safe nuclear energy,[120] geoengineering,[121] and/or other bipartisan ways to deal with this complicated issue, U.S. leadership is a must.[122] The quickest way for the United States to get a bad deal on global climate change initiatives is to stay out of them, and let other countries lead and control the future markets for energy technology, which may be a major source of jobs and profits.


The title of our article is “Maybe Down but Not Out” instead of “Business As Usual” because there are undeniably threats to liberal internationalism. Some Americans feel that liberal internationalism has caused their problems, or at least contributed in a major way to them. And Trump has responded to this sentiment by arguing for ‘America First.’ The effects of liberal internationalist policies create domestic winners and losers, even if they benefit the U.S. overall.[123] For instance, in addition to creating jobs and raising wages for some, freer trade has meant that some people lose their jobs; for others it has contributed to stagnant wages. Trade, like all other policies, creates winners and losers. But trade and international engagement are only partially responsible for the troubles Americans feel they face. Recent estimates, for example, suggest that technological change and automation have played a much larger role in determining these outcomes.[124] Moreover, inequality has grown worse in the United States than in other rich countries because of domestic policies related to taxes and spending. Solutions to America’s problems will not come from abandoning liberal internationalism but from making domestic policy changes.

Inequality, and the dissatisfaction in Western democracies (not to mention other countries) it has generated, has resulted from many sources—technological change, tax policy, deregulation, economic crisis, the decline of unions, outsourcing, austerity, immigration, etc. Unfortunately policies to help those who did not gain and those who lost from globalization and technological change have been largely stymied. Republicans have prevented any such measures for many years by opposing programs like Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). For example, they incorporated their opposition to TAA into their stances on Trade Promotion Authority and the U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement.[125] Such programs have been the cornerstone of what scholars called “embedded liberalism.”[126] And the numerous loopholes in the tax system that favor the wealthy made the tax system less progressive. So the rich got richer.[127]

Trump’s appeal was clearly driven by these frustrations, regardless of where the blame lay for them. But if Trump is serious about helping his fellow citizens working blue collar jobs, he will need to be serious about more than cutting one-off deals with particular firms, and instead develop policies to help U.S. workers be more competitive against foreign workers and automation and to ready them for new jobs that are coming. The trick will be to make sure that these new policies, be they re-negotiations of trade deals or other strategies, do not lead to others losing their livelihoods or cause spikes in prices for consumers purchasing U.S. manufactured goods (as happened in the “Carrier deal” where a US manufacturing company was compelled to keep some U.S. jobs from moving overseas).[128]

Retooling and retraining for the global economy of the next 20 years, or even 4, will not be easy (no matter the negotiating prowess of the President), especially for individuals closer to retirement. Fortunately, though, the years of experience these older workers often bring to firms are an asset in their own right.[129] But for both them and younger workers, the changing industrial basis of the United States is not to be taken lightly. A key guideline for policy should be to protect workers, not the industry they work in. The government should improve its assistance programs for workers who lose their medical benefits and pensions when firms fail or depart, it should find ways to make such programs portable so that mobility is less costly, and it should look at novel and more generous ways of helping workers train for and find new jobs, as some European countries do well. Negative income taxes or universal basic incomes might also be explored to see if they can help.

Yes, the United States’ role in the world does change and fluctuate. But our argument is that there are structural global as well as domestic institutional forces that tether the U.S. to the rest of the world.[130] American policy may oscillate, but it seems unlikely that the American government is going to abandon liberal internationalism writ large. Some scholars like Kupchan and Trubowitz argue that large events like the Vietnam War and the end of the Cold War would undermine the political consensus that supported liberal internationalism. They predicted “wide oscillations in policy as power changes hands between Republicans and Democrats.”[131] Those two events were as important as they come. Yet, they did not cause a U.S. withdrawal or rampant vacillation.

Liberal internationalism is still in the American national interest and because of this both domestic and international pressures will moderate any of Trump’s preferences for drastic measures to change U.S. foreign policy.[132] We have tried to outline those constraints above. What is interesting from a scholarly perspective is that this administration will also provide us with evidence for the strength of such institutional and external pressures. We could be wrong of course. Trump and his team’s preferences for isolationism and economic nationalism may be so strong and persistent that their aggressive and undiplomatic rhetoric alone poisons U.S. relations with allies, rivals, and enemies alike. Or it may be that domestic institutions with their checks and balances are undermined by other actions and policies, leaving the United States less liberal and presidential power more unchecked.

If Trump takes U.S. foreign policy on a dramatic new course, then we will need to reassess our theories about foreign policy and international relations. It may be the case that leaders and their preferences are far more important than many of our theories allow. Or it may be that we need much better theory to assess what is in the national interest and how we can discern it. We may also need a more refined model of the political economy of foreign policy, in which the losers from globalization have a far more outsized impact on policymaking than many of our theories expect. In any case, Trump’s foreign policy will provide an interesting challenge for the study of international relations.

What we do expect to see, however, is an administration that makes some incremental changes in the directions it promised, with a very large amount of credit claiming. We have already seen this with the Carrier deal. According to the President-elect’s rhetoric, he demanded and received a better deal from a traitorous U.S. firm seeking to move jobs abroad and convinced the firm to invest in its factories. Others say the job gains were minimal and that the company plans on using its investment to increase automation in its factories, which decreases jobs. What is clear, however, is that small-bore, one-off deals with particular companies will not have an outsized impact on jobs or trade in either direction. These single actions are not a policy.

There is similar low-hanging fruit in other areas that would allow Trump to claim credit, without radically altering the status quo. For example, a modest increase in funding for border patrol could be sold as an achievement to curb illegal immigration, setting aside that the U.S. Mexican border is already heavily patrolled and that Trump’s estimates of the quantity of illegal immigrants are orders of magnitude beyond the actual numbers.[133]

It will take something even more huge than the populist tide that swept Trump to the White House to dismantle the many positive aspects of U.S. liberal international engagement. And for now, we pray that our incoming President realizes that making America first does not mean making everyone else last. Good deals for the United States are good deals for others as well; if not, they will not sign or enforce them. And we hope that leaders throughout the country, from teachers to corporate decision-makers to Congress to Generals, realize how much they matter: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Essay by Brian Rathbun, University of Southern California

Does the election of President Donald Trump herald the end of the multilateral order created by the United States in the wake of its victory in WWII? How is his new populist foreign policy different from that which would have been pursued by other Republicans had they won the election?

The question puts me in a somewhat curious spot. On the one hand, I have spent my career noting the importance of political agency, which I have found necessary so as to combat what I see to be the overwhelmingly and overstated structural character of most international relations scholarship. On this very question of the bipartisan, multilateralist foreign policy of the post-WWII era, I have made the case that bipartisanship was from the very beginning something of a myth, one held together by the common threat of the Soviet Union, and which quickly dissipated after the Cold War ended. We did not have to wait for Trump to hear disparaging things about the United Nations and multilateralism. The bipartisan support for the United Nations and NATO, for instance, was a bargain between Republicans and Democrats, the latter making sure for the former that neither institution could really constrain American foreign policy in any meaningful way.[134]Article V, now treated as a sacrosanct and fixed commitment to respond to any act of aggression against NATO partners, is at least on paper nothing of the sort. It has a loophole big enough to drive a Soviet tank through, asking only that member states do what they individually deem necessary to restore the security of the North Atlantic area. And the same treaty contains Article III, requiring self-help and mutual aid, at the request of Republican Arthur Vandenberg, who served as Senate chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. This was to assert the very same concern about free-riding that Trump and his team now make, but was one of the most familiar lines of attack against the treaty in 1948 and 1949. Constructivist scholars have argued that, legal niceties aside, a community of values was developing or has developed, one that is deeply rooted in social structures. We all have a common liberal identity.

And now, a few weeks into Trump’s presidency, in my conversations with other scholars, I hear concerns that those very foundations are supposedly crumbling with just a few small pushes from a new president. Surely if structural constraints are real at all, they should be able to stand a bit more than a few tweets about NATO’s obsolescence. I think that the structural foundations of bipartisan multilateralism were shallower than most others do, but it seems these concerns are overstated. However, I think so not for structural reasons, such as the deep and abiding trust among the democratic powers, but for political and psychological ones. I do not see how Trump can put together a foreign-policy coalition that can sustain his populist foreign policy given the intense antagonism of Democrats to his agenda and the fragmentation of the right on foreign policy issues as well. His positions do not offer any possibilities for ‘Baptist-bootlegger’ coalitions of the kind that the creators of the postwar multilateral order, the Democrat administrations of Roosevelt and Truman, used to cement their plans. And Trump’s psychological make-up will make it impossible for him to secure any real lasting benefits in the foreign policy arena. We will see, as we did after the George W. Bush years (remember those?) a regression to the mean.

What is Trump’s foreign policy? Putting America first is not a new slogan and not one that many (particularly on the right, most also on the left) would argue against in private. There have been some online kerfuffles about whether Trump is simply a realist laying bare his dog-eat-dog view of the world.[135] He is not, partially because, as I will explain, a realist would never say something so transparently counterproductive for one’s own egoistic interests. Trump is first and foremost a walking foreign policy “Id” capable only of thinking only of satisfying his and American wants and desires and lacking the cognitive capacity to realize that one can only succeed in such a task if one knows how to use others.  He lacks not only empathy, but also instrumental empathy, the ability to pretend that one is concerned about more than oneself or one’s own country’s interests in order to secure egoistically beneficial outcomes. This awareness of others’ interests is at the heart of Realpolitik and its absence is what drives realists most crazy. It is one thing to pursue a Mexican contribution to and cooperation on border security; it is another to publicly claim that another country is going to pay for something they do not like.

Trump has a terrifically overstated view about how even a military hegemon like the United States can force its own agenda through, evident in his frequent tirades against the “horrible,” “disgraceful,” “terrible,” “disastrous” deals that the United States has concluded on trade (TPP, NAFTA, etc.) or security (Iran). He insists that he could have gotten better deals.

He could not. It is impossible to know whether there were bargaining gains left on the table, for instance in the Iran deal. However, I am comfortable saying that Trump would not have found them and will not do so in any meaningful way if he attempts to revisit them. In research I have done with Joshua Kertzer at Harvard University with undergraduates, we had students who were playing an incentivized laboratory game identify their social value orientation, crudely whether they were egoists interested only in their own gains or prosocials who had regard for others.[136] However, egoists were further distinguished, through self-reported measures, between those with lower and higher levels of epistemic motivation, essentially an enjoyment of and commitment to thinking through problems. We can call this rational thinking. Egoists who lacked epistemic motivation bargained more or less the same way regardless of whether they were more or less powerful in the game itself: they demanded more. Egoists with epistemic motivation–I would call them realists–adjusted their behavior to suit the structural circumstances. When they were weak, they made better offers. When they were stronger, they turned the screws a bit. And they did better overall in terms of monetary payouts in the end. Egoists with low epistemic motivation did worse than prosocials committed to more egalitarian outcomes because the latter were more capable of finding mutual beneficial outcomes and avoiding major losses brought about by hard bargaining in weak positions.

Everything about Trump suggests a lack of epistemic motivation–his incessant self-regard, his impulsiveness, his never-ending litigiousness in his business dealings. He is, although I think he would find it painful to hear it, simply not strategic. Trump claims to value those with smarts–remember that his cabinet ‘has the highest IQ ever’–but his approach to politics, foreign policy, and life are fundamentally un-cerebral and unreflective. Ultimately his foreign policy will be largely expressive, an end in itself that will get in the way of accomplishing its own aims. As Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said during the election about Trump, his supporters want someone to throw over the kitchen table. After that not much has been thought out.

Trump is also fundamentally un-realistic in another way. He is (it seems genuinely) convinced that he, now America, is always the aggrieved party. ‘Unfair’ might be one of his most frequently used words. Bargainers of the type described above are known to complain about offers made to them and their share of the pie as morally insufficient, phenomena known in the negotiation literature as ‘ego defensiveness’ and ‘reactive devaluation.’ Of course there is no such thing as fairness for a true realist. There is the distribution that the situation allows. And there is definitely no such thing as a whiny realist. Trump is not a realist.

All of this makes it, I would argue, impossible for Trump to establish any type of alliance with the realist faction of the Republican Party even though on some issues they are closer than the realists would like to admit. When Trump complains that the United States cannot be the policeman of the world and that it wasted trillions of dollars on wars in Iraq that left it worse off, does this not sound like critique made by realists about the need to engage in strategic retrenchment, focusing on vital interests first?[137]

Realists, however, make up an ever-shrinking part of the Republican establishment. Can Trump make common cause with other caucuses in the conservative movement? I don’t think so. The new President, unlike most patriots, does not put the United States up on a pedestal. Although one might diagnose his defense of Russian President Putin as being in the tank (literally?) for the Russians, I think it actually suggests a moral equivalence generally found in the left (“we aren’t perfect ourselves”) but also isolationists. The neoconservative program in foreign policy, however, is built on the idea of American exceptionalism. It is an idealistic nationalism, one rooted not in nativism but what America represents. It is as egoistic ultimately as Trump’s positions (we are fighting for democracy which gives us a mandate for regime change if we like it, United Nations or not) but that form of egoism pushes in a completely different direction. Trump has absolutely no interest in what American symbolizes or represents.

Ultimately Trump will only be able to redirect the post-WWII direction of American foreign policy if he can grow an isolationist wing predicated on military retrenchment (with an exception for fighting Islamic terrorism) and protectionist trade policy. On this I am fundamentally structuralist. The United States cannot put globalization back in the bottle. It is an exogenous change in the world economy. We can pursue an ostrich foreign policy, but the opportunity costs will be enormous. If Trump does not, and I do not think he will, respond to those kinds of systemic pressures, eventually someone will replace him who does. At that point we will be back to where we started, which is not as ideal as we thought.


Essay by Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University

“Liberal Internationalism and Partisan Conflict[138]


I want to thank my colleague Robert Jervis for inviting me to write a follow-up piece to the International Security Studies Forum Roundtable in 2011 on the question, “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?” The Roundtable included thoughtful essays by Jervis, Brian Rathbun, and the coauthor teams of Josh Busby and Jonathan Monten, and Steven Chaudoin, Helen Milner and Dustin Tingley.[139] Jervis’s introductory essay cited the work on partisan conflict and polarization that I had done with Yaeli-Bloch Elkon and Jack Snyder.[140] Since then I have continued with various collaborators to do research and assemble extensive data on the continued increase in what I call ‘ideological partisan conflict’ in American politics. This conflict that is clearly demarcated along liberal/conservative and corresponding Democratic/Republican party lines has led to an enormous amount of research on the opinions and behavior of political leaders, the mass public, and the media.

This partisan conflict goes far beyond what existed in the days of more heterogeneous Democratic and Republican political parties described in the election and early voting studies of the mid-twentieth century.[141]  Rather, it has been characterized by striking ideological polarization among party leaders, with the disappearance of moderate centrists, particularly among Republicans in Congress and elsewhere. Most strikingly, Republicans and Democrats became consistently conservative and liberal, respectively, across an increasingly wide range of issues. Among the mass public there may not be full-blown polarization, but there has clearly been wide-scale “partisan sorting,” with strong Republicans and Democrats, again, taking more consistently conservative and liberal positions on policy issues.[142] This transformation has visible consequences. First and foremost, it is related to the gridlock in government which has been readily apparent, hindering the passage of congressional legislation to deal with salient issues and national problems.[143]  It also led to today’s stunning and shrill disagreement over facts and reality—including claims of “fake news”—which has raised questions about the “democratic competence” of the country’s leaders and the American public.[144]

While partisan conflict and polarization, and the study of it, initially centered largely on domestic issues, this has been extended to national security and foreign policy. This became increasingly apparent during President George W. Bush’s administration. The September 2011 terrorist attacks and the 2003 Iraq invasion spurred this on, but its beginnings were visible earlier.[145] My collaborators and I were initially concerned with the overall extent of partisan conflict in policymaking, but our findings and those of others have raised broader questions of the future liberal internationalism.[146]

Liberal Internationalism (LI) can be defined in different ways depending on what one wants to emphasize. Busby and Monten observed that supporters of LI after the Second World War:

“recognized that peace and prosperity could only be restored with an America engaged in support of the new liberal order, which would require support for free trade, foreign assistance to rebuild Europe, the creation of new international organizations, and, as the intentions of the Soviet Union became clear, a willingness to back this order through military spending to keep pace with or surpass the power of the Soviet Union. These elements roughly can be grouped into a cooperative and coercive component. Politically, two groups rallied behind the idea of LI: left of center groups that supported the cooperative side of international engagement (free trade, international organizations, and foreign assistance) and centrist internationalists, which included both Democrats and a number of Republicans, that supported cooperative tools of engagement but also were willing to use force, spend resources on the military, and were prepared to match the military power of the Soviet Union.”[147]

Today, the Soviet Union is out of the picture in what has been a world of regional conflicts.  However, with Russia and China seeking to become—or at least be treated as—world powers, LI can be taken to emphasize multilateral cooperation through agreements and international organizations. Force should be used as a last resort and not unilaterally.

Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz, whose work helped prompt this debate about the future of LI, have argued, in short, that LI has been undermined in the United States both by Republicans, first at the level of political leaders and then public opinion that rejected multilateralism, and also by Democrats wanting to avoid the use force. They based this on their interpretation of increasing partisan differences among leaders and the public across an array of foreign policy issues. As a result they foresaw less U.S. engagement in liberal internationalist efforts.[148]  In contrast, Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley did not see a decline in bipartisan support in Congress and public opinion for what they saw as the key aspects of LI related to American political and economic engagement, as well as the use of force abroad.  Looking at the initial years of the Obama administration, they concluded that the administration “made enormous strides in maintaining LI in a very difficult political and economic environment.”[149] Busby and Monten did not view the partisan trends as starkly, nor did they completely agree with Kupchan and Trubowitz that changes in public opinion were important in shifting the nation away from LI; but they did see a noticeable shift away from support for multilateral approaches and international organizations among a subgroup of Republicans elites beginning in the 1990s. A unilateralist faction rose within the GOP that challenged the party’s moderate internationalists. This faction, whether it should be called staunchly neoconservative or not, was at the ready to support President Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Why this occurred, Busby and Monten admit, was not clear and warranted further research. It may have been, as I see it, at least in part related to increasing partisan divergence, driven by conservative opinions on possibly related domestic issues such as government regulation, environmental protection, and especially gun control and policing and criminal justice issues. This unilateralist fervor then came up against the lack of success in Iraq and Afghanistan (see below on the public opinion side). On the diplomatic upside, Busby and Monten noted that the Senate in December 2010 overwhelmingly passed the new START treaty, which included support from thirteen Republicans.  Thus, while some trends afoot could pose challenges to LI, the Obama administration was not prevented from liberal internationalist pursuits—as Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley also concluded.

The View since 2011

What is the state of LI and partisan conflict since the 2011 Roundtable?  I pick up the story from where Busby and Monten and Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley left off, and from what Kupchan and Trubowitz (2007) foreshadowed but that the Obama years had not yet clearly shown.  In reflecting on the Obama administration’s accomplishments for an article in Columbia College Today (Barack Obama being the first and only Columbia graduate to become President—and also, as it happened, a student who had specialized in IR as a political science major), I roughly agree with the findings of the first two groups of Roundtable authors. There has been some increasing evidence for foreign policy gridlock in Congress that was disputed by the authors in the Roundtable.  Sarah Binder’s updated data from her 2014 report show a further uptick in both congressional attention (though still low) and partisan gridlock in the case of foreign policy issues (though far less than for domestic issues); whether this is a continuing trend remains to be seen.[150]  Nonetheless, Obama had a lot to show as a liberal internationalist in the direction of what his Nobel Prize awarders had hoped for:  in addition to his efforts on nuclear arms treaties, his administration signed on to a ground-breaking international global climate agreement and the controversial nuclear agreement with Iran. He tried vigorously to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.  His approach to fighting international terrorism and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria attempted to be multilateral.  He employed U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan, though not fully as a fighting force, with the goal of extricating the U.S. quickly at some point—sooner rather than later. And the change in U.S. policy toward Cuba and the recognition of the island nation were an important breakthrough in U.S.-Cuban relations and also—though not widely appreciated—for U.S. relations with Latin America.[151]

That said, there has been partisan conflict around these issues that cannot be ignored, and all of the policies may be undone by the newly elected unified Republican government headed by President Donald Trump. I agree with Busby and Monten’s view in this current Roundtable that “the Trump administration looks to provide a massive stress test for the durability of the international order and may yet remake the landscape of public opinion in ways unforeseen.”[152] Trump and the Republicans in Congress may reverse most if not all of Obama’s accomplishments, as Trump promised during the 2016 election campaign.  In addition, new issues have arisen since the 2011 Roundtable that do not augur well for LI.  One is the refugee issue that came out of the civil war in Syria. Obama tried to work in liberal internationalist fashion with Turkey and European and Mideast countries to resettle the Syrian refugees.  The issue of resettling them has caused major problems in all of these countries that are dealing with their own economic and other travails as well.  This has compounded existing immigration issues which in turn have provoked resentment in many of these countries, and has contributed to the rise of populist leaders who are challenging democratic nations in Europe. Moreover, the most recent development unfolding is the extent to which these populist leaders may move in the direction of closer relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Since the 2011 Roundtable, the issues of immigration, refugees, and terrorism related to ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism have been increasingly partisan and conflict-ridden, which played out to the advantage of Republicans in the election of Trump.  The same can be said of the debate over globalization and free trade, which appeared to split both major parties, with Trump’s supporters rejecting the free trade positions of mainstream Republicans (though, surprisingly, without Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters differing substantially from other Democrats on this in the available polling data, despite Sanders being in sync with Trump on opposition to trade agreements that were perceived as adversely affecting employment in the United States). Politics has become even more complicated in the short time since 2011 and has posed a further challenge to LI. This includes the vote for Britain’s exit (Brexit) from the European Union and the rise of populist leaders in Europe who reject LI and are, stunningly, poised to see if they can play ball with Vladimir Putin and Russia. (Or is there a plausible alternative view that adverse consequences of this for LI could be offset by the potential for easing U.S. and European tensions with Russia?)

There are now substantial partisan differences in public opinion on immigration, refugee, international trade, and globalization issues, and with this LI may face more serious challenges than it did in 2011. What, then, does this further partisan conflict in public opinion look like, and how does it bear on liberal internationalism?

Partisan Conflict in Public Opinion

On the one hand, the U.S. public opinion data still show basic support related to the tenets of LI that Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley emphasized. On the other, some partisan differences across a wide range of relevant issues have become more severe, and the differences that have emerged, which increasingly concern refugees, immigration, terrorism and trade, have caused new tensions. The figures and tables described in the sections that follow can be found in the Appendix.  We owe a debt to the organizations that have conducted the surveys that have provided these data (see footnote 1).

Support but Underlying Tensions for the General Tenets of LI:  Figures 1 and 2 present the well-known Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) trend data into 2016 (2014 for “leaders”) showing persistent public support for the U.S. playing an “active part in world affairs”—at the 60 percent or better level for the public, with little in the way of significant partisan differences. This is even more striking—virtually unanimous— for the CCGA sample of leaders’ opinions. Based on other data, the Chicago Council reports that leaders underestimate the level of public support by about fifteen percentage points.  One countercurrent here, as shown by responses to other questions reported by the Pew Research Center in Figure 3, is that there has been a noticeable rise in agreement, though still a minority opinion, that the U.S. should go its own way in world affairs and not worry about other countries agreeing with it; public opinion has also become split on whether the “U.S. should mind its own business internationally…”  And the public’s support for giving priority to “our own national problems” rather than thinking more in international terms, has increased over time. The most recent data since 2013, however, show a modest reversal in these trends. Still, there is evidence for an increase in the concern that U.S. foreign policy should focus more than it has on Americans’ interests, which is a “realist” view that Trump apparently capitalized on in winning the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and general election. How this view plays out going forward poses a challenge to LI.[153]

That said, the public also continues to see the U.S. as the most influential country in the world, as shown in Figure 4 (a steady 8.5 on a 10 point scale of influence, topping all other countries by about 1.5 points).  In 2016, according to Figure 5, 60 percent of registered voters responded in a Pew survey that global problems would be worse without U.S. efforts, with little overall partisan difference–(65 percent of Republicans versus 58 percent of Democrats)—and 57 percent of Trump supporters saying so, versus 49 percent, still a plurality, of Sanders supporters.

There is also strong support for U.S. alliances and agreements as well as American foreign military bases, with only modest partisan differences. Figure 6 shows bipartisan support of the U.S.’s commitment to NATO among leaders and the public, though the 10-12 point greater support among Democrats is an all-time high for that direction of partisan difference. In Figure 7, we see that 60 percent of Trump supporters want to maintain or increase the U.S.’s commitment to NATO, compared to 86 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans overall. The figure for Trump supporters is quite substantial, but is a bit more tempered than Republicans overall and is much less than the overwhelming support among Democrats.

Support for bolstering the military and military commitments is a complicated aspect of LI, in that the capacity for strong military action is important for LI, but overwhelming support can connote a readiness to back unilateral military action.  In Figure 8 majorities of both Democrats and Republicans want the U.S. to have long-term military bases in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, but there is a bit more support among all Republicans than among Democrats and Trump supporters.

There is some sign that the consensus on support for international agreements has been breaking down in certain cases. While there is still, as of 2016 as shown in Figure 9, bipartisan public support for the International Criminal Court, there has been a major divide over the lifting of sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear program (supported by 74 percent of Democrats versus 46 percent of Republicans, including Trump backers).  Support is also much greater—by about 30 percentage points—among Democrats than Republicans, including Trump supporters, for the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Environmental protection and climate change issues have long divided the parties.   Figure 10 shows the stunning partisan divergence that has occurred at the leader and mass public level from 1998 to 2014, with the increasing concern that climate change is a global threat driven fully by Democrats. In 2016 (data not shown) Democrats in the public still differed from Republicans by about 40 points (57 to 18 percent) and the reading of leaders’ differences in 2014 (Figure 10) was fully 61 points (73 to 12 percent).  We see in Figure 11 how partisan differences in public opinion widened from the days of the Kyoto Agreement issue through 2006 to the shift to a later new international agreement over subsequent years.  While Figure 12 shows bipartisan consensus in 2016 toward attaining U.S. energy independence as a very important foreign policy goal, many more Democrats than Republicans responded that improving the world’s environment and limiting climate change should be a very important policy goal, by 34 percentage points and fully 40 points, respectively.

Preventing nuclear proliferation, at least in the abstract, has long been a goal of LI that American leaders and the public have supported.  This large majority consensus through 2014 is shown in Figure 13.  But this has not extended to the Iran nuclear agreement which was met with substantial resistance by a number of Republicans but also a few prominent Democrats in the Senate when the agreement was originally debated.  Moreover, the Republican candidates were loudly critical of the Obama administration on this issue as the 2016 presidential primary campaign and debates got under way, which helped amplify the agreement as a major partisan issue. The data in Table 1, Figure 14, and Table 2 show that this, indeed, has been a strikingly partisan issue for the public.  The Gallup data in Table 1 reveal a 42-point partisan difference in 2016, and the Pew data in Figure 14 report an increasing partisan difference from 42 points to nearly 50 points in 2015, with Republicans overwhelmingly opposed to the agreement (78 percent).  Table 2 shows how Republicans have had far less confidence than Democrats in Iran’s leaders upholding the agreement and in the United States’ and international agencies’ ability to monitor the agreement. This divergence is closely associated with Republicans’ greater support for Israel (Figure 15) – an increase in support over the years that has driven an overall rise in public support for Israel. In contrast, Democrats’ opinions, though still much more supportive of Israel than the Palestinian, have remained stable.  Figure 15 shows, for the historical record, that there was no appreciable partisan difference in 1978, but a noticeable gap emerged after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which widened greatly later, to more than 30 percentage points, as Obama’s relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soured and Republican leaders were sharply at odds with Obama, to the point of Republican House Speaker John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to address directly the U.S. Congress.

Use of Diplomacy versus Military Force—Partisan Tensions but No Worse? The authors in the 2011 Roundtable acknowledged certain partisan tensions over the use of diplomacy versus military force, but the debate to an extent hinged on whether these tensions had worsened over time.  Partisan difference at the elite level toward strengthening the UN emerged more than 30 years ago and penetrated to the level of public opinion during the Bush administration after 9/11. As shown in Figure 16, however, these partisan gaps have not widened further, with Republicans remaining much less of the mind that strengthening the UN should be a very important goal of U.S. foreign policy.  It is telling that the leaders overall did not widely see strengthening the UN as a “very important” foreign policy goal – only 31 percent of Democratic leaders in 2014 compared to 50 percent of the Democratic public, with a more than 20-point lower figure for Republicans at both the elite and mass level.  Suggesting the Republicans’ greater possible support for the unilateral us of force, Figure 17 tracks the increasing partisan differences since 2000 among leaders and the public regarding whether maintaining superior military power worldwide should be a very important policy goal.  The partisan gap has been wide – around 20 points for the public and more than 30 points among leaders. Figures 18 and 19 summarize the state of partisan differences regarding the use of diplomacy versus force.  Majorities of all partisan stripes overall, including core Trump supporters in 2016, have overall seen both as very or somewhat effective toward achieving foreign policy goals, but Democrats, as shown in Figure 19, stand out as more likely than Republicans and Trumps supporters to see this for international treaties, trade agreements, strengthening the UN, and maintain existing and building new alliances.

That Republicans have become increasingly predisposed toward increasing U.S. military power is clear from other data shown in Figures 20-24.  These Pew Research Center and NORC/General Social Survey data show long term partisan differences that have very recently widened more, past 2014 into 2016, as Republicans have driven overall public opinion in the direction of greater support for increasing defense spending and U.S. military power, and greater confidence in the military.  To be sure this reflects criticism of government national defense and military policies, not criticism of the military itself, in response to perceived weaknesses and the lack of military success in Syria and Iraq, and to the threats posed by Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea.  The striking widening of the partisan gaps here in tandem with the differences in support for diplomacy poses significant tensions for LI, with the spur for this coming from the Republicans.

At the same time, however, there has been some interesting partisan convergence with Republicans, as Figures 25 and 26 show, becoming somewhat more favorable toward turning to negotiations with enemies in certain important contexts and cases. From 2008 to 2014, Republican among the public became more supportive of U.S. leaders being ready to meet and talk with leaders of the Taliban, Iran, and Hamas, with Democrats who were much more supportive of this at the start, pulling back somewhat but still holding majority support for engaging in talks. Figure 26 reveals the same for U.S. leaders being ready to meet and talk with leaders of Cuba. Noticeable partisan differences remain in most of these cases but there is less partisan disagreement than in previous years.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had evoked partisan conflict that posed complications for liberal internationalism.[154] The relevant trend data are shown in Figures 27 to 30. At leadership level the partisan battle lines remained in 2014 as shown in Figures 28 and 30, with Republican leaders much more likely to say—by fully or nearly 50 percentage points—that the wars were “worth it.” In contrast, Figures 27 and 29 show that the wide partisan differences toward these wars decreased over time as both Republicans and Democrats were less likely to view both wars as having been worth it. This convergence—to differences of 10 to 20 points—are likely due to the fact that Democrats associate these wars with Republican President Bush and the Republicans came to see these as Democratic President Obama’s wars. But this overall negative assessment of the substantial use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan, including ground troops, raised questions regarding the substantial use of largely unilateral U.S. power in the future.  As the issue of terrorism became even more pressing with the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, as shown in Figure 31, see international terrorism as a critical threat to the U.S. (with the modest partisan difference twice as large among leaders than the public).  This issue has provided renewed pressure on the U.S. to continue to use military force abroad, while it has faced new issues that pose challenges for other foreign engagements and partnerships.[155]

New Major Challenges for LI: Foreign Aid, Globalization, Trade, Refugees and Immigration. While the evidence that has been presented thus far both poses tensions for LI but also indications that it is still alive and well, new issues have arisen that provide a much less positive picture. These issues include foreign assistance, free trade, globalization more generally, the problems posed by refugees (most recently from civil war torn Syria and the region), and domestic conflict over illegal immigration to the United States, with immigrants entering through Mexico as the predominant concern.  On all of these issues the presidency of Donald Trump poses a threat for LI.

Figure 32 shows the trend in public opposition to government spending on foreign assistance. Americans’ opposition to spending more on foreign aid in the abstract has long been great. In contrast, aid to specific countries at particular times for specific purposes has received much more support.[156]  In any case, responses to this general trend question are telling, in that they show an emerging and widening partisan divergence since 1994, reaching an all-time high in 2014 of about 20 percentage points.  Figure 33 shows 15 to 20-point differences in 2016 between Democratic majority support and Republican opposition to increasing aid to developing countries, as well as increasing imports from them and investments in them.  In Figure 34, the greatest opposition to these occurred among voters who supported Trump early on, by about 25 to 40 percentage points or more depending on the issue, compared to Democratic voters.

In the case of foreign economic interactions more broadly, while Figure 35 shows an overall high level of support for “globalization” in the abstract, Democrats during the Obama years were more likely (by 15 points) than Republicans to see this as a force for good. Figure 36 indicates that this has been viewed least positively by Trump supporters (by fully 25 points less than Democrats), as might be expected given Trump’s vocal pessimism as to how the U.S. has fared in global economic and foreign aid activities. Interestingly, in Figure 37, leaders underestimate the public’s favorable opinion toward globalization, suggesting that they may feel unnecessarily constrained to the extent they give any weight to public opinion in this issue area.

Figures 38 and 39 track the reversal in partisan attitudes toward free trade. With Obama’s election and his support for new foreign trade agreements, Democrats became more positive toward free trade than Republicans.  This was apparent by 2012 and continued into 2016 in the Gallup trend data displayed in Figure 38.  The same is apparent by 2016 for Democrats greater “warmth” for NAFTA, on a 0-100 thermometer scale, than Republicans (Figure 39).  There was no partisan difference in 2003 but a striking 25-point difference, 56 to 31 percent, in 2016.  Other Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey data (not shown) found in 2016 greater support among Democrats than Republicans, also by 25 points, for Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.  Figure 40 shows further how Democrats increasingly saw international trade as good for the U.S. economy and U.S. companies, whereas Republicans became less positive and core Trump supporters have stood out as the least positive–by 20 or more points less than Democrats in 2016.  There are similar partisan differences in opinion (not shown) regarding international trade as good for consumers, for creating jobs in the U.S., for providing job security for American workers, and for one’s own standard of living.

Trump emphasized immigration as a major domestic issue in the 2016 election, focusing on illegal immigration from Mexico and emphasizing the need to increase border security and to build a “wall” on the border, as well as giving priority to finding and deporting all immigrant criminals, among others. As terrorist attacks by individuals of Mideast backgrounds magnified the threat from Islamic fundamentalists, and as the Syrian refugee crisis threatened to add to the flow of immigrants from Muslim countries, the issue of immigration was linked to the threat of terrorism. This also had broader international implications involving European countries, Turkey, and other Mideast countries that were deciding how many refugees to take in. Figure 41 shows the increasing perceptions, driven heavily by Republicans, of Islamic fundamentalism being a critical threat to the vital interests of the U.S.  On this score, Republicans differed from Democrats by 26 points in 2016, up from 18 points in 2015.

While the large number of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S. was not viewed differently at all by partisans as late as 2002, by 2016, as shown in Figure 42, Republicans were a stunning 40 points more likely than Democrats to see this as a critical threat to the U.S.  Specifically, 67 percent of Republicans held this view compared to 27 percent of Democrats, and the figure was fully 80 percent among core Trump supporters in 2016 (see Figure 43).  Figure 44 shows similar results for whether controlling and reducing immigration should be a very important foreign policy goal; Trump supporters stand out once again.  And a Pew survey in 2016 found that fully 85 percent of voters supporting Trump said that the large number of refugees was a threat to the U.S., compared to 77 percent of all Republicans and 37 percent of all Democrats.

Partisan differences in opinions toward immigration, even with the refugee issue kept aside, have become a source of conflict owing to the increased concern of Republicans in the public regarding the control and reduction of illegal immigrants as a very important foreign policy goal.  This is shown in Figure 45.  Here we also see that the partisan differences that have existed among leaders through 2014 have been muted or lessened by the fact that their concern has been declining further from the already lower levels among both Republicans and Democrats compared with their counterparts among the public.  In contrast, this concern remained high among the Republican public, 66 percent in 2015, compared to the declining concern among Democrats at 36 percent during the same year. This fully 30-point difference in 2015 compares to only a five point difference in 2002.  Figure 44, cited above, shows that the gap rose to 37 points—the difference between 68 percent among Republicans versus 31 percent among Democrats, and, again, a striking 83 percent among core Trump supporters.

That Republican leaders are out of step with the Republican public does not mean they are unaware of this difference in opinion. In fact, there is evidence that this distorts Republican leaders’ perceptions of public opinion at large concerning immigrants. Figure 46 suggests this: 60 percent of Republican leaders perceive that the public supports requiring illegal immigrants to leave their jobs and the U.S., whereas only 28 percent of the public respond that it wants this. Democratic leaders’ perceptions have this about right.  Republican leaders are very likely taking their cues from their perceptions of their fellow partisans among the public, not the citizenry writ large. The most recent CCGA elite surveys shows an increase in 2016 in Republican leaders’ concern on the immigration front: fully 52 percent of the CCGA leaders sampled responded that controlling and reducing illegal immigration was a very important policy goal, compared to 20 percent of Republican leaders in 2014 as shown in Figure 45.  In this case, these leaders appear to be responding to pressures from below, in contrast to the more typical past pattern of partisan elite conflict penetrating to the level of public opinion and increasing partisan differences there. Republican leaders have apparently been coming around to Trump’s position on immigration.


The International Security Studies Forum Roundtable in 2011 examined and debated the question, “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?” Since then the continued and increasing partisan differences in American and elite opinion toward foreign policy issues, and the positions of President Donald Trump and his supporters, pose further challenges to the United States’s pursuit of liberal internationalist policies. What has changed since 2011 is that the issues of foreign aid, trade and globalization, refugees, and immigration have to be added to the mix of issues bearing on the pursuit of LI.  Partisan difference on these issue have gotten larger, and partisan divergences already in progress in opinions toward military spending and foreign aid were not fully considered as posing possible tensions for LI.  There is also additional evidence indicating, as some of the 2011 Roundtable authors suggested, that it has been trends among Republicans that have been driving these dynamics – both leaders’ opinions and those of Republican self-identifiers among the public. President Donald Trump and his supporters have amplified these differences and increased the level of political conflict.

What can we say about the future of LI?   Has partisan conflict at the level of political leadership and the mass public undermined the pursuit of liberal internationalism in American foreign policy—a pursuit that has emphasized multilateral economic and security relations and the judicious use of military force?  Even with the increase in conflict, some of the data still show continued majority support for international institutions and the use of diplomacy—somewhat increasingly in some cases.  In this debate public opinion has become increasingly important. While the partisan divergences that have occurred in public opinion may have initially been driven largely by elite leadership—in particular by the Republican leadership affecting its partisan supporters—this opinion may now significantly constrain what leaders can do in foreign policymaking.

I have presented a wide range of data that bear on this debate, including new issues that have become highly relevant.  What emerges is a mixed picture but with forces at work with the election of President Donald Trump that are pushing against LI.[157]  While there is still noticeable underlying public support regarding liberal internationalism, there are tensions at work tied to partisan conflict and Trump’s form of saber-rattling, that has resonated with Republicans and especially with Trump’s supporters. This could constrain the effects of foreign policy voices that attempt to pursue LI, and this may make possible efforts by the Trump administration to move in a direction opposite to President Obama’s LI.  Unless, of course, ignoring these constraints, the administration itself could conceivably shift gears regarding diplomacy and deal-making–supporting existing agreements, international institutions, and alliances–which is a possibility despite the administration’s early disorganization and unpredictability, as it makes its remaining executive branch appointments and changes.  All of this and the dynamics of public opinion as it might relate to the next elections, leaves the status of LI in flux. We will know more as we see what the Trump administration says (and tweets?) and does,[158] and as the pertinent public opinion data and other evidence become available to track new developments bearing on liberal internationalism.

Appendix Figure 5Appendix Figure 6

Appendix Table 1





[1] William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming,” from The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989), https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/43290.

[2] ISSF Roundtable 2-4 on “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?,” 27 February 2011, https://issforum.org/roundtables/2-4-is-liberal-internationalism-in-decline.

[3] Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, “Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism in the United States,” International Security 32:2 (Fall 2007): 7-44, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2007.32.2.7; Stephen Chaudoin, Helen V. Milner and Dustin Tingley, “The Center Still Holds: The Potential for Liberal Internationalism Survives,” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010): 75-94, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00003; Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz. “The Illusion of Liberal Internationalism’s Revival.” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010): 95-109, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00004; Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Without Heirs? Assessing the Decline of Establishment Internationalism in U.S. Foreign Policy,” Perspectives on Politics 6:3 (September 2008): 451-472, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S153759270808122X; Busby and Monten, “Republican Elites and Foreign Policy Attitudes,” Political Science Quarterly 127:1 (Spring 2012): 105-142, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1538-165X.2012.tb00722.x.

[4] Robert Keohane, “Reciprocity in International Relations,” International Organization 40:1 (Winter 1986): 1-27, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818300004458.

[5] Eugene R. Wittkopf, Faces of Internationalism: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990).

[6] Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Without Heirs? Assessing the Decline of Establishment Internationalism in U.S. Foreign Policy,” Perspectives on Politics 6:3 (2008): 451-472. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S153759270808122X.

[7] Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Republican Elites and Foreign Policy Attitudes,” Political Science Quarterly 127:1 (2012): 105-142. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1538-165X.2012.tb00722.x.

[8] Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Off-Center: Misplaced Emphases in Debates about Liberal Internationalism” in H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 2:4 on “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?,” 27 February 2011, 6-14. https://issforum.org/roundtables/2-4-is-liberal-internationalism-in-decline.

[9] For a review of Trump’s views, see Thomas Wright, “Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy,” Politico, January 20, 2016, http://politi.co/1Jjdhxy; see also the forthcoming Thomas Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the Twenty-First Century and the Future of American Power (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

[10] Gregor Aisch, Adam Pearce, and Bryant Rousseau, “How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?” New York Times, 5 December 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/22/world/europe/europe-right-wing-austria-hungary.html.

[11] We were inspired by a tweet from Paul Musgrave for this formulation. https://twitter.com/profmusgrave/status/811697475698429953, 21 December 2016 (2:18 pm): “The most troubling thing about 2016 is that it has revealed how many norms I thought were rooted in mass preferences were just elite pacts.”

[12] See Ronald R. Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015). Krebs might disagree about how long this dominant Cold War narrative endured.

[13] Brian C. Rathbun, “Was There Ever a Bipartisan Ideological Consensus?” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011): 32–35.

[14] Joshua Busby et al., “How the Elite Misjudge the U.S. Electorate on International Engagement,” RealClearWorld, 8 November 2016, http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/11/07/how_the_elite_misjudge_the_us_electorate_on_international_engagement_112112.html.

[15] Joshua W. Busby, Jonathan Monten, and William Inboden, “American Foreign Policy Is Already Post-Partisan,” Foreign Affairs, 30 May 2012, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137669/joshua-w-busby-jonathan-monten-and-william-inboden/american-foreign-policy-is-already-post-partisan.

[16] Busby, Monten, and Inboden, “American Foreign Policy is Already Post-Partisan.”.

[17] Joshua W. Busby et al., “Congress Is Already Post-Partisan,” Foreign Affairs, 28 January 2013, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138791/joshua-w-busby-jonathan-monten-jordan-tama-and-william-inboden/congress-is-already-post-partisan.

[18] Dina Smeltz et al., “United On Goals, Divided by Means: Opinion Leaders Chicago Council Survey Results 2014” (Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2015), http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/united-goals-divided-means.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid, 16. Chart in full PDF version of report at https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/2014%20Chicago%20Council%20Opinion%20Leaders%20Survey%20Report_FINAL.pdf.

[21] The public survey is discussed in more detail in Dina Smeltz et al., “2016 Chicago Council Survey: America in the Age of Uncertainty” (Chicago Council on Global Affairs, October 2016), https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/blog/running-numbers/2016-chicago-council-survey-america-age-uncertainty.

[22] Busby et al., “How the Elite Misjudge the U.S. Electorate on International Engagement.”

[23] Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura, “US Opinion Leaders Tend to Respond to Vocal Minorities among the Public” (blog post), 10 November 2016, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/blog/running-numbers/us-leaders-vocal-minoities-international-engagement-globalization.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Busby and Monten, “Republican Elites and Foreign Policy Attitudes.”

[26] Doug Palmer, “POLITICO-Harvard Poll: Americans Say ‘TPP Who?,’” POLITICO, 23 September 2016, http://politi.co/2cNCpQf.

[27] Busby et al., “How the Elite Misjudge the U.S. Electorate on International Engagement.”

[28] Alexandra Guisinger and Elizabeth Saunders, “Mapping the Boundaries of Elite Cues: How Elites Shape Mass Opinion Across International Issues,” International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming.

[29] Allan Smith, “There’s Been a Breathtaking Swing in Putin’s Popularity among Republicans in the Trump Era,” Business Insider, 14 December 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-poll-favorability-trump-2016-12; Liam Quinn, “Putin’s Popularity among Republicans Skyrockets to New Highs,” Daily Mail, 15 December 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/~/article-4038362.

[30] Between April 2016 and January 2017, the percentage of Democrats/Lean Democrats who said Russia was a major threat increased 30 percentage points from 37 to 67%. Pew Research Center For The People & The Press, “The World Facing Trump: Public Sees ISIS, Cyberattacks, North Korea as Top Threats,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 12 January 2017, http://www.people-press.org/2017/01/12/the-world-facing-trump-public-sees-isis-cyberattacks-north-korea-as-top-threats/.

[31] Benjamin Oreskes, “POLITICO-Harvard Poll: Amid Trump’s Rise, GOP Voters Turn Sharply Away from Free Trade,” POLITICO, 24 September 2016, http://politi.co/2crrqJp; Palmer, “POLITICO-Harvard Poll.”

[32] See https://twitter.com/williamjordann/status/809069737879674888/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw (14 December 2016): “Here is Republicans and Democrats on Vladimir Putin since July 2014. pic.twitter.com/s4I6FY5cbt

[33] Chris Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Broadway Books, 2012); these themes were originally explored in an essay Tom Nichols, “The Death Of Expertise,” The Federalist, 17 January 2014, http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/.

[34] CNN, “2016 Election Results: Exit Polls,” 23 November 2016, http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls.

[35] Uri Friedman, “Did Foreign Policy Matter in the 2012 Election?,” Foreign Policy, 7 November 2012, http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/11/07/did-foreign-policy-matter-in-the-2012-election/

[36] David Paul Kuhn, “Exit Polls: Economy Top Issue,” POLITICO, 5 November 2008, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15270.html.

[37] David Moore, “Moral Values Important in the 2004 Exit Polls,” Gallup, 7 December 2004, http://www.gallup.com/poll/14275/moral-values-important-2004-exit-polls.aspx.

[38] If we extend our concept of foreign policy to include issues like immigration, Donald Trump appears to have been advantaged.

[39] John Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Gabriel S. Lenz, Follow the Leader?: How Voters Respond to Politicians’ Policies and Performance (Chicago and London: University Of Chicago Press, 2012); Adam J. Berinsky, In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

[40] Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the Twenty-First Century and the Future of American Power, 224.

[41] On growing partisan polarization around foreign policy issues, see Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, “Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism in the United States,” International Security 32:2 (Fall 2007): 7-44, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2007.32.2.7; Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Foreign Policy, Meet the People,” The National Interest 97 (September/October 2008): 37-42; and Jack Snyder, Robert Y. Shapiro, and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Free Hand Abroad, Divide and Rule at Home,” World Politics 61:1 (January 2009): 155-187, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0043887109000069.

[42] Randall Schweller,”A Third-Image Explanation for Why Trump Now: A Response to Robert Jervis’s ‘President Trump and IR Theory”, H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Series, 8 February 2017, https://issforum.org/roundtables/policy/1-5m-third-image; John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior U.S. Grand Strategy,” Foreign Affairs 95:4 (July/August 2016); Barry R. Posen, “Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs 92:1 (January/February 2013), 121, 125.

[43] Phillip Stephens, “Trump presidency: America First or America Alone?” Financial Times, 10 January 2017. https://www.ft.com/content/ae092214-d36f-11e6-b06b-680c49b4b4c0.

[44] For a similarly structured argument, see Robert Jervis, “President Trump and IR Theory,” H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Series, 2 January 2017, http://issforum.org/roundtables/policy/1-5B-Jervis.

[45] Stephen Chaudoin, Helen V. Milner, and Dustin Tingley, “The Center Still Holds: The Potential for Liberal Internationalism Survives.” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010): 75-94, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00003; Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley, “The Contested State of U.S. Foreign Policy: Liberal Internationalism and American Politics” in H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011): 15-31, https://issforum.org/roundtables/2-4-is-liberal-internationalism-in-decline; Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, “Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism in the United States,” International Security 32: 2 (Fall 2007): 7-44, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2007.32.2.7; Kupchan and Trubowitz, “The Illusion of Liberal Internationalism’s Revival.” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010): 95-109, , DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00004; Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Off-Center: Misplaced Emphases in Debates about Liberal Internationalism” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011): 6-14; Brian C. Rathbun, “Was There Ever a Bipartisan Ideological Consensus?” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011): 32-35.

[46] See, for example, Brian C. Rathbun, “Was There Ever a Bipartisan Ideological Consensus?” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011): 32-35.

[47] Helen V. Milner and Dustin Tingley, Sailing the Water’s Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).

[48] John G. Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012). See also John G. Ikenberry, “Liberal internationalism 3.0: America and the dilemmas of liberal world order,” Perspectives on Politics 7:1 (March 2009): 71-87, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592709090112.

[49] Roger Cohen, “Pax Americana Is Over,” New York Times, 16 December 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/opinion/trumps-chinese-foreign-policy.html.

[50] Erik Voeten, “Where is U.S. Multilateral Leadership?” (paper presented at the Political Economy of Emerging Market Countries, Princeton University Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Georgetown University India Intiative, and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, Shantiniketan, and New Delhi, India, 30 December 2016-7 January 2017), http://ncgg-new.princeton.edu/file/291/download?token=zkXhN0n2.

[51] “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline?” ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011), https://issforum.org/roundtables/2-4-is-liberal-internationalism-in-decline.

[52] Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, “The Illusion of Liberal Internationalism’s Revival,” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010), 104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00004.

[53] Obama signed the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement on October 21, 2011. In addition, the U.S. concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 countries in October 2015 and has continued on-going negotiations with the European Union over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). During his administration, the U.S. also ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in January 2015, finalized a new version of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) in December 2015, and participates in ongoing discussions around the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). See Office of the United States Trade Representative. “Free Trade Agreements,” https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements and Mary A. Irace and Rebecca M. Nelson, International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 115th Congress, 21 December 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44717.pdf.

[54] Chaudoin, Milner, and Tingley, “The Center Still Holds,” 30.

[55] David Greenberg, “The Burden of One-Party Government,” Wall Street Journal, 21 January 2017. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-burden-of-one-party-government-1484932621.

[56] Milner and Tingley, Sailing the Water’s Edge.

[57] For an opposite prediction, see Daron Acemoglu, “We are the Last Defense against Trump,” Foreign Policy, 18 January 2017. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/18/we-are-the-last-defense-against-trump-institutions/.

[58] Jacob L. Shapiro, “The American President’s Power over NAFTA,” Geopolitical Futures, 9 September 2016. https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-american-presidents-power-over-nafta/.

[59] Committee on Arrangements for the 2016 Republican National Convention, Republican Platform 2016, 2-3, https://prod-cdn-static.gop.com/static/home/data/platform.pdf.

[60] On the importance of trade and trade agreements to the U.S. economy, see Chad P. Bown “The Truth about Trade Agreements—and Why We Need Them,” Peterson Institute for International Affairs, 21 November 2016, https://piie.com/commentary/op-eds/truth-about-trade-agreements-and-why-we-need-them.

[61] Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC, Trade and American Jobs: The Impact of Trade on U.S. and State-Level Employment: 2016 Update, January 2016, http://tradepartnership.com/reports/trade-and-american-jobs-the-impact-of-trade-on-u-s-and-state-level-employment-update-2016/.

[62] American Farm Bureau Federation, “Fast Facts about Agriculture,” http://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts. On the consequences of proposed trade policies on U.S. agricultural exports, see “Trade Punishment for Trump Voters,” The Wall Street Journal, 9 February 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-punishment-for-trump-voters-1486686758.

[63] Republican Platform 2016, 3.

[64] “Donald Trump’s Presidency is About to Hit Mexico,” The Economist, 14 January 2017, http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21714397-protectionist-entering-white-house-mexico-ponders-its-options-donald-trumps.

[65] Rob Cook, “States That Produce The Most Corn,” Beef2Live, http://beef2live.com/story-states-produce-corn-0-107129.

[66] “Donald Trump’s Mexico-bashing hurts American interests too,” Financial Times, 18 January 2017. https://www.ft.com/content/434e7c5e-dd73-11e6-9d7c-be108f1c1dce.

[67] “U.S. Apple Production and Utilization, by State, 1980-2010,” USDA, http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1825.

[68] “Iowa,” The U.S.-China Business Council, https://www.uschina.org/reports/us-exports/iowa.

[69] “Iowa GDP,” Department of Numbers, http://www.deptofnumbers.com/gdp/iowa/.

[70] Edward Alden, “The Roots of Trump’s Trade Rage: The Davos set ignored the warning signs for years. Now, the global elites are rightly worried about what comes next,” Politico, 16 January 2017, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/the-roots-of-trumps-trade-rage-214639?cmpid=sf.

[71] Boeing, “Employment Data,” http://www.boeing.com/company/general-info/.

[72] Patrick Gillespie, “Republican Senator Aims to Curtail Trump’s Tariff Power,” CNN Money, 13 January 2017, http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/13/news/economy/trump-trade-senator-mike-lee/index.htm.

[73] Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin, and Maggie Haberman, “Donald Trump Vows Retaliation as Republicans Abandon Him,” New York Times, 9 October 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/us/politics/republicans-trump.html.

[74] Lindsey McPherson, “Ryan Bucks Trump, Says Congress Will Not Raise Tariffs: Speakers Comment Breaks from President-Elect’s Promise to Impose ‘Border Tax’,” Roll Call, 4 January 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/ryan-bucks-trump-says-congress-will-not-raising-tariffs.

[75] Max Ehrenfreund, “Why Wall Street Still Isn’t Taking Donald Trump Seriously,” Washington Post, 9 December 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/09/why-wall-street-still-isnt-taking-donald-trump-seriously/.

[76] Spokesman Spicer’s actual intent is unclear; many think his remarks were about corporate tax reform. However, they were widely reported as a 20% tariff on Mexican imports.

[77] Helene Cooper, “Trump Team’s Queries about Africa Point to Skepticism About Aid,” New York Times, 13 January 2017.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/13/world/africa/africa-donald-trump.html.

[78] George Ingram, “Congress Finds Bipartisan Support for Foreign Aid and Aid Reform,” Brookings Institute, 11 July 2016, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2016/07/11/congress-finds-bipartisan-support-for-foreign-aid-and-aid-reform/.

[79] David Francis, John Hudson, Dan De Luce, “Will Foreign Aid Get Cut on Trump’s Chopping Block,” Foreign Policy, 23 November 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/23/will-foreign-aid-get-cut-on-trumps-chopping-block/.

[80] Republican Platform 2016, 52.

[81] Sarah Blodgett Bermeo and David Leblang, “Foreign Interests: Immigration and the Political Economy of Foreign Aid,” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Political Economy Society, College Station, Texas, 13-14 November 2009). https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e025/d301ac0dac2a2e7ec09c8950dd88a7fffddf.pdf.

[82] OECD, “Untying Aid: The Right to Choose,” http://www.oecd.org/development/untyingaidtherighttochoose.htm.

[83] Asma Khalid, “Latinos Will Never Vote For a Republican, And Other Myths About Hispanics From 2016,” NPR, 22 December 2016, http://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506347254/latinos-will-never-vote-for-a-republican-and-other-myths-about-hispanics-from-20.

[84] “GOP Prescription of Minority Outreach Forgotten With Trump,” Associated Press, 18 January 2017, http://wtop.com/dc/2017/01/gop-prescription-of-minority-outreach-forgotten-with-trump/.

[85] Of note is the fact that immigrants prefer increased immigration. Andrew Dugan, “U.S. Support for Increased Immigration Up to 25%,” Gallup, 10 August 2015, http://www.gallup.com/poll/184529/support-increased-immigration.aspx

[86] “GOP Prescription of Minority Outreach Forgotten With Trump.”

[87] Josh Dawsey and Tara Palmeri, “Trump Under Pressure to Pick a Hispanic for His Cabinet,” Politico, 21 January 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/donald-trump-hispanics-gingrich-cabinet-232907.

[88] Patrick Thibodeau, “Trump Turns to H-1B Advocates for Advice,” InfoWorld, 19 January 2017. http://www.infoworld.com/article/3159075/h1b/trump-turns-to-h-1b-advocates-for-advice.html.

[89] Nick Gass, “Trump softens opposition to H1B visas,” Politico, 3 March 2016, http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/trump-immigration-h1b-visas-gop-debate-220233.

[90] Philip Bump, “Do Americans support Trump’s immigration action? Depends on who’s asking, and how,” Washington Post, 2 February 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/02/02/do-americans-support-trumps-immigration-action-depends-on-whos-asking-and-how/.

[91] The other countries were: Great Britain, France, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, India, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.  Matthew Smith, “International Survey: Globalisation is Still Seen as a Force for Good in the World,” YouGov, 17 November 2016, https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/11/17/international-survey. A 2015 Pew survey showed similar results on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, with more Americans who expressed support for the agreement than not. Travis Mitchell. “2015 U.S.-Germany Survey Data,” Pew Research Center, 1 March 2015, http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/03/01/2015-u-s-germany-survey-data/.

[92] Kavitha Surana, “America Actually Likes Immigrants and a Global Role, Survey Finds,” Foreign Policy 8 December 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/12/08/america-actually-likes-immigrants-and-a-global-role-survey-finds-trump-populism/; Dina Smeltz, Ivo H. Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, and Craig Kafura, “America in the Age of Uncertainty,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 6 October 2016, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/america-age-uncertainty.

[93] For one analytical approach to the relationship between the pressures of the international system and individual states’ policy choices, see Stephen Chaudoin, Helen V. Milner, and Xun Pang, “International Systems and Domestic Politics: Linking Complex Theories with Empirical Models in International Relations,” International Organization 69:2 (Spring 2015): 275-309, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818314000356.

[94] George Parker, “Theresa May to emphasise value of EU and Nato to Trump,” Financial Times, 21 January 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/4c0781b8-df37-11e6-9d7c-be108f1c1dce.

[95] Randall W. Stone, “The Scope of IMF Conditionality,” International Organization 62:4 (Fall 2008), 589-620, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818308080211; Stone, “The Political Economy of IMF Lending in Africa,” American Political Science Review 98:4 (November 2004): 577-591, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S000305540404136X.

[96] John G. Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).

[97] Helen V. Milner and Dustin Tingley, “The choice for multilateralism: Foreign aid and American foreign policy,” The Review of International Organizations 8:3 (2013): 313-341, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-012-9153-x.

[98] Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, “Competition and Collaboration in Aid-for-Policy Deals,” International Studies Quarterly 60:3 (2016): 413-426, https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqw011.

[99] Abraham Newman and Daniel Nexon, “Trump says American allies should spend more on defense. Here’s why he’s wrong.” Vox, 16 February 2017. http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/2/16/14635204/burden-sharing-allies-nato-trump.

[100] Glenn Kessler, “Trump’s Claim that the U.S. Pays the ‘Lion’s Share’ for NATO,” Washington Post, 30 March 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/03/30/trumps-claim-that-the-u-s-pays-the-lions-share-for-nato/.

[101] We assume Trump does not want the U.S economy to decline while other foreign country economies improve in order to get the United States to directly contribute less to NATO, and other countries to contribute more to NATO.

[102] Trump has indicated a desire to negotiate other things that relate to NATO, such as European countries spending more on their militaries in general. We suspect to see not a pivot away from NATO but a recalibration, though the extent of this calibration will depend on how and whether relations with Russia change and the willingness of European partners to go along with it, we suspect. See “Donald J. Trump Foreign Policy Speech,” Trump Pence 2016, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-foreign-policy-speech.

[103] Put differently, how easy it will be to remain the #1 arms dealer in the world without an active role in alliances and fulfilling treaty commitments, and international engagement writ large. And it is an open question if the American people are willing to stomach the sales of these arms to often less than liberal regimes if there are not liberal principles at least guiding U.S. foreign policy. And while the arms trade might be an industry that many U.S. citizens oppose, it is a source of many U.S. jobs. Walk away from our overseas alliance commitments and watch those jobs be lost to other suppliers. See Thom Shanker, “U.S. Sold $40 Billion in Weapons in 2015, Topping the Global Market,” The New York Times, 26 December 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/us/politics/united-states-global-weapons-sales.html.

[104] It is unclear what lessons the Trump administration will draw from this experience. Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Commerce, advocated strongly for the Bush steel tariffs. See David Iaconangelo, “Why Wilbur Ross could have the toughest job in Trump’s cabinet,” The Christian Science Monitor, 18 January 2017, http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2017/0118/Why-Wilbur-Ross-could-have-the-toughest-job-in-Trump-s-cabinet.

[105] For example, in the U.S., the imported intermediate input content of exports reached more than 12% by 2011. “Trade Input-Output Tables,” OECD,  http://www.oecd.org/trade/input-outputtables.htm. See also Lindsay Oldenski, “Reshoring by US Firms: What do the Data Say?” Peterson Institute for International Economics Policy Brief, no. PB15-14: 2. https://piie.com/sites/default/files/publications/pb/pb15-14.pdf.

[106] Sri Jegarajah, “Boeing and Beans on China’s Blacklist if US Trade Tensions Worsen,” CNBC, 20 January 2017, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/20/boeing-and-beans-on-chinas-blacklist-if-us-trade-tensions-worsen.html.

[107] During the meeting, Trump told executives: “We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There’s nobody like you in the world…Anything we can do to help this go along, we’re going to be there for you…You call my people, you call me. It doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.” Jack Nicas and Rolfe Winkler, “Donald Trump Strikes Conciliatory Tone in Meeting with Tech Executives,” The Wall Street Journal, 14 December 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/top-tech-execs-to-meet-trump-to-talk-jobs-regulations-1481724004.

[108] J. Bradford Jensen, “Importers are Exporters: Tariffs Would Hurt Our Most Competitive Firms,” Peterson Institute for International Economics Trade & Investment Policy Watch, 7 December 2016, https://piie.com/blogs/trade-investment-policy-watch/importers-are-exporters-tariffs-would-hurt-our-most-competitive.

[109] Andrew B. Bernard, J. Bradford Jensen, Stephen J. Redding, and Peter K. Schott, “Global Firms,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 22727 (October 2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.3386/w22727.

[110] Indeed, some research looks at how countries use one tool of Liberal Internationalism, foreign aid, to help stem the demand for immigration. Sarah Blodgett Bermeo and David Leblang, “Migration and foreign aid.” International Organization 69:3 (Summer 2015): 627-657, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818315000119. The implication for the current context is that pulling away from LI will just exacerbate some of the same problems the Trump administration wants to address.

[111] Perry, at least, has backed off his climate change denial in his confirmation hearing. See Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici, “Trump’s Energy Pick Perry Softens Stance on Climate Change,” Reuters, 19 January 2017. https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-energy-pick-face-jobs-climate-questions-120142477–finance.html.

[112] “Hillary Clinton’s Plan for Combatting Climate Change and Making America the Clean Energy Superpower of the 21st Century,” Hillary for America, https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2016/10/10/hillary-clintons-plan-for-combatting-climate-change-and-making-america-the-clean-energy-superpower-of-the-21st-century/.

[113] James Stewart, “Elon Musk Has Trump’s Ear, and Wall Street Takes Note,” The New York Times, 26 January 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/business/elon-musk-donald-trump-wall-street.html.

[114] “China leads as green energy investment plans hit record high,” Reuters, 24 March 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-renewables-investment-idUSKCN0WQ1IU.

[115] Justin Gillis, “Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback,” The New York Times, 2 January 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/science/donald-trump-global-warming.html.

[116] Climate CoLab, “2020 Cities By 2020: America’s Mayors Taking Charge On Climate Change,” Climate CoLab, http://climatecolab.org/plans/-/plans/contests/2015/united-states-climate-action-plan/c/proposal/1323518. See also, Jeff Biggers, “Cities and States Lead on Climate Change,” The New York Times, 30 November 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/opinion/cities-and-states-lead-on-climate-change.html; Bernadette Ballantyne, “Cities are Stepping up Climate Change Efforts C40 Summit Reveals,” Infrastructure Intelligence, 6 February 2014, http://www.infrastructure-intelligence.com/article/feb-2014/cities-are-stepping-climate-change-efforts-c40-summit-reveals.

[117] “Theatrical Premiere: The Age of Consequences,” The Center for Climate & Security: Exploring the Security Risks of Climate Change, https://climateandsecurity.org/; U.S. Department of Defense, National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate, 23 July 2015, http://archive.defense.gov/pubs/150724-congressional-report-on-national-implications-of-climate-change.pdf.

[118] Allison Kopicki, “Is Global Warming Real? Most Americans Say Yes,” The New York Times, 1 June 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/02/upshot/is-global-warming-real-most-in-US-believe-in-climate-change.html; Jon A. Krosnick, “The Climate Majority,” The New York Times, 8 June 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/opinion/09krosnick.html; Matto Mildenberger and Dustin Tingley, “Beliefs about Climate Beliefs: Second-Order Opinions in the Climate Domain,” Working Paper, http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dtingley/files/climatebeliefs_distribution.pdf; Tingley and Michael Tomz, “Conditional Cooperation and Climate Change,” Comparative Political Studies 47:3 (2014): 344-368.

[119] Bob Inglis and Arthur B. Laffer, “An Emissions Plan Conservatives Could Warm To,” The New York Times, 27 December 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/opinion/28inglis.html; “Conservatives,” Carbon Tax Center,  https://www.carbontax.org/conservatives/; James A. Baker, III, Henry M. Paulson, Jr,. Martin Feldstein, George P. Shultz, Ted Halstead, Thomas Stephenson, N. Gregory Mankiw, and Rob Walton, The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends, Climate Leadership Council, 2017, https://www.clcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/TheConservativeCaseforCarbonDividends.pdf.

[120] Nuclear Energy Institute, “Clinton, Trump Both Support Nuclear Energy,” 19 October 2016, https://www.nei.org/News-Media/News/News-Archives/Clinton,-Trump-Both-Support-Nuclear-Energy; “Trump, Clinton, Johnson and Stein’s Views on America’s Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016,” Science Debate, http://sciencedebate.org/20answers. Donald Trump sees his support for nuclear energy through the lens of energy independence. “It should be the goal of the American people and their government to achieve energy independence as soon as possible. Energy independence means exploring and developing every possible energy source including wind, solar, nuclear and bio-fuels.”

[121] Committee on Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Ocean Studies Board Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council. Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration (Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2015); David Keith, A Case for Climate Engineering (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013).

[122] Lindsay Iversen, “Climate Change and U.S. Leadership Under President Trump,” Council on Foreign Relations, http://blogs.cfr.org/sivaram/2016/11/15/climate-change-and-u-s-leadership-under-president-trump/.

[123] Helen V. Milner, Interests, institutions, and information: Domestic politics and international relations (Princeton University Press, 1997).

[124] Claire Cain Miller, “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation,” The New York Times, 21 December 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/upshot/the-long-term-jobs-killer-is-not-china-its-automation.html. Andrew F. Puzder, Mr. Trump’s first pick for labor secretary and chief executive of CKE Restaurants, in an interview with Business Insider about employees “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case” Kate Taylor. “Fast-food CEO says he’s investing in machines because the government is making it difficult to afford employees,” Business Insider, 16 March 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/carls-jr-wants-open-automated-location-2016-3; Federica Cocco, “Most US Manufacturing Jobs Lost to Technology, Not Trade,” Financial Times, 2 December 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/dec677c0-b7e6-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62; Douglas A. Irwin, “The Truth About Trade: What Critics Get Wrong About the Global Economy,” Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2016). https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-06-13/truth-about-trade.

[125] “Finance Committee Republicans Warn President of Opposition to Including TAA in Korea Trade Agreement,” United States Senate Committee on Finance, 30 June 2011, https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/06-30-2011.pdf; Jonathan Weisman, “House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal,” The New York Times, 12 June 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/13/us/politics/obamas-trade-bills-face-tough-battle-against-house-democrats.html.

[126]John Gerard Ruggie, “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,” International Organization 36:2 (1982): 379-415, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818300018993.

[127] Qucotrung Bui, “40 Years of Income Inequality, In Graphs,” NPR, 2 October 2014, http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/02/349863761/40-years-of-income-inequality-in-america-in-graphs.

[128] Kate Taylor, “The Manufacturer that Trump Convinced to Keep 1,000 Jobs in the US is Raising Prices,” Business Insider, 5 December 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/carrier-raises-prices-after-trump-deal-2016-12.

[129] Carol Hymowitz, “American Firms Want to Keep Older Workers a Bit Longer,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 16 December 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-16/american-firms-want-to-keep-older-workers-a-bit-longer.

[130] See also “Trump presidency: America First or America Alone?”; David Brooks. “The Internal Invasion,” The New York Times, 20 January 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/opinion/the-internal-invasion.html.

[131] Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz, “The Illusion of Liberal Internationalism’s Revival,” International Security 35:1 (Summer 2010): 95-109, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00004.

[132] Mark Landler, Peter Baker, and David E. Sanger, “Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy,” The New York Times, 2 February 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/world/middleeast/iran-missile-test-trump.html

[133] Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, “More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.,” Pew Research Center 19 November 2015, http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/11/19/more-mexicans-leaving-than-coming-to-the-u-s/.

[134] Brian C. Rathbun (2012). Trust in International Cooperation: International Security Institutions, Domestic Politics and American Multilateralism (Cambridge University Press).

[135] Stephen M. Walt, “No, @realDonaldTrump Is Not a Realist,” Foreign Policy, 1 April 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/01/no-realdonaldtrump-is-not-a-realist/

[136] Brian C. Rathbun, Joshua D. Kertzer, and Mark Paradis. “Homo Diplomaticus: Mixed-Method Evidence of Variation in Strategic Rationality.” International Organization. 2017. Forthcoming paper can be found at http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~jkertzer/.

[137] Barry Posen. Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015).

[138] Acknowledgments: I want to thank Robert Jervis and Jack Snyder for comments, and Sarah Binder for the latest update to her data on the extent of legislative gridlock in domestic and foreign policy. I am grateful to The Pew Research Center, Gallup, and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for permission to use their opinion trend graphs and tables.  I also thank the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) for this, as well as access to their latest public and elite opinion trend data, including the CCGA and Texas National Security Network 2016 Leaders Survey. The most recent opinion data for the 2016 leaders sample are not included in the figure below, but they do not alter overall findings and conclusions reported here.  I benefitted from communications at these organizations with Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura, Claudia Deane, Frank Newport, and Anna Greenberg. Other data and some of the analysis here have come out of my collaborative work with Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, Brigitte Nacos, Anja Kilibarda, Oliver McClellan, and Sofi Sinozich.  I am responsible for all of the discussion and interpretations offered here.

[139] Robert Jervis, “Is Liberal Internationalism in Decline? Introduction” in H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 2:4, 27 February 2011, 2-5, https://issforum.org/roundtables/2-4-is-liberal-internationalism-in-decline; Joshua Busby and Jonathan Monten, “Off-Center: Misplaced Emphases in Debates about Liberal Internationalism” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011), 6-14; Stephen Chaudoin, Helen Milner, and Dustin Tingley, “The Contested State of U.S. Foreign Policy: Liberal Internationalism and American Politics” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011), 15-31; and Brian Rathbun, “Was There Ever a Bipartisan Ideological Consensus?” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011), 32-35.

[140] Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon. 2007. “Ideological Partisanship and American Public Opinion toward Foreign Policy,” in Morton H. Halperin, Jeffrey Laurenti, Peter Rundlet, and Spencer P. Boyer, eds. Power and Superpower: Global Leadership and Exceptionalism in the 21st Century (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2007), 49-68; Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Foreign Policy, Meet the People,” The National Interest 97 (September-October 2008): 37-42. Jack Snyder, Robert Y. Shapiro, and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Free Hand Abroad, Divide and Rule at Home,” World Politics 51 (January 2009): 155-187, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0043887109000069; Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Political Polarization and the Rational Public,” Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 18-21 May 2006.

[141] Joseph Bafumi and Robert Y. Shapiro, “A New Partisan Voter,” Journal of Politics 71:1 (January 2009): 1-24, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022381608090014.

[142] For example, see the following and the works that they cite: Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, and Howard Rosenthal, Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006); Geoffrey C. Layman, Thomas M. Carsey, and Juliana Menasce Horowitz, “Party Polarization in American Politics: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences,” Annual Review of Political Science 9 (2006): 83-110, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.9.070204.105138; Matthew Levendusky, The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Republicans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); Matthew Levendusky, How Partisan Media Polarize America. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, It’s Even Worse than it Looks (New York: Basic Books, 2012); Markus Prior, Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2007); Morris P. Fiorina with Samuel J. Abrams, Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics. (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2009); and Morris P. Fiorina with Samuel J. Abrams and Jeremy C. Pope, Culture Wars? The Myth of Polarized America., third edition (New York: Pearson Longman, 2011).

[143] Sarah Binder, “Polarized We Govern” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Effective Public Management, The Brookings Institution, 2014).

[144] While this has been associated with partisanship in the past, it has been heightened by the pervasiveness of ideological conflict and both parties being closely matched for control of the presidency and Congress, which has made unified partisan government more likely than in the past. See Robert Y. Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, “Do the Facts Speak for Themselves? Partisan Disagreement as a Challenge to Democratic Competence,” Critical Review 20:1-2 (2008): 115-139, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08913810802316373; cf. Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans’ Policy Preferences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

[145] See Charles Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, “Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism in the United States,” International Security 32:2 (Fall 2007): 7-44, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2007.32.2.7; Brian Rathbun, “Was There Ever a Bipartisan Ideological Consensus?” in ISSF Roundtable 2:4 (2011), 32-35.

[146] Cf. Kupchan and Trubowitz, “Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism”; Snyder, Shapiro, and Bloch-Elkon, “Free Hand Abroad.”

[147] Busby and Monten, “Off Center,” 6-7.

[148] Kupchan and Trubowitz, “Dead Center.”

[149] Chaudion, Milner, and Tingley, “The Contested State of U.S. Foreign Policy,” 30.

[150] Sarah Binder, “Polarized We Govern” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Effective Public Management, The Brookings Institution, 2014); Sarah Binder, “Personal Communication,” 12 December 2016.

[151] Robert Y. Shapiro, “The Uncertain Legacy of Barack Obama ’83,” Columbia College Today (Winter 2016-2017), 24-27.

[152] Busby and Monten, 17.

[153] Randall Schweller, “A Third Image Explanation for Why Trump Now: A Response to Robert Jervis’s ‘President Trump and IR Theory’,” H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Series 1-5M, 8 February 2017, http://issforum.org/roundtables/policy/1-5M-third-image.

[154] Cf. Kupchan and Trubowitz, “Dead Center.”

[155] See Peter Trubowitz, “Domestic Politics, Transatlantic Leadership, and Liberal World Order.”  Dahrendorf Berlin Conference, Europe-North American Working Group. December 2015.

[156] Page and Shapiro, The Rational Public, Chapters 5-6.

[157] Schweller, “A Third Image Explanation for Why Trump Now”; Busby and Monten, “Has Liberal Internationalism Been Trumped?”

[158] Cf. Bear Braumoeller and Bruce Russett, “Trump’s tweets can be a distraction, but do they signal a real threat to international institutions?” Monkey Cage/Analysis, The Washington Post, 18 January 2017.