When Is U.S. Foreign Policy Strongest?

Realism in foreign policy reflects a messy, dangerous world where too little can be distilled into clear-cut moral absolutes, and thus national interest takes precedence over universal values. Nevertheless, a world ravaged by war, migration, refugee flows, and a demand for dignity across ethnic, religious, and racial lines requires a morally sustainable foreign policy rooted in idealism. Yet realism and idealism can work together. The American diplomatic tradition at its best has employed humanitarianism as a complement to power politics; not as an opponent of it. This all has profound consequences for our great power competition with China and Russia today, and for how the Biden Administration will deal with it.

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