HKS Authors

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Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus


Donald Trump’s proclamation of “America first” is a repudiation of Woodrow Wilson. Granted, some scholars who are not sympathetic to Trump believe that the Wilsonian tradition has been a trap for the United States. The distinguished University of Chicago scholar John Mearsheimer has recently argued that states that embrace liberal hegemony invariably get into serious trouble because liberalism has an activist mentality woven into its core. He cites George W. Bush, who said in a 2003 speech: “From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle… And we believe that freedom – the freedom we prize – is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.” The result, says Mearsheimer, is that the U.S. has been at war for two out of every three years since 1989, fighting seven different wars in total. In his view, a liberal foreign policy is not a formula for cooperation and peace, but for instability and conflict.


Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "A Time for Positive Sum Power." The Wilson Quarterly (Fall 2018).