The False Promise of Liberal Order: Nostalgia, Delusion and the Rise of Trump

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In an age of demagogues, hostile great powers and trade wars, foreign policy traditionalists dream of restoring liberal international order. This order, they claim, ushered in seventy years of peace and prosperity and saw post-war America domesticate the world to its values. "The False Promise of Liberal Order" exposes the flaws in this nostalgic vision. International life is too dangerous and conflicted to be ordered liberally, and the world America made came about as a result of coercion and, sometimes brutal, compromise. To make peace, America struck bargains with authoritarian forces. Even in the Pax Americana, the gentlest order yet, ordering was rough work. Overstriving to spread capitalist democracy abroad led inadvertently to illiberal results, threatening democracy at home. As its power grew, Washington came to believe that its order was exceptional and even permanent – a mentality that has led to spiralling deficits, permanent war and Trump. Romanticizing the order makes it harder to adjust to today’s global disorder. Only by confronting the delusion of liberal order and adapting to current realities can the United States survive as a constitutional republic in a plural world.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPolity Press
Number of pages224
ISBN (Electronic)9781509538690
ISBN (Print)9781509538676, 9781509538683
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Liberal Order
  • Realism
  • United States
  • Power
  • Security
  • Nostalgia
  • Trump
  • Machiavelli


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