ALL THIS said, misguided, overreaching liberalism will probably not consistently drive a post-Trump foreign policy. The doctrine having been declared and tried, the vision will eventually run up against inexorable problems. The systemic pressures of the world will bear down on Washington and force a correction. Therefore, the issue is not whether the United States will pursue an “open world,” but how, and how expensively, it is forced to adjust to the realities of international life before the consequences of the doctrine run amok. We can expect that the doctrine will attract resistance, spawn conflict, and polarize America, because it has already done so in history. Claiming to offer a fresh design for a future liberal administration, visions of an expansive post-Trump statecraft are in fact an old wine in a new bottle. No matter how couched in the attractive language of Thomas Paine, of making the world anew, the pursuit of benevolent armed supremacy will yield similarly disappointing results.
Patrick Porter is Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham. He is also Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, London, and a Fellow of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
Sumantra Maitra is a Doctoral Scholar at the University of Nottingham, and a Non-resident Fellow at the James G. Martin Center.