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Research Report

Why American Leadership Still Matters

Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2015
Pages: 59
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)
    Jon Kyl and Joseph Lieberman
  2. (pp. 5-8)

    Must America be proactively engaged around the world to protect its people’s security, prosperity, and freedom? Since the beginning of World War II, the general consensus has been that the answer is yes, though from time to time, public opinion and American policy have been less hospitable to that consensus.

    Curious as to whether America’s interests and ideals would suffer if its engagement with the rest of the world decreased, we set out almost two years ago to determine whether and how international engagement improves the lives of all Americans. Under the auspices of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the...

  3. (pp. 9-13)

    American leadership is critical to the security, stability, and prosperity of both the world and the American homeland. In recent years, however, US international leadership has increasingly been challenged in both spheres. Abroad, the international order is under attack from multiple sources: from nonstate actors such as al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, and others, to regional rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, a nationalist Russia challenging the sovereignty of neighboring states, and an increasingly ambitious China. Whether the aims of these countries or nonstate actors are hegemonic, terroristic, or just opportunistic, only vigorous international leadership from the United States...

  4. (pp. 14-22)

    In the wake of the Great Depression and World War II, America’s leaders recognized that financial stability and growth elsewhere improved domestic economic conditions and, likewise, that economic crises elsewhere harmed US growth. America’s role in the postwar world reflected an understanding that it would be impossible for the United States to isolate itself from events happening elsewhere in the world. America’s leaders came to a consensus: it was far more beneficial to engage with the world than to try to insulate the country from developments abroad. The United States, then, came to exercise global leadership in pursuit of the...

  5. (pp. 23-28)

    It has become fashionable to suggest that exceptionalism is a chauvinistic litmus test to underscore partisan differences in foreign policy. It need not be so. America is unique because it was the first nation founded on a set of enduring values and truths proclaimed at the nation’s birth. These values define the nation, including a belief in the primacy and dignity of the individual, limited constitutional government, equal treatment under that law, and the freedom to achieve according to one’s talents and initiative.

    These principles of freedom underpinned America’s constitution and provided the nation with the framework and the model...

  6. (pp. 29-30)

    When we first convened the American Internationalism Project in early 2013, Americans were questioning the importance of continued involvement in international affairs. This sentiment was driven by economic problems at home, war weariness, and a feeling that America’s involvement in foreign conflicts had done nothing to protect or help the average American. This was not the first time that the American public has felt this way, nor will it be the last.

    Since 2013, the case for American international leadership has largely been made for us by current events. From the Middle East to Asia, and from Africa to Europe,...