For the past decade, a debate has raged about the future of American power and foreign policy engagement. In his new book, The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 2013), Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Vali Nasr questions America’s choice to lessen its foreign policy engagement around the world. Nasr argues that after taking office in 2009, the Obama administration let fears of terrorism and political backlash confine its policies to that of the previous administration, instead of seizing the opportunity to fundamentally reshape American foreign policy over the past four years. Meanwhile, China and Russia – rivals to American influence globally – were quietly expanding their influence in places where the U.S. has long held sway. Nasr argues that the Obama administration’s foreign policy decision making could have potentially dangerous outcomes, and, what’s more, sells short America’s power and role in the world.
On May 14, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Vali Nasr for a discussion on the state of U.S. power globally and whether American foreign policy under the Obama administration is in retreat. Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Kagan joined the discussion, which was moderated by Vice President Martin Indyk, director of Foreign Policy.