For 70 years, the Truman Doctrine has guided U.S. foreign policy, tying the United States to support for democracy, open societies, and market economies across the globe. Rallying a war-weary nation, President Harry Truman laid the foundation for a system of alliances in Europe and Asia, international institutions for economic cooperation, and the spread of human rights that underlay U.S. Cold War strategy. Seven decades later, what relevant lessons of the Truman Doctrine remain?
On July 19, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va) for a discussion of these themes from his new article for Foreign Affairs, “A new Truman Doctrine: Grand strategy in a hyperconnected world.” While much has changed since the early Cold War, the senator’s call for a revitalized, 21st century Truman Doctrine recognizes that essential questions of Harry Truman’s time ring true today.
How can the United States work to bolster democracies in a world of rising authoritarian powers? Can the United States selectively engage with authoritarian states such as Russia and China? And, in addition to these similarities to Truman’s days, how should the United States operate when the diffusion of power and connectivity among nations has strengthened non-state actors, for good and ill?
Following Senator Kaine’s featured remarks, historian and scholar Robert Kagan, senior fellow with Brookings’s Project on International Order and Strategy, joined the senator for a conversation on U.S grand strategy in this new hyperconnected and geopolitically competitive era.
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For the past year, you've seen that perhaps no leverage that the US and the West thought it had — aid, sanctions, the freezing of Afghanistan's reserves — has really had an effect on Taliban behavior. The Taliban has essentially done what they had always done. The Afghan people have been in a humanitarian crisis because the Taliban hasn't budged.