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American Isolationism, Past and Present

This members-only conversation with author and Georgetown Professor Charles Kupchan examines whether a middle ground between foreign policy that does too little or does too much is possible.
Charles Kupchan
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About this event

The United States is in the middle of an urgent and heated debate over the future of its engagement with the world. From America’s founding era until World War II, the nation’s leaders generally shunned strategic commitments abroad. Thereafter, Americans embraced global leadership and activism. The pendulum now seems to be swinging back; costly military engagements in the Middle East, economic uncertainty and a backlash against globalization, and domestic political polarization have weakened the nation’s appetite for internationalism. What impact will the comeback of isolationist sentiment have on US strategy? Charles Kupchan examines the history and longevity of isolationism in the United States to shed light on how the incoming Biden administration can bring the nation’s statecraft back into line with its means and purposes by finding the middle ground between a foreign policy that does too little and one that does too much.

Copies of Charles Kupchan’s book, Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield itself from the World, are available to purchase through our local book partner, The Book Cellar.

About the Speakers
Charles Kupchan
Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Professor, Georgetown University
Charles A. Kupchan is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. From 2014 to 2017, Kupchan served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President on the National Security Council.
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Crown Center Content This content is produced by the Lester Crown Center, which aims to shape debates and inform decisions on important US foreign policy and national security issues.