American diplomacy is in shambles, but beneath the daily chaos is an erosion of the postwar order that is even more dangerous.
America emerged from the catastrophe of World War II convinced that global engagement and leadership were essential to prevent another global conflict and further economic devastation. That choice was not inevitable, but its success proved monumental. It brought decades of great power peace, underpinned the rise in global prosperity, and defined what it meant to be an American in the eyes of the rest of the world for generations. It was a historic achievement.
Now, America has abdicated this vital leadership role. The Empty Throne is an inside portrait of the greatest lurch in US foreign policy since the decision to retreat back into Fortress America after World War I. The whipsawing of US policy has upended all that America's postwar leadership created—strong security alliances, free and open markets, an unquestioned commitment to democracy and human rights. Impulsive, theatrical, ill-informed, backward-looking, bullying, and reckless are the qualities that the American president brings to the table, when he shows up at all. The world has had to absorb the spectacle of an America unmaking the world it made, and the consequences will be with us for years to come.