The liberal order: before Trump, and after

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In a striking new book, “The False Promise of Liberal Order,” Patrick Porter argues that the U.S.-led order is inherently illiberal, and that its mythmakers flatter themselves while creating antagonisms around the world. Porter, a Quincy Institute fellow and chair in international security and strategy at the University of Birmingham, opens up a vital conversation about the past and future of U.S. grand strategy and the alternatives to America’s post-1945 dispensation. Turning from criticism to action, the panel discussed what should replace the liberal order, on which its detractors disagree. If the United States were to stop pursuing armed dominance globally, what should replace primacy? Should the United States focus its resources on great power competition? Should it seek to contain China? Or should it seek broader cooperation in an increasingly multipolar world? The discussion took place  on Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 at 12 PM ET for “The Liberal Order: Before Trump, and After.” Panelists included author Patrick PorterEmma Ashford, research fellow at the Cato Institute; and Professor Michael Lind of the University of Texas, Austin. The conversation was moderated by Quincy Institute Deputy Director for Research and Policy Stephen Wertheim.


Patrick Porter

Patrick Porter is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute, Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham, and Non-Resident Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He is the author of Blunder: Britain's War in Iraq (2018), shortlisted for the British Army Military Book of the Year; and The False Promise of Liberal Order: Nostalgia, Delusion and the Rise of Trump (2020). He grew up in Melbourne before studying at Oxford. He has appeared as an expert witness before both the Defense and Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Select Committees, as well as the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. His research interests focus on great power politics, political realism, and the foreign and defense policies of the UK and the US.

Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford is a research fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy, with expertise in international security and the politics of energy. She writes about Russia, Europe and the Middle East, along with U.S. foreign policy more broadly. Her current projects include a book draft on the foreign policy of petrostates, an article on the politics of restraint, and papers on the future of U.S. foreign policy and the liberal international order. Emma has published long‐​form articles in publications such as Foreign Affairs, the Texas National Security Review, and Strategic Studies Quarterly. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, Vox, The National Interest, and War on the Rocks, among others. She holds a PhD in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Michael Lind

Michael Lind is a professor of practice at the LBJ School. A graduate of the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program and the Law School at the University of Texas with a master’s degree in international relations from Yale, Lind has previously taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. He has been assistant to the director of the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs at the U.S. State Department and has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic and The National Interest. A co-founder of New America, along with Walter Mead, Sherle Schwenninger and Ted Halstead, Lind co-founded New America’s American strategy program, and served as policy director of its economic growth program. He is a former member of the boards of Fairvote and Economists for Peace and Security.

Stephen Wertheim (Moderator)

Stephen Wertheim is a historian of the United States in the world. He is Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the Quincy Institute. He is also a Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Stephen specializes in U.S. foreign relations and international order, particularly concepts of global politics from the late nineteenth century to the present. He is author of a book forthcoming from Harvard University Press that reveals how, in the years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, U.S. officials and intellectuals first decided that the United States should become the supreme political-military power in the postwar world. He was previously a faculty member at Columbia University and at Birkbeck, University of London. He received a PhD from Columbia University in 2015. He also holds an MPhil from Columbia University (2011) and an AB summa cum laude from Harvard University (2007).