The American Imperative


On Monday, February 20th, President Joe Biden visited Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. While Biden’s visit may have been shrouded in secrecy, his message was clear: the United States would continue to use its intelligence, military, and economic pressures to support Ukraine in defending itself from Russian aggression.

The visit and the promise of military aid demonstrated the necessity of hard power in U.S. foreign policy. In the era of great power competition, however, argues Daniel Runde in his new book, The American Imperative, Washington must marshall its strength in all areasRunde makes the argument that for the US to reclaim global leadership and ensure the success of liberal democracies, the United States must bolster its investments in the developing world. Runde’s primary assertion is that the United States risks falling behind China, exposing a major weakness in its influence on the developing world. Left with no alternatives, he suggests, nations turn to China and fall victim to predatory practices like “debt-trap diplomacy” and deceptive business deals. 

Runde asserts that developing nations desire self-determination; they do not want obligations to large powers or being contained in a “sphere of influence.” Runde’s argument goes beyond “winning the competition” against China but instead advocates for the United States to use every tool at its disposal to help developing nations move to self-reliance, becoming viable partners and allies. 

Questions and Background

  • What is the history of U.S. development policy? 
  • How does USAID play a crucial role in America’s relationship with the developing world? 
  • How can America reform its education policy to attract more students from developing nations? 
  • What are the obstacles to American reinvestment in the developing world? 

Related Posts