America's foreign policy has undergone significant evolution since its founding. After World War II, the country embraced a policy of containment towards the Soviet Union, leading to increased involvement in international affairs. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War marked a shift towards a more interventionist foreign policy, as seen in the Gulf War and post-9/11 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russia-Ukraine War, which began in 2014 with Russia's annexation of Crimea, marked a new low in US-Russian relations, with the US imposing economic sanctions in response. China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region has also been a challenge for US foreign policy, with the US responding with a mix of engagement and competition, including trade tensions and efforts to strengthen partnerships in the region.
In this episode, PEI’s Anurag Acharya sits with Ryan Hass to discuss the US and its role as a global leader in a changing geopolitical landscape. Ryan Hass is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and a member of the Board of Trustees of The Asia Foundation. From 2013 to 2017, he has served as the Director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the U.S. National Security Council, advising President Obama and senior White House officials on all aspects of American policy towards these three countries. In this 15-year tenure in the US Foreign Service, Ryan served in various American embassies, from Beijing, and Seoul, to Ulaanbaatar. He has authored multiple books, including “Stronger: Adapting America's China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence.”
Anurag and Ryan discuss the evolution of American foreign policy, especially in the last two tumultuous decades since 9/11, and how that has impacted its position as a global leader. They also examine contemporary world crises like the Russia-Ukraine War, as well as the potential conflict between US and China over Taiwan, and America’s response to China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Ryan further elaborates his proposition that, instead of looking for a hostile contestation, the US and China both have to learn to live with each other, that the US must invest in itself and in its friends, and how the collaboration between these competing powers on collective-action problems like climate change can result in better outcomes for everyone.
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