Washington, D.C. — Today, tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine have put global politics back in the spotlight and raised new questions about America’s leadership role in the world. As President Barack Obama’s administration prepares to release its second national security strategy later this year, Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, makes a strategic and moral case for U.S. engagement in the world in his article “Against Disengagement” in the Spring 2014 edition of Democracy.
“With more than two years left in office, the Obama administration has an important opportunity to reinvigorate its foreign policy approach and advance an argument that builds public support for U.S. engagement on key national security challenges,” said Katulis.
In the article, Katulis analyzes the reassertion of authoritarianism around the world that is placing new strains on the liberal international order that America has helped construct over the past 70 years. At the same time, governments around the world are under increasing pressure from citizens to fulfill basic needs and respond to transnational issues such as energy security, stresses on the global food supply, and climate change.
These global changes are happening at a time of change in the politics of national security in the United States, as the old battle lines are being redrawn and labels such as “neoconservative” and “liberal interventionist” have less political relevance as those camps have decreased in size and political clout.
The article argues that progressives in the United States are well positioned to advance a new style of international engagement that appeals to the American public and promotes a new type of leadership around the world. Conservatives are divided into multiple camps over what they stand for on national security. Furthermore, the conservative worldview—including a lack of faith in the idea that effective government can promote the common good and a disdain for international institutions and treaties—is unsuitable for today’s global challenges.
Katulis argues that progressives should outline positions on four issues that will define U.S. leadership in the world:
Taking a clearer stance on global political change and the possibilities for democratic transitions around the world.
Defining a pragmatic and flexible form of multilateral collaboration.
Reforming the U.S. national security architecture at a time of budget cuts.
Outlining a progressive economic agenda that preserves our leadership in global commerce and finance.