U.S. Interests Abroad Face Steep Challenges

For Release

October 19, 2016

The United States' interests abroad are facing challenges because the alliances, economic institutions and political relationships that have made up the international order since the end of World War II are under threat from global upheaval, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

U.S. policymakers have consistently viewed the elements of the post-war international order as a key means of achieving U.S. interests in the world. But that order is under strain from a number of intersecting trends, including the rising ambitions and grievances of other major powers and populist opposition to international governance and integration, according to RAND researchers.

RAND has convened a team of foreign policy experts to examine the character, status, and future of the international order and offer specific policy recommendations for the next administration.

As the United States contemplates its future policies, the nation's leaders will need to consider whether and to what extent this historic approach to international order will serve U.S. interests going forward.

“The belief in the legitimacy and viability of the existing international order by global participants is being shaken up by various economic and social trends,” said Michael Mazarr, the lead author of the report and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

RAND researchers offer several scenarios to understand the existing international system and the challenges it faces. They recommend that it will be important to overcome the tensions that exist between different nations to develop constructive strategies in the future.

The research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Office of Net Assessment.

Titled “Understanding the Current International Order,” and available at www.rand.org, it is the first in a series that will examine how changing international relations will affect specific regions, partnerships, and opportunities for U.S. engagement. Other authors of the report are Miranda Priebe, Andrew Radin, and Astrid Stuth Cevallos.

The research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense intelligence community.

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