A strong international order requires US to defer to allies

President Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy has sparked heated debate in the international community. Many foreign policy observers argue that Mr Trump's policies are undermining the multilateral institutions that make up the "liberal international order". Others contend that he is merely expressing openly what previous American presidents have long believed: The United States dominates the international system and has the power to violate its terms at will, and frequently has.

But both arguments miss the point: The liberal international order thrived not because of overwhelming American power and dominance, but because of a hard-fought consensus forged when much weaker powers resisted US policies on critical matters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2019, with the headline 'A strong international order requires US to defer to allies'. Print Edition | Subscribe