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Commentaries by Joseph S. Nye

Joseph S. Nye

Professor, Harvard University

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is a professor at Harvard and author most recently of "Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump".
  • Jan 06, 2021

    American foreign policy tends to oscillate between inward and outward orientations. President George W. Bush was an interventionist; his successor, Barack Obama, less so. And Donald Trump was mostly non-interventionist. What should we expect from Joe Biden?

  • Dec 09, 2020

    Friends and allies have come to distrust the United States. Trust is closely related to truth, and President Donald Trump is notoriously loose with the truth. All presidents have lied, but never on such a scale that it debases the currency of trust. International polls show that America’s soft power of attraction has declined sharply over Trump’s presidency.

  • Oct 15, 2020

    There is no single future until it happens, and any effort to envision geopolitics in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic must include a range of possible futures. I suggest five plausible futures in 2030, but obviously others can be imagined.

  • Aug 13, 2020

    Since 2017, America’s National Security Strategy has focused on great power competition, and today much of Washington is busy portraying our relationship with China as a new cold war. Obviously, great power competition remains a crucial aspect of foreign policy, but we must not let it obscure the growing transnational security threats that technology is putting on the agenda.

  • Jul 09, 2020

    Many analysts argue that the liberal international order ended with the rise of China and the election of US President Donald Trump. But if Joe Biden defeats Trump in November’s election, should he try to revive it? Probably not, but he must replace it.

  • Jul 06, 2020

    While the US and China have entered a new phase in their relationship, it is misleading to call it a new cold war. Both sides should find the requisite “bottoms” and “safety nets” that establish a framework that best suits the US-China cooperative rivalry.

  • May 08, 2020

    Leadership – the ability to help people frame and achieve their goals – is absolutely crucial during a crisis. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill demonstrated this in 1940, as did Nelson Mandela during South Africa’s transition from apartheid.

  • Apr 07, 2020

    COVID-19 is confronting humanity with its most severe test since 1918, when an influenza pandemic killed more people than died in World War I. Yet the top leaders of the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States, have failed the first round.

  • Mar 06, 2020

    Many Americans say they want a moral foreign policy, but disagree on what that means. Using a three-dimensional scorecard encourages us to avoid simplistic answers and to look at the motives, means, and consequences of a US president’s actions.

  • Jan 15, 2020

    When I told a friend I had just written a book on morality and foreign policy, she quipped: “It must be a very short book.” Such skepticism is common. An Internet search shows surprisingly few books on how US presidents’ moral views affected their foreign policies. As the eminent political theorist Michael Walzer once described American graduate training in international relations after 1945, “Moral argument was against the rules of the discipline as it was commonly practiced.”

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