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Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
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This week in Say More, PS talks with Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a professor at Harvard University.

Project Syndicate: Donald “Trump’s electoral appeal may turn on domestic politics,” you wrote in September, “but his effect on world politics could be transformational, particularly if he gains a second term.” Well, he hasn’t gotten his second term. Is this enough to ensure that we really are at “the end of an historical accident”? What changes cannot be undone, at least not easily?

Joseph Nye: Had Trump been re-elected, the damage to the international system of multilateral institutions and alliances would have been very difficult to repair. As one European friend told me, “it is hard to hold one’s breath for four years; eight years is impossible.”

But Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, and to strengthen America’s strained alliances. This bodes well. Nonetheless, it will take time to restore trust, not least because more than 70,000,000 Americans cast their votes for Trump. This suggests that Trumpism will live on, even without Trump.

Nye, Jr. recommends

We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Nye, Jr.'s picks:

  • A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order

    A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order

    This book is the result of a lifetime of work by one of the liberal international order’s leading theorists. Ikenberry reaches back to the nineteenth century to examine the roots of liberal internationalism and uses those insights to illuminate its crisis today, resulting in an important examination of the quest for an open, rules-based, and progressively oriented world order.

  • War: How Conflict Shaped Us

    War: How Conflict Shaped Us

    MacMillan is a distinguished historian, who has written skillfully about World War I and its aftermath at Versailles, among other topics. Now she broadens her scope to the vast topic of war, from ancient to modern times and even into the future. This book is eminently readable and full of interesting insights.

  • To Build a Better World: Choices to End the Cold War and Create a Global Commonwealth

    To Build a Better World: Choices to End the Cold War and Create a Global Commonwealth

    A former US secretary of state, who now directs the Hoover Institution at Stanford, teams up with a distinguished professor of history at the University of Virginia to describe the crucial decisions that shaped the post-Cold War international order. As skilled scholars and diplomats who were present during key events, Rice and Zelikow capably describe how the old world ended, and the current world emerged.

From the PS Archive

From 2019

In Nye’s first Say More interview, he untangles the power dynamics among the US, China, Iran, and others; proposes ways to stave off cyber-war; and says why fiction can sometimes reveal more than analytical prose can. Read more.

From 2019

Nye shows why the conventional wisdom exaggerates China’s strengths and overlooks five key weaknesses. Read more.

Around the web

In a recent online talk, Nye presented his thoughts on the US election and the role of morality in international relations. Watch the webinar.

In a commentary for Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, Nye discusses the crisis in foreign-policy leadership that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed. Read the article.