"Recently here on TAP Online, Shadi Hamid and Spencer Ackerman debated what should serve as the lodestar of a progressive foreign policy vision. Hamid argued that the United States should make the promotion of democracy the centerpiece of its foreign policy, while Ackerman advocated that human rights take that role. Such questions will very likely become more relevant after Tuesday, if Democrats gain more power in Congress. But neither Hamid nor Ackerman offered the correct answer. As the small example of Vietnam helps to illustrate, the United States ought to be redirecting its energies toward renewing its strength and expanding the postwar liberal world order. Do that, and the rest -- democracy, human rights, liberal reforms -- will eventually follow.
"Ronald Beisner's new biography of Dean Acheson, this philosophy's most able practitioner, tells the familiar story of this world's creation from the perspective of its key founder. Although Secretary of State Acheson was a lawyer, not an economist, and his president Harry Truman a haberdasher rather than an international trade expert, their instincts were sound. Together with visionary European statesmen such as Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, they led the creation of a postwar order that has brought the world to unparalleled levels of peace and prosperity. Acheson's main concern was to create a liberal system on what he later called the 'half a world' that the United States had come to dominate, facing off against the Soviet bloc. Economic openness, and ever-closer economic integration in Europe, were the primary drivers of this new system."