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From Ukraine to the Middle East to China, the United States is redefining its role in international affairs. Alliance building, public diplomacy, and eschewing traditional warfare in favor of the focused use of hard power such as drones and special forces are all hallmarks of the so-called Obama Doctrine. Is this a farsighted foreign policy for the United States and the world in the twenty-first century — one that acknowledges and embraces the increasing diffusion of power among states and non-state actors? Or, is an America “leading from behind” a boon for the nations and blocs who want to roll back economic globalization, international law, and the spread of democracy and human rights?
In this edition of the 14th semi-annual Munk Debates, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bret Stephens and famed historian and foreign policy commentator Robert Kagan square off against CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and noted academic and political commentator Anne-Marie Slaughter. With ISIS looking to reshape the Middle East, Russia increasingly at odds with the rest of the West, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a standstill, the Munk Debate on U.S. Foreign Policy asks: Has Obama’s foreign policy taken the U.S. in the right direction?
Bret Stephens is the deputy editorial page editor of the international opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Distinguished Commentary. He lives in New York City.
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow of foreign policy at the Brooking Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is the president of the New America Foundation, one of America’s top international affairs think tanks, and the former Director of Policy Planning for Planning for the U.S. State Department. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN’s flagship global affairs program Fareed Zakaria GPS and the editor-at-large of Time. He lives in New York City.