The Bottom Line

Cato’s foreign and defense policies are guided by the view that the United States is relatively secure, and so should engage the world, trade freely, and work with other countries on common concerns, but avoid trying to dominate it militarily. We should be an example of democracy and human rights, not their armed vindicator abroad. Although that view is largely absent in Washington, D.C. today, it has a rich history, from George Washington to Cold War realists like George Kennan. Cato scholars aim to restore it. A principled and restrained foreign policy would keep the nation out of most foreign conflicts and be cheaper, more ethical, and less destructive of civil liberties.

Cato Studies

Commentary

America Adrift

Under the Obama administration, U.S. foreign policy lacks a strategic focus.

Of Special Note

Confronting “Isolationism”

Isolationism

Some interventionists have characterized Cato’s views as “isolationist,” but that is inaccurate. In fact, Cato scholars argue that the United States should be an example of the principles of liberty, democracy, and human rights, not their armed vindicator abroad. This page includes several articles by Cato scholars as well as a few by outside experts showing that the “isolationist” slur is inappropriate.

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A Dangerous World? Threat Perception And U.S. National Security

A Dangerous World? Threat Perception And U.S. National Security

In 2012, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey contended that “we are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime, right now.” In 2013, he was more assertive, stating that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” Is this accurate? In this new book, experts on international security assess, and put in context, the supposed dangers to American security. The authors examine the most frequently referenced threats, including wars between nations and civil wars within nations, and discuss the impact of rising nations, weapons proliferation, general unrest, transnational crime, and state failures.