U.S. Foreign Policy

Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University
American military power, says Stephen Walt, should be first and foremost defensive.
  • Transcript


Question: How should America use its power?

Stephen Walt: I think that, you know, the United States should use the power it has at its disposal to first of all protect itself and its interests. But then to the extent that we can, try to create a more stable and more orderly world. The problem is there’s not very much we can do on that front. I think what separates me from, you know, many other people who work in the field of American foreign policy is I think there are real limits to our capacity to shape other societies; that it’s not our business or within our capacity to dictate how other societies are gonna run. I think that’s their job. And we’re . . . If we try to do it, we’re gonna screw it up far more often than we’re gonna succeed.

Recorded on: 10/8/07