President Donald Trump has repeatedly used the phrase ‘America First’ to summarize his administration’s approach to the world. To what extent does this rhetoric signal a more isolationist US foreign policy? And what would a less actively involved United States mean for the global networks and institutions which it has been central to since the middle of the 20th century?

The panel examines the role of the United States on the world stage throughout history. It considers previous use of ‘America First’, the US pre-existing unease with the label ‘empire’ and past withdrawals from global leadership, in order to determine what America’s future role might look like.

The discussion also considers the impact a retreat from global affairs could have in terms of strengthening or weakening the US as a nation-state.


Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Professor Emeritus, University of London; Associate Fellow, US and Americas Programme, Chatham House; Director, Chatham House (2001-06); Author, Empire In Retreat: The Past, Present, and Future of the United States
Amy Pope, Partner, Schillings; United States Deputy Homeland Security Advisor (2015–17)
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Head, US and the Americas Programme; Dean, Queen Elizabeth II Academy, Chatham House
Chair: Jacob Parakilas, Deputy Head, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House