The importance of North America, trade, alliances, public support, and purpose are five traditions of American foreign policy. America’s relationship with the world has been shaped by these traditions from its founding, to the Louisiana Purchase, to more recent developments like America’s looming withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and trade disputes with historic allies.

What do these traditions mean in the face of global issues like the pandemic and the climate crisis? How will domestic issues like high unemployment, a reckoning on race relations and natural disasters influence how these traditions manifest in the future?

This event will examine the American experience of foreign policy through particular people and episodes to better understand the mechanisms that ensure the grand strategy achieves its goals. It will also consider what this history can tell us about the future. How will the UK-US relationship evolve? What is the foreign policy legacy this administration is leaving for the next (whether in 2020 or 2024)? How might these tendencies emerge as rhetoric ahead of the November election?

This event is for Chatham House members. Not a member? Find out more.


Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank (2007-2012), US Trade Representative (2001-2005), and US Deputy Secretary of State (2005-2006). Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, Author of America in the World: A History of US Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

Chair: Robin Niblett, Director and Chief Executive, Chatham House