The Isolationist Impulse and the American Experience: Implications for US Grand Strategy

In his 1796 farewell address, US President George Washington cautioned the American people against entangling alliances, setting the nation on an isolationist course that would last until the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Research event
14 October 2020 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM

The Isolationist Impulse and the American Experience

— Panellists discuss the future of America’s engagement with the world, and implications for the US 'grand strategy'.

Beginning with their entry into World War II, Americans finally abandoned isolationism in favour of global engagement.

But isolationist sentiment is making a comeback due to the nation’s recent overreach in the Middle East, political polarization, and economic discontent exacerbated by COVID-19’s impact. The United States is in the midst of heated debate about its role in the world, a debate that will profoundly affect the future of US grand strategy.

Charles Kupchan, Professor at Georgetown University, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European affairs on the staff of the National Security Council (2014-17) and author of Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World joins David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, to discuss the future of America’s engagement with the world.

This event is hosted by the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House and the Imperial War Museum Institute.


David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee
Professor Charles A Kupchan, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Professor of International Affairs, School of Foreign Service and Government Department, Georgetown University; Senior Director for European Affairs, US National Security Council, 2014-17
Chair: Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Director, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House

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