World Politics with Chapman and Wolford, Part 3

Is the west faltering? Are the institutions that have supported the international order since the end of World War II collapsing? Has America’s preeminence in international affairs seen its best days? Is the west protecting itself from terrorism in any significant way? Does America have a strategy in Syria, and if so, what is it?

Continuing our discussion with Terry Chapman and Scott Wolford, our guests suggest that claims of the west’s demise are premature and overstated. While countries challenge the current international order, these are limited challenges, made strategically to annoy just a little bit, but not enough to justify harsh retribution. In this sense, current international institutions are strong and persisting.

As the discussion persists, what becomes clear is the utter complexity of international politics, and the frustration of having to choose between bad choices. The Syrian civil war provides a case in point. To both serious and casual observers, it might appear the United States has no strategy to address the civil war in Syria. But the truth might be that merely trying to contain the war is the best option available, no matter how ugly or dissatisfying that might be.

Before concluding, our guests discuss how wars end, why countries might fight wars in the first place, and how what we know does not give us clear guidelines on how to approach complex questions of foreign policy and international intervention.