Upcoming Book Talk: The American Imperative

Join us for a conversation with Vandenberg Coalition advisory board member Daniel F. Runde about his new book, The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership Through Soft Power
Monday, February 13th at 4:00 PM

What should our global strategy look like in an age of renewed great power competition? And what must America offer to a newly empowered developing world when we’re no longer the only major player? Foreign policy expert Daniel Runde makes the case for renewed American engagement in the developing world for our own prosperity and security, but also because foreign assistance and other forms of soft power are largely where this competition is going to be contested.

The developing world has changed over the last several decades – it is richer, freer, and has a lot more agency. Russia and China can fill digital vacuums, trade vacuums, vaccine vacuums and infrastructure vacuums. The U.S. and our allies must offer a positive agenda that meets the needs and aspirations of partner countries. If this is not done, these countries will turn to Russia and China.

In The American Imperative (Post Hill Press, February 2023), Runde makes the case for building a new global consensus through vigorous internationalism and judicious use of soft power. He maps out many of the steps that we need to take––primarily in the non-military sphere––to ensure an alliance of stable and secure, like-minded, self-reliant partner nations in order to prevent rising authoritarian powers such as China from running the world.

This is the first book in decades to look at our non-military power through the lens of great-power competition. It calls for: supporting broad-based economic growth, supporting good governance and anti-corruption, long-term training, differentiating our approaches in middle-income countries and fragile states, 

and stronger U.S. leadership in the multilateral system.   In addition to Gen. McChrystal, others praising the book include John Bolton, H.R. McMaster, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, and Paula J. Dobriansky.

The book closes with a call for major fixes to the current system of soft power: the way we are organized, the “plumbing” issues, how we dole out monies, and personnel issues. We need a 20-year strategy for our soft power that works for both Republicans and Democrats, and that will also respond to the challenges of today.

About the Author

Daniel F. Runde is Senior Vice President and the William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Renowned as a global thought leader, he has been at the center of Washington debates on soft power and development for two decades. Previously, he held senior leadership roles at the World Bank Group and served in the Bush Administration at USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development).  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bretton Woods Committee, and previously chaired two U.S. federal advisory committees that touch on soft power.  He is a contributor to thehill.com and hosts a CSIS podcast series “Building the Future: Freedom, Prosperity & Foreign Policy.”