A Nation Engaged: America's Role in The World

Aug 29, 2016

We take part in a national conversation as part of the NPR series, A Nation Engaged: America's Role in the World. We explore how the U.S. should wield its diplomatic influence and military might.  It's a topic both major candidates have addressed, offering different visions for foreign policy. We'll look at those and consider what challenges the next President is likely deal with on the world stage. 


Wayne Lesperance - Professor of Political Science at New England College and co-director of the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership.

Andy Smith - Professor of Political Science at UNH and director of the UNH  Survey Center. 


Here is the Morning Edition report that featured a class at Dartmouth College that is wrestling with the question:  where would you shrink U.S. involvement around the world?


Ken from Antrim, NH, called to say we’ve been the world’s cop on our own dime for years; other nations need to do something together.  

Email from Adam in Sandwich: 

“we say we want to step back from being the world police, but will we be able to accept it when another power makes value judgements that differ from ours, and refrain from intervening and delegitimizing the process?"

Wayne Lesperance: when we face global challenges, a collective response, countries coming together and addressing those issues as a group is the way a lot of voters would prefer we go.

A call from Mike, a Gulf War veteran in Berlin who said after multiple deployments:  ”a lot of us are just tired of going back overseas…to fight [on behalf of]people who don’t even want us there.  We come home, we end up messed up in our heads, we end up messed up physically, mentally.  And we see all these refugees coming here, they’re getting help.  And us veterans,  we have to fight just to get help here.  And a lot of guys, they don’t believe in what they’re doing anymore.”

Some of the foreign policy problems we’re seeing in the world right now: the increasing aggression by Russia in both Crimea and other parts of the Ukraine, and rattling sabers against the Baltic countries; the increasing belligerence of China In the South China sea and against its neighbors; and in the Middle East and Turkey, and other countries not respecting what the United States is wanting to do…that’s come about because we have pulled back…and other countries are going to fill in that power void - Andy Smith

An email from Tom in Exeter:

“I don’t like that the US is involved so heavily overseas.  But I think we need to be involved.  Look at the following:

In the 1980’s President Reagan supplied arms to the Afghan Mujahideen.  Decades later we’re fighting the Taliban.

In the 1990’s President Clinton tried to stay out of the Bosnia and Herzegovina war.  A genocide followed before NATO fully engaged.

President George W Bush invaded Iraq.  That allowed Al Qaeda to strengthen and grow.

President Obama has been reluctant to full engage Isis.  They grew and now terrorize France and other countries.

My point is we can’t be all in or all out.  We need a president who will apply intelligence and balance in their decision making.”