Forum: Did "america First" Construct America Irrelevant?

Mark A. Boyer, Cameron G. Thies, Louis W. Pauly, Chih Yu Shih, Jessica De Alba-Ulloa, Shweta Singh, Didier Bigo, Nizar Messari, Jeremy Youde, Kelebogile Zvobgo, Michael J. Tierney, Emily B. Jackson, Eric Parajon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Did "America First"construct America irrelevant? Answering this question has been the subject of much debate in the popular press, the policy community, and scholarly circles. That asked, it is worth remembering that scholars and policymakers have long argued that one of the most enduring and important aspects of the US role in the world is American structural power. Perhaps nowhere has the Trump administration's approach to world affairs been more notable in perhaps diminishing US structural power than in withdrawing from multilateral forums. On an individual level of analysis, however, Trump's ever-changing, whiplash style of leadership made allies and adversaries less certain about American actions, intentions, and the direction of future policy trajectories. These issues point to the possibility that such impacts were more about Trump being Trump and less about a decline in American structural power. Only time will tell whether President Biden is able to rebuild from that structural wreckage. With these ideas in mind, the forum editors asked scholars representing diverse voices and perspectives to provide varying analyses of America First, specifically in light of the emergence of multiple global challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial reckoning through the climate crisis and more. As you will see, each author brings a decidedly different lens to the questions we pose below and also generates divergent analyses of the present and the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-494
Number of pages37
JournalInternational Studies Perspectives
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021


  • America First
  • institutionalism
  • Structural power


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