Why We Should Preserve International Institutions and Order

July 28, 2018

NYT Statement

The international order formed after World War II provides important benefits to the United States as well as other countries. The United Nations, NATO, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and other postwar institutions all help to provide economic stability and international security, contributing to unprecedented levels of prosperity and the longest period in modern history without war between major powers.

U.S. leadership helped to create this system, and U.S. leadership has long been critical for its success. Although the United States has paid a significant share of the costs of this order since its inception, it has greatly benefited from its rewards. Indeed, the United States has gained disproportionate influence on setting the rules of international exchange and security cooperation in ways that reflect its interests around the globe.

Today, however, the international institutions supporting the postwar order are under attack by President Donald J. Trump. As scholars of international relations, we are alarmed by these attacks. We should reform, but not destroy the system that has served the United States and its allies well for more than seven decades. The global order is certainly in need of major changes, but absolutely not the reckless ones President Trump is pursuing. Institutions are much harder to build up than they are to destroy. Almost nobody benefits from a descent into the chaos of a world without effective institutions that encourage and organize cooperation.


David Baldwin, Columbia University

Michael Barnett, Georgetown University

J. Lawrence Broz, University of California, San Diego

William Clark, Texas A&M University

Jeff D. Colgan, Brown University

Songying Fan, Rice University

James D. Fearon, Stanford University

Michael Findley, University of Texas

Martha Finnemore, George Washington University

Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University

F. Gregory Gause III, Texas A&M University

Judith Goldstein, Stanford University

Peter Gourevitch, University of California, San Diego

Stephan Haggard, University of California, San Diego

Emilie Hafner-Burton, University of California, San Diego

Robert Jervis, Columbia University

Miles Kahler, American University

Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University

Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University

David A. Lake, University of California, San Diego

Brett Ashley Leeds, Rice University

Ian Lustick, University of Pennsylvania

Lisa L. Martin, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Helen V. Milner, Princeton University

Joseph S. Nye,  Harvard University

Pablo Pinto, University of Houston

Robert Powell, University of California, Berkeley

Lauren Prather, University of California, San Diego

Scott Sagan, Stanford University

Richard Samuels, MIT

Christina Schneider, University of California, San Diego

Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University

Beth Simmons, University of Pennsylvania

Branislav Slantchev, University of California, San Diego

Jack Snyder, Columbia University

Etel Solingen, University of California, Irvine

Randall Stone, University of Rochester

Nina Tannenwald, Brown University

Alexander Thompson, Ohio State University

Peter Trubowitz, London School of Economics and Political Science

David G. Victor, University of California, San Diego

Barbara F. Walter, University of California, San Diego


Sponsored by the Committee on Foreign Policy Concern, 858-232-5503. Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.