On January 20 2017, President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump will inherit Barack Obama’s legacy, just as Mr Obama still uses George W Bush’s tenure as a reference for his own. In broad strokes, Mr Obama’s foreign policy has reflected a swing of the pendulum away from what he perceived as his predecessor’s aggressive activism and long wars.

The next president, however, will lead a public questioning not only whether Mr Obama’s policies have created vacuums filled by hostile forces, but also whether — and how — the US should intervene. The Pew Research Center reported in April that 57 per cent of Americans believe the US should “deal with its own problems” and “let other countries deal with their own problems as best they can”.

The article originally appeared in Financial Times on October 16, 2016. Continue reading here.


Robert B. Zoellick was lead U.S. negotiator in the Two-plus-Four process of German unification.  He served as U.S. trade representative and U.S. deputy secretary of state during Republican administrations, as well as president of the World Bank. He is a former AICGS Trustee.