Jake Mercier analyzes how sharp generational divides have made it harder for America to define what its role in the world should be in the post-9/11 era.

Cultivating any coherent national foreign policy won’t be possible without a common goal, concrete values, and a clear vision of what America is and should be. But a sharp generational divide provides major obstacles to this path forward, also a real chance for much-needed reform.

In the post-Cold War era, American foreign policy considerations seemed to be increasingly separated from domestic issues. Undergirding the American strategy was the spread of liberal democracy around the world—through international institutions or by force. Domestic support of this project was easy in a world that remembered a forceful America defeating the Nazis and landing on the moon. Today’s grandparents and their grandparents remember an America worth fighting for.

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