Essay

It’s Time for an America First Green New Deal

by Anatol Lieven

Climate Change US foreign policy 46 mins read

The challenge for U.S. and Western politicians in meeting the short-term crisis of the coronavirus and the long-term crisis of climate change is to create, by democratic means, the sort of national consensus that will make radical and consistent strategies possible.

IF THERE is any good result of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, it is that they may blast both the Right and the Left in the United States and Great Britain out of the ideological straitjackets in which they systematically confined themselves in recent decades. If our political elites can manage this escape, it will leave us in much better shape to face further dire crises down the line: most notably climate change and its effects (including the spread of tropical diseases); mass migration; and deepening social inequality due to automation and artificial intelligence.

This crisis should teach the Right what Theodore Roosevelt and the New Nationalists taught it more than a century ago: that you cannot run a great modern mass society and economy on the basis that the answers to every question are to be found in a sacralized eighteenth-century constitution and blind faith in unrestrained free market economics; and that many areas of modern life need to be managed by technocratic and scientific experts, not amateur political cronies appointed through the spoils system. The Right will also have to relearn that no political order that wishes to survive can stand idly by while large sections of its population sink into economic misery and social despair.

The Left, for its part, should be forced to recognize the sheer frivolity of many of its obsessions of the past generation: ever more arcane and divisive ethnic and sexual identity politics; the unthinking mantra of a hollow “diversity”; and manifestly fantastical dreams of world government. The Left will have to relearn what Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the European social democrats of a previous generation could have taught it: the central importance of effective national states to the wellbeing of societies; states drawing their legitimacy from patriotism, and aiming not only at social solidarity but at national solidarity across lines of class, race, ethnicity, and religion. 

And perhaps our culture as a whole will relearn, that as individuals and families, we can get by without ever-multiplying material goods and self-pitying psychobabble. But we cannot get by without reasonably effective states and harmonious societies.

That Western democracy in general and American democracy in particular were in serious trouble long before the coronavirus pandemic broke can hardly be denied. Economies, even when they grew, no longer distributed remotely equitable returns to the mass of the population. The façade of “full employment” covered vast underemployment, along with insecure and underpaid part-time employment. Mass migration—encouraged by a combination of capitalist greed and liberal internationalist utopianism—became a giant uncontrolled social and political experiment, the indigenous backlash against which has already resulted in a series of electoral disasters. And now a pandemic is demanding state economic interventions so huge and restrictions so draconian that they would have been dismissed as quite out of the question just a few weeks ago; for without such interventions we risk the collapse of our economies and with them of our democratic systems.

Prior to the pandemic, the result of this combination of pressures was not only political polarization but political disintegration—something that we simply cannot afford any longer. On the Right, the Republican elites’ complete failure over several decades to defend their base’s interests and culture has produced in Donald Trump a leader whose policies are mostly a front for the economic interests of the very elites he claims to oppose. Under Trump, the United States has taken a giant leap towards Central America or the Philippines, not so much in terms of dictatorship as of sheer populist vacuity; and the failings of this kind of system are now being cruelly exposed by the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, the ethnic and cultural fragmentation of their base produced a “party” that is, in fact, at least three different parties, all incapable of agreeing on anything except their hatred of Trump. And both Democrats and Republicans became completely incapable of cooperating with each other in the national interest.

If these syndromes are not corrected by the impact of the coronavirus, then this crisis is only the first of the disasters that will eventually befall us. Polarization and paralysis will create a reciprocal effect by which governmental failure drives further political paralysis, which worsens state failure. If this pattern is continued for very long, then it will not be the extremes that will call for military dictatorship; it will be the centrists, not because they like the idea, but because everything else has failed and because military rule will seem the only way of avoiding much worse outcomes. This has been the pattern of a good many countries around the world, and contemporary Western democracies possess no magic inoculation against it. We have seen this before: in the 1920s and 1930s several European democracies failed under the impact of economic collapse, political divisions, and state paralysis.

Looming over everything is the threat of climate change, which, if unchecked, risks cataclysm in the long run and increased strains of every kind in the short to medium term. If the overwhelming scientific consensus is correct, then within the next decades we can expect multiple bad effects in the United States and southern Europe, including not only drought and wildfires but the spread of tropical diseases. The coronavirus will be only the first of the epidemics we will experience in the generations to come.

THE SCIENCE of anthropogenic climate change is by now incontrovertible, according to all the standards by which we normally assess scientific evidence. The future extent of climate change, and the precise local effects, are of course still unclear, but this is no excuse at all for a failure to act. In the first place, the extent of climate change depends chiefly on what we do—or do not do—to limit carbon emissions. Moreover, judgement about critical national security issues has always depended not on the establishment of certainties but the assessment of risks—another lesson that our unpreparedness for a pandemic is teaching us.

Among too many U.S. Republicans, however, denial of climate change hardly depends any more on evidence or rational argument. It has become a cultural marker of conservative identity—though one that has nothing at all to do with real conservative traditions and is rather driven by blind free market fundamentalism. Unfortunately, these Republican prejudices have been exacerbated by the way in which the Left has loaded onto the agenda of fighting climate change economic, political, and cultural issues that are either irrelevant to climate change or directly opposed to action: the abolition (as opposed to reform) of capitalism, and a whole rag bag of identity politics and demands for minority “empowerment.” The Green New Deal resolution presented to Congress by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey is an especially egregious and politically damaging example of this tendency.

David Rosenberg, writing in Haaretz, observes:

Climate change hits all the [Republicans’] red buttons – massive state intervention and global cooperation led by pointy-headed bureaucrats … Faced with becoming ideological Luddites, they don’t just reject the solution to climate change, they reject the science. You shouldn’t smugly assume that the left’s interest in climate change is entirely grounded in science either. It pushes all their ideological joy buttons. The difference is that recognition of climate change in the end has real science behind it, while rejection is basically the stuff of cranks.

To sufficiently overcome this divide and make real change possible, the most important priority is to extend the lessons of the coronavirus crisis and recast climate change as a national issue—a threat to U.S. national interests in the short term and to the very existence of the United States in the long term. This is an opportunity to take up Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and do what he has altogether failed to do—give it some actual national (as opposed to racial) content. Climate change is, of course, a threat to humanity in general, but U.S. elected representatives were not elected to serve humanity, and U.S. officials have not sworn an oath of loyalty to humanity. And in terms of effective action, as the response to the coronavirus has illustrated, while international co-operation is desirable, strong action by individual states within their own borders and in defense of their own populations is essential.

Faced with climate change, pandemics, and other growing threats to the United States—which are not speculative but already visibly well underway—the guiding intellectual and political watchword of intelligent, democratic, and patriotic citizens in the years to come should be national resilience on the basis of technological progress, economic prosperity, and social solidarity: a Green New Deal if you will, but in an explicitly national and nationalist form. It is indeed striking how in recent weeks some on the Left have begun to use phrases like “national resilience” and “national self-sufficiency,” which until the pandemic they would probably have dismissed as reflective of “patriarchal values” and “authoritarian chauvinism.”

SUCCESS IN meeting the coronavirus crisis and building and sustaining long-term national resilience through social solidarity will depend largely on the creation of new forms of what Jared Diamond has called national “ego strength,” and Garrett Hardin called “moral capital”: “The degree to which a community possesses interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions and technologies that mesh well with evolved psychological mechanisms and thereby enable the community to suppress or regulate selfishness and make cooperation possible.”

In the immediate future, preventing the pandemic from plunging great parts of the U.S. population into unemployment and misery on the scale of the 1930s will require a state economic response couched in terms of national solidarity and collective mutual responsibility. In the longer term, a  Green New Deal also needs to be cast in a national form not only for the sake of national unity and resilience, but because to achieve changes on this scale will require a new dispensation in U.S. politics, akin to those created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s: a new national consensus that ensures that, for several decades, both parties when in office are guided by the same basic philosophy and pursue the same basic policies. 

In the past, intelligent conservatives like Dwight Eisenhower understood that Social Security is essential to national strength and wellbeing; and the coronavirus is certainly teaching us this lesson again. By contrast, in recent decades, the idea has become firmly fixed in the minds and propaganda of both the political spectrum’s Right and Left that social security systems and state guidance of the economy were purely creations of the Left. This is useful to both sides: to the Right, it allows them to attack such systems as proto-Communist; to the Left, it allows them to take all credit for these systems. This unanimity does not mean, however, that this picture is true. In fact, conservative forces played a critical role in building social welfare. They had two goals in mind: to ward off the threat of socialist revolution, and to strengthen national solidarity and resilience in the face of possible (and as it turned out, actual) war.

The first systematic national insurance program was created by Otto von Bismarck (not exactly a socialist) in the German Empire of the 1880s. Bismarck’s social program had the full support of the German military high command; they were quite able to see that if you were going to conscript and arm millions of working-class men in order to prepare for European war, basic prudence dictated that you needed to look after their families. It should be noted, incidentally, that despite dire warnings by German capitalists, Imperial Germany’s social security system did nothing to impede economic growth.

A decade or so later, as Germany drew further and further ahead of Britain economically, the possibility of war became increasingly real, and social unrest and labor protests in Britain grew, sections of the British intellectual and political elites began to look to the German model.

The so-called “Social Imperialists” in Britain were a thoroughly eclectic bunch, drawn mainly from the imperialist wing of the Liberal Party, including Winston Churchill and the later architect of the British welfare state William Beveridge. But they also embraced Fabian socialists, including the Webbs (Sidney and Beatrice) and (intermittently) George Bernard Shaw; “one nation” Conservatives; former colonial officials (including John Buchan); and the more farsighted sections of the military elites like Field Marshal Lord Frederick Roberts (plus intellectuals and writers close to the military, like Halford Mackinder and Rudyard Kipling).

What brought them together in a loose alliance was belief in the defense of the British Empire, a conviction of the likelihood of a coming world war in which national unity would be tested to the limit and, therefore, needed to be greatly strengthened, and a deep fear of revolution, class warfare, and social disintegration. In the words of Lord Roberts (not exactly your conventional idea of a socialist): “To tens of thousands of Englishmen engaged in daily toil, the call to ‘sacrifice’ themselves for their country must seem an insult to their reason; for those conditions amid which they work make their lives already an unending sacrifice.”

At the core of Social Imperialism was also a belief in “national efficiency”: that the British state needed to be thoroughly reformed and given increased powers, including to shape and guide the economy. Or according to Winston Churchill (also not a socialist), “Germany is organised not only for war but for peace. We are organised for nothing except party politics.” National efficiency is what the United States and the West need (and have at the time of writing generally failed to show) in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

All the Social Imperialists, of both the conservative and socialist varieties, would have agreed with popular political talk show host Tucker Carlson,

[M]arket capitalism is not a religion. Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.

The Social Imperialists’ vision therefore extended beyond social insurance to urban planning, public health, and educational reform. As Lord Milner wrote,

[To sustain the Empire] you must have soundness at the core – health, intelligence, industry; and these cannot be general without a fair average standard of material well-being … Patriotism, like all the ideal sides of life, can be choked, must be choked, in the squalor and degradation of life in the slums of our great cities.

The Social Imperialists generally believed in the need for a new guided “national economy,” the need for higher progressive taxation to pay for both social reform and military preparation, and in limits on free trade to protect British industries and imperial economic unity (“imperial preference”). They were, therefore, in rebellion against the free market orthodoxy that had dominated both political parties since the repeal of the Corn Laws almost sixty years earlier. In an interesting parallel to the present, their thought developed in the context of the decline of British industry in the face of growing international competition, and the steep growth in relative importance of the City of London and the financial services industry.

In Britain, Social Imperialism—though under new names—was strengthened and eventually triumphed as a result of the wars, and especially the Second World War, in which the Conservatives and Labour worked together in government. In the course of that war, Labour became deeply patriotic and the Conservatives for a generation and more became “One Nation” conservatives, committed to the idea of social solidarity. The creation of social security in Britain was thus intrinsically linked to the creation of what we would call today “national resilience.” And it worked: British democracy is still around. Unlike so many other European countries, it did not succumb to the catastrophes of the first half of the twentieth century, and played a key role in saving them from those catastrophes.

IN THE United States, the impulses which in Britain produced Social Imperialism fed into the Progressive movement and Theodore Roosevelt’s and Herbert Croly’s concept of “the New Nationalism”—though with relatively less focus on welfare and more on the regulation of capitalism and national efficiency. The situation in the United States that produced this tendency had certain analogies to the U.S. situation on the eve of the pandemic, as well as important differences. It followed a period of great economic growth, the fruits of which had been very unevenly distributed. By 1896, it was estimated that one percent of the population owned over half of the wealth in the United States, and that twelve percent owned 90 percent. 

As today, the resulting concentration of wealth and monopolization of industries threatened some of the American republic’s founding values: the idea of a basically middle-class (or in Jefferson’s older formulation, “yeoman farmer”) society with a rough equality of conditions (something which Tocqueville thought an essential basis of American democracy), and equality of opportunity for all citizens in a free economy. 

Corruption had always been part of U.S. public life; but the new huge concentration of wealth meant a huge concentration of political power in the hands of “robber barons” like John Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Carnegie—just as today, huge political power is concentrated in the hands of super-rich individuals and companies whom the Supreme Court has allowed virtually unlimited ability to fund politicians and campaigns.

This power helped the great corporations to form “trusts” aimed at creating monopolies in particular sectors, while the railroads used their domination to impose grossly unequal tariffs between different regions. Out of this came the image of the “Octopus” (the title of Frank Norris’ novel of 1901 about the struggle between Californian farmers and the Pacific and Southwestern Railway), a monster whose tentacles stretched into every part of politics and the economy.

Simultaneously there took place—as in recent decades—massive immigration to the United States from Europe by culturally very different people. This caused deep anxiety in the older population. The enormous growth of American cities led to worry over the increasing role in politics of urban political machines run by immigrants (Tammany Hall), which merged with anger at their corruption; outrage at the dreadful conditions in the urban slums; and  fear of urban revolt, of epidemic disease, and of disasters like the Chicago and Boston fires.

In Herbert Croly’s analysis:

[T]he political corruption, the unwise economic organization, and the legal support afforded to certain economic privileges are all under existing conditions due to the malevolent social influence of individual and incorporated American wealth; and it is equally true that these abuses, and the excessive “money power” with which they are associated, have originated in the peculiar freedom which the American tradition and organization have granted to the individual. Up to a certain point that freedom has been and still is beneficial. Beyond that point it is not merely harmful; it is by way of being fatal … The experience of the last generation plainly shows that the American economic and social system cannot be allowed to take care of itself, and that the automatic harmony of the individual and the public interest, which is the essence of the Jeffersonian democratic creed, has proved to be an illusion.

Like the British Social Imperialists, but very unlike most social reformers of today, Croly’s work was also profoundly nationalist, dedicated to the American national interest and to instilling in the American state and population—and especially the new immigrants and their children—a new sense of national purpose:

The consequences, then, of converting our American national destiny into a national purpose are beginning to be revolutionary. When the Promise of American life is conceived as a national ideal, whose fulfilment is a matter of artful and laborious work, the effect thereof is substantially to identify the national purpose with the social problem.

And while Croly’s grander hopes were not fulfilled, the successful integration of the immigrants (in part through a vastly expanded state education system which the Progressives had championed) helped create the national consensus which a generation later supported the New Deal and the “trust-busting” measures of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, which greatly reduced monopolization.

Croly’s work formed the basis for Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism”: the programme of the short-lived Progressive Party with which Roosevelt attempted to regain the presidency in 1912, set out in a famous speech of 1910 in Osawatomie, Kansas. His advocacy of social and political reform was underpinned by an ardent and convincing personal commitment to nationalism.

Roosevelt’s platform included points which are of great relevance today, including attacks on the power of special interests and monopolies, and a demand that business executives should be held personally responsible for the crimes of their corporations. Roosevelt called for the restoration of what he called the “square deal”: the principle that in America, hard, honest work was adequately rewarded, that every hardworking American had the opportunity to get ahead, and that the equality of the vote should not be subverted by the rich:

The man who wrongly holds that every human right is secondary to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare, who rightly maintains that every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.

COMMON TO both the Social Imperialists in Britain and the New Nationalists in the United States was a recognition that capitalism left to itself is incapable of regulating and limiting itself. This is hardly a lesson that should need teaching after the experience of the past two hundred years. Were it not for state intervention, seven-year-old children would still be working in coal mines. Or, alternatively, a communist revolution would have destroyed capitalism and ushered in a different set of horrors. The task then as it is now is not to overthrow capitalism (whatever many of the capitalists themselves may profess to believe), but to save capitalism from itself. The coronavirus is only a particularly sudden and savage reminder of this truth; certainly, there is no chance at all that undirected laissez-faire capitalism will save us from its economic consequences.

The nation state has to play a central role in regulating the economy, based on the wider interests of the state, the people, and the democratic political order. Unregulated financial speculation inevitably leads to crashes like those of 1929 and 2008 and the renewed structural weaknesses that are being revealed by the pandemic. Even more importantly, without state and social controls, the capitalist search for increased profit tends to inevitably result in the immiseration of large parts of the population, the destruction of the environment, and the disintegration of society. Wise capitalists see this themselves, though it seems they must relearn the lesson over and over again.

The first objective of states pursuing reforms, including the policies needed to limit climate change, is to raise the money to pay for action. Globalization, deregulation, and the power of the global overclass mean that even very powerful states once again face an ancient challenge in this regard. If the United States and other states try to deal with the coronavirus economic crisis simply by borrowing and printing money, our economic systems will be left disastrously weakened.

In the words of Patrick J. Greary, “the West was faced with the paradox of immensely wealthy individuals and an extremely poor treasury.” The United States and European Union in the first quarter of the twenty-first century? No, the Western Roman Empire in the last quarter of the fourth century. The great senatorial landowners had used their power largely to emancipate themselves from paying taxes, thereby passing the burden on to the mass of the population. So crushing did this burden become that it has been suggested that, by the fifth century, many Roman citizens in the West actually preferred to be conquered by the barbarians. The early modern state was shaped through the struggle with such “overmighty subjects”—who never went away and are now back with a vengeance, though in a new form.

The weakness of some modern states like Pakistan is intrinsically related to their inability to raise taxes from the population in general and the elites in particular. This creates a vicious circle in which the state is unable to pay for services to the population (except for the army, of course), which means that the population sees no point in paying taxes and does not believe that the state has any real right to ask for them, leading to further mass tax evasion. The inability to raise taxes from the rich, therefore, strikes at the very heart of the legitimacy of the state and the moral contract between the state and its people. The results of this lack of revenue for health services in Pakistan and elsewhere is now going to be revealed in a dreadful way.

Another essential role of the state is in building strategic (but not immediately profitable) infrastructure, which a capitalism focused on short-term profit is incapable of creating. This begins with transportation infrastructure. In the United States, and still more in Europe and Asia, the state played a critical role in building railways, either for directly military purposes (as with the British railways in India) or to create industrial economies capable of supporting modern militaries and sustaining economic competition with rivals. Thus, in the twenty years before 1914, spending on railways came second only to spending on the military in the state budgets of the German Empire.

 In the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s, both the role of the state in helping to create infrastructure and drive technological innovation was almost universally acknowledged, as was the link to national security. Eisenhower’s Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was publicly intended to create “A National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” This built on its predecessor, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944—not coincidentally, passed during World War II. Under the Act of 1956, 90 percent of the cost of the interstate highway system was paid by the Federal government out of taxes.

Indeed, the role of the state (at both federal and state level) in building and maintaining transport infrastructure has come to be generally accepted. The problem is that it can no longer raise enough money to pay for this—as is only too miserably apparent from journeys through the country. The complete inability of the United States to compete with China and Europe in building high speed rail lines is not only a massive obstacle to effective action against climate change. It is also deeply economically inefficient; as anyone who travels from the Bay Area to Los Angeles by plane and automobile can testify. As Senator Elizabeth Warren and others have mentioned (but not yet with nearly enough resonance, alas), one aspect of a Green New Deal is the urgent need to strengthen U.S. technology and infrastructure in order to compete with China. This at least ought to be a national goal that could unite all Americans, as it did during the space race with the Soviet Union.

A striking example of a national infrastructure program with intrinsic links to national security is the Israeli approach to water, which virtually embodies the principle of “national efficiency.” Water shortages will be a critical issue for much of humanity even before the effects of climate change really kick in. Israel has led the world in this field, through pioneering achievements in drip irrigation, self-powered desalination plants using reverse-osmosis, and wastewater recycling. As a result, Israel has been spared the effects of the droughts that have plagued the Middle East over the past generation; pride in “making the desert bloom” is a key part of Israeli national identity.

In Israel, 85 percent of purified sewage is recycled—more than three times the rate in Spain, the next country on this scale, and around eight times the proportion in the United States. The most important factor of all has been getting the population to save water by making them pay high prices for it. This was only politically possible because of an awareness rigorously instilled in the Israeli population. As the writer David Hazony describes it, “‘Every drop counts.’ Every Israeli you meet has had it drummed into them that faucets shouldn’t be left on. Water conservation has been a part of elementary-school education in Israel for generations … It’s just a part of the culture.”

This consciousness does not exist in isolation but is part of a deep sense of nationalism and national insecurity. The Israeli approach to water also contradicts the argument of Bjorn Lomborg and others that it would be better to wait to introduce measures against climate change because future generations will be richer and more able to pay for them. Israel is, of course, a rich country, but it was a lot poorer sixty years ago when it laid the foundations of its water conservation strategy. And had it not done so, it would be a poorer country today, with a lower quality of life and lower national security. Or as Theodore Roosevelt put it,

National efficiency has many factors. It is a necessary result of the principle of conservation widely applied. In the end, it will determine our failure or success as a nation … Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children.

In 2011, President Barack Obama spoke in Osawatomie, Kansas. Referencing Roosevelt’s reformist programme, he reminded people that this was a former Republican president and compared the illegitimate power of the rich then and now. Obama’s ability to draw on bipartisan American national traditions were part of the reason for his being elected, and then re-elected, the first black president of the United States.

In his speech, however, Obama did not really evoke the spirit of nationalism, of national efficiency, and of competition with other nations that permeated Roosevelt’s attitudes. A future U.S. president will need to combine Obama’s appeal to core U.S. traditions with much greater radicalism, backed by a much stronger appeal to nationalism.

The challenge for U.S. and Western politicians in meeting the short-term crisis of the coronavirus and the long-term crisis of climate change is, therefore, to create by democratic means the sort of national consensus that will make radical and consistent strategies possible. The first New Deal, which saved American capitalism from itself, and went on to save Western democracy in World War II, was founded on two things: a recognition that capitalism had fallen into deep crisis; and the creation of a new long-term national consensus.

Every opportunity should be seized to present the economic response to the coronavirus crisis as a great bipartisan national project, intended not just to save masses of Americans from economic desperation in the short term, but to lay the basis for a new national consensus and a new national strategy that will strengthen America and American democracy in the face of future crises.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan did not just win elections and form administrations. They created new dispensations which lasted for a generation and more. These figures were achieved not through party loyalism, ideological arrogance, and purism, but by appealing to voters who had previously been on the other side. Roosevelt won by attracting millions of former Republican voters. Reagan famously won by attracting former New Deal Democrats.

Perhaps most importantly, both Democrats and Republicans need to have the moral courage to escape from their ideological comfort zones, even if this means losing friends and offending comrades. The challenge set by Herbert Croly more than a century ago is once again true today:

[J]ust in so far as Americans timidly or superstitiously refuse to accept their national opportunity and responsibility, they will not deserve the names either of freemen or of loyal democrats. There comes a time in the history of every nation, when its independence of spirit vanishes, unless it emancipates itself in some measure from its traditional illusions; and that time is fast approaching for the American people.

Anatol Lieven is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and a fellow of the New America Foundation. This essay is based on the author’s new book, Climate Change and the Nation State: The Case for Nationalism in a Warming World, which is published this month by Oxford University Press.

The National Interest (Washington DC)  
April 26th 2020