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A nation must think before it acts.
The principal drivers of international economic policy (IEP) in all presidential administrations have been the promotion of domestic economic welfare and the international security interests of the United States. During most of the past half-century, however, security interests took precedence as policies were crafted to promote the economic strength of America’s Cold War allies, frequently by expanding their trade opportunities in a multilateral context. The size of the U.S. market gave this policy considerable leverage. International security interests were also mainstays for U.S. aid and assistance programs to many poorer countries that formed the contestable battleground of the Cold War. Indeed, during the most vigorous phase of the conflict with communism, one might have easily concluded, paraphrasing Clausewitz, that American IEP was “a mere continuation of politics by other means.” The end of the conflict with communism, however, has shifted the relative importance of these two drivers of American international economic policy.