What does it mean to exercise “restraint” in foreign policy? Increasingly, the term is associated with the use of military force. With campaign promises to “end forever wars,” extricate the United States from “unwinnable conflicts,” and rely first and foremost on tools of diplomacy and alliances, President Joe Biden has indicated a strong preference for a more restrained approach to U.S. grand strategy. Restraint has found increasing bipartisan support in Washington, D.C., with substantial numbers of progressives on the left and “America First” populists supporting reductions in U.S. interventions in the internal politics of other countries.
But should the United States demonstrate restraint in other, non-military areas of foreign policy?