The American Interest first published on September 1, 2005 amid the crisis triggered by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the controversy over the subsequent war it provoked. It was clear that there was a huge gulf of misunderstanding between Americans and their counterparts in other democratic countries, to the point that many non-Americans felt they did not recognize the country they had worked with and counted on for many decades. The same could be said for many Americans looking at the world beyond their shores. Our magazine sought to explain America to the world, and the world to Americans.
We face another such watershed today, after the 2016 Brexit votes and the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. The entire framework within which the United States operated since 1945—the “liberal international order” enjoining economic openness and political solidarity among the world’s liberal democracies—has been questioned. These challenges come not just from authoritarian powers like China and Russia, but from within established democracies themselves, including the United States. What attacks the liberal order abroad challenges it at home, as well. American society itself is polarized as never before, with the axis of confrontation shifting from the ideological poles of the 20th century to new ones defined increasingly by identity, nation, and religion.
In light of these changes, the original mission of the magazine in its print and online editions remains as vital as ever: to analyze America in the world, not just its politics but, as our original statement of purpose noted, “the society from which those politics arise—including America’s literature, music and art, as well as its values, public beliefs and his historical imagination.” But we are relaunching The American Interest, both as a magazine and a web site, as American society changes before our eyes, along with technology, demographics, globalization, and ideas.
The American Interest was never conceived as simply a foreign policy journal, and in its relaunch we hope to pay even closer attention to American politics and society. In the coming weeks and months we will be adding a series of new columnists and writers as regular contributors.
In recent years, media success has centered on staking out a unique niche, usually on the basis of taking a more extreme or shriller position than the existing voices. But we remain resolutely committed to evidence-based arguments and open contestation over values. Viable democracies require deliberation and disagreement. It is our hope that reestablishing a vital center will reconnect America with itself, and America with the world as we confront similar challenges.