We at The Philanthropy Roundtable were lucky enough to hear directly from retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster in October. He had just released his new book, Battlegrounds, and joined us to discuss how America could and should defend democracy through principled foreign policy.
After sharing his perspective about how America became overconfident in its post-Cold War assumptions about how the international order would develop, McMaster traced how “strategic narcissism” led the United States to disengage from the world stage, making it possible for asymmetric warfare to rise, for military buildups to occur in authoritarian countries, and ultimately to create a shift in power from free countries to those that are unfree. He called for a return to strategic competence combined with empathy and confidence when it comes to re-engaging with the international order.
Then he shared much more. He turned to speak about America, from the inside. Given the year we have had, it was a rare opportunity to hear his perspective on how we’re doing as a nation given the events of 2020. He eloquently spoke of our history, our ideals, and our flaws. He talked about America’s uniqueness, and how we can rebuild our trust here at home in spite of our strong divisions. His vision is that we can rekindle hope and restore national pride. Defending democracy is just as much a principled domestic issue, in his view, as it is a principled foreign policy issue.
After his talk, McMaster was joined by Mark Dubowitz from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Jim Hake from Spirit of America.