Commentary | Center for American Security

America First Foreign Policy Principles in Practice

April 4, 2022

What is America First foreign policy?

America Independent and Strong. America First requires an America that is independent and secure, ensuring first that America’s supply chains and economy are stable and strong and its people are safe. Through internal strength, we are best poised to lead and engage in the world and accomplish more for the American people and the peace, prosperity, and freedom of others. This position of strength allows us to engage in effective efforts to secure allies and deter adversaries in such a way that American interests are secured, rather than undermined, in the process.

  • America Leading. America First is America leading.
    • Leadership requires a strong military, transactional alliances, and a mission clearly grounded in the direct interests of the American people, with every engagement reaping a tangible benefit for Americans.
    • Leadership also requires a strong economy that is energy independent and free from supply chain dependence upon adversaries like Russia and Communist China.
    • Leadership requires a pragmatic approach with careful evaluation of events around the globe. It requires clearly defining both the interests of the American people and the mission objectives before acting.
  • American Realism. America First recognizes the prudential limits of American power and rejects the failed policies from the past.
    • Realism rejects actions that send American troops into endless wars without hesitation and without consideration of clear objectives that benefit the American people.
    • Realism rejects isolationism and its mistaken belief that America can bury its head in the sand rather than deal with the outside world.
    • Realism recognizes that America is a force for good in the world and rejects the tendency of foreign policy elites to blame America rather than serve America.
  • American Action. America First requires bold decisions to support American interests and enhance the capability, credibility, and purpose of American allies.
    • Deploying all elements of America’s statecraft tools, from economic to intelligence, to protect American interests and ensure its security.
    • Maintaining the world’s most powerful military guided by achievable mission objectives.
    • Removing terrorists from the battlefield.
    • Striking personnel or sites posing a threat to allies or use of weapons of mass destruction.
    • Pressing Europe to decrease dependency on and increase deterrence of Russia.
    • Standing firmly with America’s close ally, Israel.
    • Pursuing a bold new path to regional peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
    • Imposing historic penalties on China for chronic unfair trade practices, stealing American technologies, and polluting the world’s air and oceans.
  • America’s Partners and Allies. All parties must share risks and costs within alliances rationally and sustainably, thus strengthening and modernizing the alliance along the way. Alliance members who engage in this process in good faith are in a much better position today to defend their people and deter aggression. Americans are more likely to support those who support themselves. Allies and partners with greater independent deterrent capability and more secure supply chains are better poised to take the lead in support of their neighbors and in deterring outside aggression. By building on their strengths, allies and partners allow Americans greater flexibility and ability to support in times of need. 

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