Video On Demand

Book Release for The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership Through Soft Power by Daniel F. Runde

February 13, 2023 • 10:00 – 11:00 am EST

Please join the Project on Prosperity and Development for the release of The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership through Soft Power. Authored by CSIS Senior Vice President Daniel F. Runde, it is the first book in decades to look at America’s non-military power through the lens of great-power competition. It calls for supporting broad-based economic growth; supporting good governance and anti-corruption; long-term training; differentiating our approaches in middle-income countries and fragile states; and stronger US leadership in the multilateral system. 

The global community is in a new age of great power competition. This competition will not be fought in Beijing or Moscow, rather it will be contested in Ukraine, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Daniel Runde makes the case for renewed American engagement in the developing world for our own prosperity and security, but also because foreign assistance and other forms of soft power are largely where this competition is going to be contested. The developing world has changed over the last several decades – it is richer, freer, and has a lot more agency. Russia and China can fill vacuums: digital vacuums, trade vacuums, vaccine vacuums and infrastructure vacuums. The United States and our allies must offer a positive agenda that meets the needs and aspirations of partner countries. If this is not done, these countries will turn to Russia and China.

Leadership is a choice, and Daniel Runde argues that the United States, in partnership with its friends, allies, the private sector, civil society, and average voters, should seek to be on the side of peoples’ aspirations and hopes as often as possible. The book calls for a fundamental review and rethink of how and why the United States uses soft power and addresses several issues that have emerged over the last several decades. The book hopes to spark a national conversation about how and for what end we will use our non-military forms of our power overseas given the challenges and opportunities in front of us.

The book closes with a call for major fixes to the current system of soft power: the way we are organized, the "plumbing" issues, how we dole out monies, and personnel issues. The United States needs a 20-year strategy for our soft power that works for Republicans and Democrats and will respond to the challenges of today.

This event was made possible through general support to CSIS.

Contact Information

Daniel F. Runde
Senior Vice President; William A. Schreyer Chair; Director, Project on Prosperity and Development
Conor M. Savoy

Conor M. Savoy

Former Senior Fellow, Project on Prosperity and Development