Stephen Wertheim

Senior Fellow
American Statecraft Program
Stephen Wertheim is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


PhD, MPhil, MA; History; Columbia University
AB, History, Harvard University







Stephen Wertheim is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a historian of U.S. foreign policy and international order and writes widely about contemporary problems in American grand strategy.

He has published scholarly research on U.S. ideas and projects of diplomatic engagement, international law, world organization, colonial empire, and humanitarian intervention. In his book, Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy (Harvard University Press, 2020), he reveals how U.S. leaders made a decision early in World War II to pursue global military dominance long into the future. 

In 2020, Prospect magazine named him one of “the world’s 50 top thinkers for the Covid-19 age.” His essays on contemporary issues have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. His writing may be viewed here.
Wertheim is currently a visiting faculty fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School. Before coming to Carnegie, he was director of grand strategy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which he co-founded in 2019. He also held faculty positions in history at Columbia University and Birkbeck, University of London, and postdoctoral research fellowships at Princeton University and King’s College, University of Cambridge. 

He received a PhD from Columbia University in 2015 and an AB from Harvard University in 2007.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post December 23, 2021
    Acting Too Aggressively On Ukraine May Endanger It — And Taiwan

    American involvement in a war for Ukraine might also have broader consequences: It could damage peace in Asia. Many factors inform Beijing’s calculations toward Taiwan; events in Ukraine are unlikely to be decisive.

  • Foreign Affairs October 19, 2021
    Is U.S. Foreign Policy Too Hostile to China?

    Experts weigh in on whether the United States is too hostile toward China.

  • Op-Ed Defense Priorities September 10, 2021
    Lessons from Afghanistan

    America’s war in Afghanistan exhibits the danger of prolonging a combat mission past the point where its objective can be clearly defined and verifiably achieved, even when a record of success to date makes the cost of continuing into the future appear to be low.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs September 9, 2021
    Biden the Realist

    Biden is certainly no radical. But after decades of foreign policy radicalism that has created a string of disasters, his approach may at least begin to revitalize the United States’ role in the world.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy September 8, 2021
    Did 9/11 Change the United States?

    But it is finally possible to say, 20 years later, that 9/11 has shattered the U.S. pretension to global indispensability. Two decades more and the United States might yet become a nation among nations, no longer lording its power over others to get what it needs.

  • Op-Ed New York Times August 25, 2021
    End the Imperial Presidency

    The responsibility to declare war rightly belongs to Congress, and if Congress keeps passing the buck, then President Biden, his successor, or the voting public ought to insist that it fulfill its obligations.

  • Residents pass an Afghan flag flying on a hill top in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.
    August 18, 2021 Русский
    Afghanistan Under the Taliban

    Experts from throughout Carnegie’s global network assess the stark humanitarian toll, the regional ramifications, and the diplomatic challenges posed by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post July 30, 2021
    Shaking the Foreign Policy Consensus (What Trump Got Right)

    Donald Trump rejected the establishment consensus that the United States has the right and duty to guard international order by force.

  • Op-Ed Prospect Magazine July 14, 2021
    The Legacy of 9/11

    Twenty years after terrorists infiltrated the world’s sole superpower, turned passenger aircraft into guided missiles and reduced the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon to rubble, has the truism of that moment—that 9/11 “changed everything”—proven to be false?

  • The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie September 1, 2021
    9/11, Afghanistan, and Failed Foreign Policy

    A conversation about how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were doomed to failure from their earliest days, what policy makers should be focused on as we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and why a fundamental rethink of U.S. military and foreign policy is not only urgent but, after a radical shift in public opinion, eminently possible.

  • Opinion Has It August 31, 2021
    The End of the Indispensable Nation

    Twenty years ago, the September 11 terrorist attacks invigorated America’s sense of itself as the “indispensable nation.” But its actions since then have failed to improve global security and have endangered those who it claimed to be helping.

  • Deep State Radio August 30, 2021
    As We Approach the Afghanistan Deadline: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

    It has been difficult to have a serious, balanced conversation about what the United States and the Biden administration has done right in managing the exit from Afghanistan and what has been done wrong.

  • NPR’s All Things Considered August 27, 2021
    Terror Attack Should Not Lead To More War

    Biden’s vow to hold attackers accountable shouldn’t send the United States into a war on terror.

  • ABC’s Minefield August 26, 2021
    Was U.S. Failure in Afghanistan Inevitable?

    The collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the almost unimpeded resurgence of the Taliban occurred with a speed that confounded even the most pessimistic assessments of how long the government of Ashraf Ghani could survive following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States’ military presence.

  • WBUR August 24, 2021
    Former Officials Assess the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan

    Well what President Biden has done, inadvertently of course, is to put the band back together. They’re back. The Taliban are back. Al-Qaeda will be back with them.

  • Smerconish Podcast August 2, 2021
    What Did Trump Do Right?

    I did understand over the course of the (Trump) presidency that we were dealing with a different actor on foreign policy. Somebody who had a different way of thinking about America's role in the world and speaking about it than did the establishment and did his predecessors.

  • Bloggingheads July 15, 2021
    Is It Time for a Revolution in U.S. Foreign Policy?

    An assessment of President Biden’s foreign policy thus far.

  • American Prestige July 9, 2021
    Ghosting Afghanistan

    Did the military intentionally botch the withdrawal? Has the imperial frontier contracted in any meaningful way? Will the Taliban gain legitimacy with the Afghan people?

  • American Prestige July 9, 2021
    Ghosting Afghanistan

    A discussion of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and an in-depth interview with Stephen Wertheim discussing his new book “Tomorrow, the World.”


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