5 Top Reads

Our Top Weekend Reads

Why Biden thinks the way he does about foreign policy, what the future holds for an America on the brink, and what the Cold War policy of containment means for our current moment—all from our latest magazine issue.

By , an assistant editor at Foreign Policy.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up as he leaves Pennsylvania Hospital after a follow up appointment at the radiology department December 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up as he leaves a hospital in Philadelphia on Dec. 12, 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Many commentators have asked when the United States will produce another diplomatic genius like Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski. But Heather Hurlburt argues that the next formidable American statesman is hiding in plain sight: It’s President-elect Joe Biden. No, he’s not a man of theoretical minutiae, but he’s all about human connection—which is just as important in constructing a truly diplomatic global order.

Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria offers his road map for how Biden can achieve his promise to “build back better” in an interview with FP editor at large Jonathan Tepperman. 

And a survey of foreign-policy experts offers predictions for the next 50 years of U.S. leadership.

Many commentators have asked when the United States will produce another diplomatic genius like Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski. But Heather Hurlburt argues that the next formidable American statesman is hiding in plain sight: It’s President-elect Joe Biden. No, he’s not a man of theoretical minutiae, but he’s all about human connection—which is just as important in constructing a truly diplomatic global order.

Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria offers his road map for how Biden can achieve his promise to “build back better” in an interview with FP editor at large Jonathan Tepperman. 

And a survey of foreign-policy experts offers predictions for the next 50 years of U.S. leadership.

Here are Foreign Policys top weekend reads. 


Joe Biden in Washington on Dec. 14., 2017.

Biden in Washington on Dec. 14, 2017.Erik Madigan Heck/Trunk Archive

1. Inside Joe Biden’s Foreign-Policy Worldview

The president-elect has been active in shaping U.S. foreign policy for the past 50 years, but he’s hardly ever listed as one of the country’s great diplomatic minds. That’s because Biden isn’t an intellectual. But he prioritizes relationships over tasks—a skill that is needed now more than ever, Heather Hurlburt writes. 


2. America and the World: How to Build Back Better

Foreign Policy was founded in the wake of the Vietnam War, as the United States was enmeshed in fiery debates about the future of its foreign policy. Fifty years later, a lot has changed. But as the country emerges from the Trump era, it faces a similar reflective moment about what comes next. Fareed Zakaria shares his thoughts in a Q&A with FP’s Jonathan Tepperman.


U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, arrive at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, arrive at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

3. The Next 50 Years of Foreign Policy

As a publication, we’ve written at length about the foreign policy of the past half-century. But what do the next 50 years hold? We asked scores of experts for their best guesses, who present some predictions on the future of U.S. leadership for your time capsule. (Spoiler: China is rising.) 


4. The Return of Containment

The Cold War strategy of containment was perhaps the most successful U.S. diplomatic venture to date. While it won’t be sufficient to shield the United States from its burgeoning clash with China, it still offers lessons that could be repurposed in the present day, Deborah Welch Larson writes.   


5. When U.S. Foreign Policy Went Wrong

To say that the United States has made some bad foreign-policy decisions in its history would be an understatement. The very worst is the country’s abandonment of vital institutions such as peacekeeping operations and the global health system, Charli Carpenter writes.

Allison Meakem is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @allisonmeakem

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