Your editorial about Trump’s “belligerent unilateralism” ignores an important contrary viewpoint (“ Pompeo’s threadbare defence of US leadership”, December 8). In his book Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, discussing the balance-of-power system practised for many years in Europe and elsewhere, draws an analogy to Adam Smith’s economic invisible hand: “By pursuing its own selfish interests, each state was presumed to contribute to progress, as if some unseen hand were guaranteeing that freedom of choice for each state assured wellbeing for all.”

Mr Kissinger is at pains to show this theory has not always worked in practice, but it does indicate that nations acting in self-interest do not necessarily harm global security or
co-operation. Each country that has joined Nato, for example, has done so not out of altruism or to support a liberal international order but because joint defence was perceived to be in its national interest.

Michael DiGiacomo
New York, NY, US

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