Last week U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a bold bid for history’s mantle. Meeting on the eve of the G-7 summit, they released a “revitalized” Atlantic Charter, rededicating their governments to the defense of an open, rule-bound world. Like the original version, drafted by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in August 1941, during a secret wartime rendezvous off the coast of Newfoundland, the New Atlantic Charter seeks to rally the West at a time of global crisis. Whether it has a similar, enduring influence is likely to depend more on domestic U.S. political developments than on global geopolitical trends.

The original Atlantic Charter was not a formal treaty—indeed, it was not even signed—but rather a short statement of principles outlining the political and moral foundations for a just, peaceful and prosperous world. The idea for the charter was Roosevelt’s, born…

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