Check out Robert Wilson’s essay on "progressive realism" in the Sunday NYT.
The basic idea is that …
… the national interest can be served by constraints on America’s behavior when they constrain other nations as well. This logic covers the spectrum of international governance, from global warming (we’ll cut carbon dioxide emissions if you will) to war (we’ll refrain from it if you will).
And it is based on a fundamental change in international relations:
[T]echnology has been making the world’s nations more interdependent — or, as game theorists put it, more non-zero-sum. That is, America’s fortunes are growing more closely correlated with the fortunes of people far away; fewer games have simple win-lose outcomes, and more have either win-win or lose-lose outcomes.
This principle lies at the heart of progressive realism. A correlation of fortunes — being in the same boat with other nations in matters of economics, environment, security — is what makes international governance serve national interest. It is also what makes enlightened self-interest de facto humanitarian.