In 1989, The National Interest published Francis Fukuyama's famous and controversial article, "The End of History." In covering the fall of the Soviet Union, The National Interest's featured contributors included not only specialists like Richard Pipes and Robert Conquest but also Nobel Prize-winning novelist Saul Bellow. The magazine was one of the first to devote attention to questions such as geo-economics and in more recent issues has explored concepts such as "superpower fatigue" and "developmental realism."
NI has an international readership, and excerpts from its articles have been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, The Australian, International Herald Tribune, Shin Dong-A, The Spectator, and Austria's Europaische Rundschau, as well as on online sites such as Inosmi.ru.
In 2005, 10 of the 14 members of NI's editorial board, led by Fukuyama and upset by the Nixon Center's changes to editorial policy, decided to leave the journal and create a rival publication, The American Interest. This split was seen as representative of a larger schism among Republicans and the end of an uneasy alliance between neoconservatives and realists that had characterized the Reagan years. In recent issues articles broadly critical of the direction of foreign policy under the George W. Bush administration have been published by senior members of the old Republican party establishment, most recently Brent Scowcroft and James Baker.
While The National Interest still has contributions from neoconservative and liberal authors, it has in recent issues articulated growing opposition to a number of Bush Administration policies, including skepticism about democracy promotion and the feasibility of taking military action against Iran. The magazine also tends to support continued engagement with China and Russia despite non-democratic practices at home and challenges to U.S. policies abroad. Articles by a number of long-time conservative thinkers--Robert Tucker and Graham Fuller among them--have questioned the conservative credentials of the administration, and the magazine has tended to gravitate toward positions taken by Senator Chuck Hagel, to a lesser extent Dick Lugar (with the exception of his stance on policy toward Russia) and John Warner.
In 2006, the magazine adopted a new, glossier cover format, based around a central image and tagline, making it look more like the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs or Foreign Policy than Foreign Affairs or Commentary, which have only text on their covers. The magazine also added daily online content to its website.
While more expensive on a per-page basis, in 2006 and early 2007, The National Interest is typically shorter (about 100 pages) and cheaper ($7 per issue) than Foreign Affairs and, to a lesser extent, The American Interest. Articles in NI are substantially shorter than those in, for example, Foreign Affairs. In the January/February 2007 issues of the magazines, no article in NI exceeded 10 pages, while all eight items in the essays section of Foreign Affairs exceeded 10 pages, with some exceeding 20 pages in length.
The advisory council members include Morton Abramowitz, Graham Allison, Conrad Black, John Mearsheimer, Daniel Pipes, and Dov Zakheim. The contributing editors include: Aluf Benn, Ian Bremmer, Ted Galen Carpenter, Anatol Lieven, John Hulsman, Pang Zhongying, Alexey Pushkov, David B. Rivkin, Jr., and Ray Takeyh. Ximena Ortiz serves as a senior editor.
Alexis Debat resigned as a contributing editor in September 2007 after revelations appeared in the French and American press that he had fabricated interviews with leading U.S. political figures for the French journal Politique Internationale.