fter 9/11, the United States reduced its role in the world to one big idea: prosecuting the “global war on terrorism.” Inevitably, terrorism, which is a tactic, not a philosophy, failed to provide a universal organizing principle for U.S. security. Now American leaders face a wicked dilemma: how to recalibrate America’s strategy to meet myriad complex challenges with diminished power. A sobering agenda besets today’s crisis managers: leaving Iraq more secure; stanching Afghanistan’s declining order; closing down Pakistan’s safe havens; preventing an Indo-Pakistan war; averting the stark choice between an “Iranian bomb or bombing Iran”;
rebuilding a fractured Arab-Israeli peace; balancing North Korea’s twin dangers of proliferation and instability; forging a limited nuclear partnership with Russia while tightrope-walking over its “near abroad”; preserving the non-use of weapons of mass destruction; overhauling the international financial architecture; forging new approaches to complex global challenges such as energy and environmental security—and others, including strategic surprises— will require tailored approaches, in-depth knowledge, and strategic patience. Conflating disparate challenges under a single banner will not make them more manageable. We AP Images (Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama approaches media to make statement on Capitol Hill
GLOBAL STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT 2009
R E C A L I B R AT I N G A M E R I C A N P O W E R
will have to do many things well, and we might begin by recognizing that today’s immediate “crises” are inseparable from larger tectonic shifts. This Global Strategic Assessment has focused on eight global trends driving tomorrow’s complex security environment and five pathways to dealing with them. The challenges amount to a paradigm shift, and policymakers may increasingly find themselves operating in terra incognita. First, even prior to the subprime...