Two former National Security Council staffers chart a course for U.S. success in the 21st century.
Playing off Henry Luce’s famous phrase, Hachigian and Sutphen imagine a very different next century, in which a successful America must eschew dominance in favor of shared billing with the “pivotal powers”—Russia, India, China, Japan and the European Union—which, together with the United States, make up more than half the world’s population and three-quarters of the global economy. Without wholly discounting the possibility of future armed conflict, the authors argue that in a world where all pivotal powers are dependent on free trade and global stability for economic growth, the United States should assume long-term relationships with each and explore avenues of constructive cooperation. With all powers vulnerable to the same security threats—jihadists, infectious disease, loose nukes—the United States will find safety in numbers through creative alliances. Abandoning the temptation to act unilaterally will not be easy in a country where domestic problems are too often blamed on foreign scapegoats, where Congress focuses on narrow constituent interests and where the media boils over with often uninformed opinion. Still, the authors insist, “Joe Six-Pack” is really on their side, weary of America going it alone and eager for an unprecedented level of international cooperation. Their argument, conducted in the tone of an earnest college term paper, features a conventional critique of the Bush administration’s foreign policy and implicitly calls for the restoration of the Clinton/Albright/Berger perspective on world affairs. Strong American leadership, they aver, must tend first to the country’s own domestic problems—inadequate worker protection, a broken healthcare system, crumbling infrastructure, underperforming educational institutions, etc.—and then allow the other pivotal powers a larger voice in the new world order, recognizing their legitimate desires for prestige, influence and freedom to maneuver. Hachigian and Sutphen effectively outline the benefits of this new, multipolar world even as they soft-peddle its many hazards.
A useful summary of conventional Democratic Establishment foreign-policy thinking, likely to gain currency as the race for the White House heats up.