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It is currently fashionable to predict a decline in the United States' power. But the United States is not in absolute decline, and in relative terms, there is a reasonable probability that it will remain more powerful than any other state in the coming decades.
To meet the range of challenges facing the United States and the world, Washington will have to strengthen and amplify its civilian power abroad. Diplomacy and development must work in tandem, offering countries the support to craft their own solutions.
The U.S. government is incurring debt at an unprecedented rate. If U.S. leaders do not act to curb their debt addiction, then the global capital markets will do so for them, forcing a sharp and punitive adjustment in fiscal policy. The result will be an age of American austerity.
Most nations have adjusted their foreign policies to focus on economic security, but the United States has not. Today's leaders should adapt to an economic-centric world and look to Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower for guidance.
A major strategic challenge for the United States in the coming decades will be integrating emerging powers into international institutions. To hold the postwar order together, the United States will have to become a more consistent exemplar of multilateral cooperation.
Global demographics in the twenty-first century will be defined by steep declines in fertility rates. Many countries will see their populations shrink and age. But relatively high fertility rates and immigration levels in the United States, however, may mean that it will emerge with a stronger hand.
U.S. students now compete throughout their careers with their peers in other countries. But thinking of the future as a contest among countries vying to get larger pieces of a finite economic pie is a recipe for protectionism and global strife. Instead, Americans must realize that expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all.
Increased connectivity allows for the spread of liberal, open values but also poses a number of dangers. To foster the free flow of information and challenge authoritarian regimes, democratic states will have to learn to create alliances with people and companies at the forefront of the information revolution.
A favorite view of the Internet holds that the democratization of communications will bring about the democratization of the world. In fact, the relationship between cyberspace and political liberalization is far more complex.
Religion is on the rise around the world. If the United States fails to confront the implications of this growth properly the potential for religiously motivated violence across the globe may increase dramatically over the next century.
With one billion people already going hungry and the world's population rising, global food production must urgently be increased. The countries that managed such surges in the past -- Brazil, China, India, the United States -- cannot do so again. But Africa can -- if it finally uses the seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation methods common everywhere else.
Clean-energy technology is expensive and the United States is spending far too little on developing it. The U.S. government must do more to promote cross-border innovation and protect intellectual property rights.
Governments across the Middle East and South Asia are increasingly losing power to substate actors that are inserting themselves at a mezzanine level of rule between the government and the people. Western policymakers must address the problem systematically, at both a political and a legal level, rather than continue to pursue reactive and disjointed measures on a case-by-case basis.
The United States has built a worldwide system of more than 1,000 military bases, stations, and outposts -- a system designed to enhance U.S. national security. It has actually done the opposite, provoking conflict and creating insecurity.
As China's economic might expands, Beijing not only wants a greater stake in international organizations but also to remake the rules of the game.
Russia is showing signs that it may be interested in refashioning its relationship with the West, and with the United States in particular. Moscow would like to trade its cooperation on a range of international issues for technology and investment, both of which it needs for domestic growth and stability.
Turkey's ruling party is sometimes criticized for being Islamist or ideological, but its policies remain essentially nationalist and commercially opportunistic.
Reviews & Responses
After the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer each presented a bold vision of what the driving forces of world politics would be. The world in 2010 hardly seems on a more promising track -- a reminder that simple visions, however powerful, do not hold up as reliable predictors of particular developments.
A number of prominent figures -- political scientists, public intellectuals, politicians, historians, journalists, policymakers -- recommend books that shed light on some aspect of the world ahead.