Albert Einstein once observed that the advent of nuclear weapons had changed everything except our modes of thinking. If even so dramatic a development as the nuclear revolution has taken a long time to be fully understood, how much longer has it usually taken to understand the implications of the more subtle, intangible historical changes taking place around us.
The international order at the end of this century is certain to be far different from the pattern of world politics when the century began. The distribution of power and the dynamics of international relations have undergone a continuous transformation, driven by many factors—technology, economic and social changes, and the often-underestimated force of ideas. This process goes on; history never stops. As we head toward the 21st century, Einstein’s observation takes on new relevance: our ways of thinking must adapt to new realities; it is imperative that we grasp the new trends and understand their implications.
The United States of America is not just an onlooker, however. We are participants and we are engaged. America is again in a position to have a major influence over the direction of events—and the traditional goals and values of the American people have not changed. We have a duty to help shape the trends, as they evolve, in accordance with our ideals and interests, to help construct a new pattern of international stability that will ensure peace, prosperity and freedom for coming generations.
What are the forces of change? What new "modes of thinking" are required? And what are the possible elements of a new and more secure international system?
The U.S.-Soviet relationship, for better or worse, remains a crucial determinant of the prospects for world peace, even though the political predominance of the two superpowers is less than it was a few decades ago. How to manage this relationship as conditions change remains a major conceptual challenge for the United States.
So long as the Soviet system is