Who Will Run the World?

“Two decades ago, the U.S.-sponsored liberal international order seemed to be going from strength to strength. Now, both order and sponsor are in crisis, and the future is up for grabs,” writes Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose in his introduction to the January/February lead package, which considers the range of possibilities for the world order in the coming years. “We’ve focused on how the troubled hegemon [the United States] and the confident challenger [China] are trying to write the story’s next chapter.”

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Highlights from the cover package include:

“The Fourth Founding”

Gideon Rose

“Repairing the damage will require more than being not Trump. It will require being reverse Trump: telling the truth, thinking for others as well as oneself, playing for the long term. Trumpism is about winning, which is something you do to others. The order requires leading, which is something you do with others. If the next administration appreciates that distinction, it will get the opportunity to restart it yet again.”

“How a World Order Ends”

Richard Haass

“The post–World War II, post–Cold War order cannot be restored, but the world is not yet on the edge of a systemic crisis. Now is the time to make sure one never materializes, be it from a breakdown in U.S.-Chinese relations, a clash with Russia, a conflagration in the Middle East, or the cumulative effects of climate change. The good news is that it is far from inevitable that the world will eventually arrive at a catastrophe; the bad news is that it is far from certain that it will not.”

“The Stealth Superpower”

Oriana Skylar Mastro

“Although China does not want to usurp the United States’ position as the leader of a global order, its actual aim is nearly as consequential. In the Indo-Pacific region, China wants complete dominance . . . . And globally, even though it is happy to leave the United States in the driver’s seat, it wants to be powerful enough to counter Washington when needed.”

“The Age of Uneasy Peace”

Yan Xuetong

“The coming bipolarity will be an era of uneasy peace between the two superpowers. Both sides will build up their militaries but remain careful to manage tensions before they boil over into outright conflict. And rather than vie for global supremacy through opposing alliances, Beijing and Washington will largely carry out their competition in the economic and techno­logical realms.”

Additional highlights from the issue include:

Essays

“A Foreign Policy for All”

Elizabeth Warren

“The United States can no longer maintain the comfortable assumption that its domestic and foreign policies are separate. Every decision the gov­ernment makes should be grounded in the recognition that actions that undermine working families in this country ultimately erode American strength in the world. In other words, we need a foreign policy that works for all Americans. The urgency of the moment cannot be overstated.”

“The Eroding Balance of Terror”

Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.

“Like several of its recent predecessors, the Trump administration has spent little time explaining exactly how the United States intends to deter existing and future rivals. The assumption is that it needs no explaining: modern weapons are so destructive that no sane leader would risk igniting a general war—and so the requirements for deterrence are relatively modest. But such confidence is profoundly misplaced . . . . The greatest strategic challenge of the current era is neither the return of great-power rivalries nor the spread of advanced weaponry. It is the decline of deterrence.”

“How Congress Can Take Back Foreign Policy”

Brian McKeon and Caroline Tess

"The U.S. Constitution gives the president considerable power over foreign policy. In recent years, successive presidents have expanded that authority. Trump has used those powers to begin remaking the United States’ global image and role. Yet the framers of the Constitution wisely vested Congress with powers of its own to influence and check the executive. Americans have voted. Now Congress must act.”

“America’s Middle East Purgatory”

Mara Karlin and Tamara Cofman Wittes

“Heavy U.S. involvement in the Middle East over the past two decades has been painful and ugly for the United States and for the region. But it is the devil we know, and so U.S. policymakers have grown accustomed to the costs associated with it. Pulling back, how­ever, is the devil we don’t know, and so everyone instinctively resists this position. It, too, will be painful and ugly for the Middle East, but compared with staying the course, it will be less so for the United States.”

“The Crisis of Peacekeeping”

Séverine Autesserre

“The international community’s preferred strategy for dealing with conflict simply isn’t working: peacekeeping as currently practiced is a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. The good news is that there is a way to rethink the current strategy so that it has a better shot at establish­ing lasting peace: rely more on the very people it is ostensibly trying to protect.”

“The Free-Trade Paradox”

Alan S. Blinder

“Politicians who vote for trade agreements can’t avoid taking the blame for any losses that result. The left will always believe that trade favors big business. For centuries, demagogues have blamed foreigners for domestic woes; they aren’t going to stop anytime soon. And most fundamental, if consumers care more about good jobs than cheap goods, the standard arguments for trade won’t persuade them.”

“Trump Versus the Government”

Elliott Abrams

“In his first two years as president, Trump has had one great piece of luck: there has been no great international crisis . . . . If none arises in the next two years, he will be able to show American voters in 2020 that despite all the criticism, his foreign policy did not lead to tangible defeats or to war. Furthermore, he will be able to argue that the gains of a more aggressively nationalist stance outweigh its costs.”

“America’s Long Goodbye”

Eliot A. Cohen

 “The president has outlined a deeply mis­guided foreign policy vision that is distrustful of U.S. allies, scornful of international institutions, and indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the liberal international order that the United States has sustained for nearly eight decades. The real tragedy, however, is not that the president has brought this flawed vision to the fore; it is that his is merely one mangled interpretation of what is rapidly emerging as a new consensus on the left and the right: that the United States should accept a more modest role in world affairs.”

“Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War”

Robert Chesney and Danielle Citron

“Democratic societies will have to learn resilience. On the one hand, this will mean accepting that audio and video content cannot be taken at face value; on the other, it will mean fighting the descent into a post-truth world . . . . In short, democracies will have to accept an uncomfortable truth: in order to survive the threat of deepfakes, they are going to have to learn how to live with lies.”  

“The Unhackable Election”

Michael Chertoff and Anders Fogh Rasmussen

"With the future of democracy in the United States and Europe at stake, it’s time to start developing a more forward-thinking strategy for dealing with foreign interference . . . . Individual countries, let alone parties and organizations, can do only so much to protect themselves. What is required is a collective, bipartisan, transatlantic response to foreign meddling. This is why, in June 2018, we brought together leaders from politics, media, academia, and business from a cross section of parties and backgrounds on both sides of the Atlantic to create the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity.”

Reviews

“More, Less, or Different?”

Jake Sullivan

“Big ques­tions are up for debate in ways they have not been for many years. What is the purpose of U.S. foreign policy? Are there fundamental changes in the world that demand a corresponding change in approach? Into this earnest and reflective conversation enter Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, each with a new book, each making his long-standing argument about the failures of U.S. foreign policy with renewed ferocity.”

“Snake-Oil Economics”

N. Gregory Mankiw

“Rah-rah partisans do not build their analysis on the foundation of professional consensus or serious studies from peer-reviewed journals . . . . Rah-rah partisans do not aim to persuade the undecided. They aim to rally the faithful. Unfortunately, this last voice is the one the economists Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer chose in writing their new book, Trumponomics.”

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