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The United States, Pivotal Powers, and the New Global Reality

Stanley Foundation Working Group on Major Powers
Conference Report
May 2008

The primacy in world affairs that the United States has enjoyed since the end of the Cold War is diminishing. China, India, Russia, the European Union, and Japan, among others, have been gaining strength relative to the United States. How should the United States respond? That question was addressed by a Stanley Foundation Task Force on Major Powers that began work in the fall of 2006.

The cochairs of that task force, Nina Hachigian and Mona Sutphen, have coauthored this report, which draws from their own analysis and from task force discussions. Among their conclusions:
  • Simply maintaining military superiority would keep us safe, and preparing for an “inevitable” war with these powers is too dangerous. The attractive alternative: establish cooperative efforts among these “pivotal powers” to counter the dangers facing all of them.

  • These common dangers include terrorism, loose nukes, pathogens, proliferation of nuclear weapons to hostile states, and climate change.

  • We need a plan for strategic cooperation, and the authors provide a broad outline for one.

  • While strategic cooperation should be the centerpiece of US strategy, the United States needs to “cover [its] bets” against dangerous surprises.

Video: Nina Hachigian on "The United States, Pivotal Powers, and the New Global Reality," November 2008
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