FSR Issue Briefs

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The Trump administration should not take up its work under the assumption that the United States, with only 5 percent of the world’s population and around a quarter of the world’s economy, can continue to be an indispensable presence on the world stage. America’s relative decline since 1945 seems to be a byproduct of the post-World War II system it created along with its allies and partners, in which the United States worked to bring millions out of poverty, give other nations incentives to strengthen their governance structures and institutions, and establish global norms of behavior. That effort sought to ensure no worldwide conflicts recurred. However, fostering an environment where states, groups, and individuals could be further empowered naturally eroded America’s once-monopolistic strength; the United States has brought humanity to a new era where many are powerful and many can potentially lead.

 
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It might be true that history does not repeat itself, but it can provide examples of what to do and what does not work. In the spirit of the adage that “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” History’s Lessons for Resolving Today’s Middle East Conflicts, by Mathew J. Burrows, examines past precedents for resolving highly complex conflicts, by delving into seven historic examples of peacemaking. Each conflict is different, but there are common patterns for resolving them. Based on our study of historical precedents, we list seven key requirements for success based on outcomes in these examples and have highlighted several of the precedents of special relevance to the situation today in the Middle East.

 
In the latest FutureScape issue brief from the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security's Strategic Foresight Initiative, author Peter Engelke discusses the long-term economic, environmental, and policy implications of urbanization. Entitled "Foreign Policy for an Urban World: Global Governance and the Rise of Cities," the brief examines how urbanization is hastening the global diffusion of power and how cities themselves are increasingly important nodes of power in global politics.

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The South China Sea (SCS) has been, and remains, an area rife with tension. Disputes among SCS states stem from unresolved issues relating to sovereignty, exclusive economic zones, natural resources, and acceptable uses of the military. In the past two decades, fishing boats have been detained or damaged, fishermen and sailors arrested or killed, and artificial islands constructed for military purposes. These years of strife have led to the current SCS state of play: it is a vitally important region where competition is high and trust is low.
Globalization, urbanization, and fragmentation are reshaping the world order by diffusing power throughout the global system. In order to remain relevant, American diplomacy will require a fundamental retooling that includes a more deliberate and serious engagement with novel forces and actors. Building a stronger partnership between the federal government’s diplomatic community and these nonstate actors will enhance America’s leadership and standing around the world.

Diplomacy for a Diffuse World,” the latest from the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, in partnership with the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, examines how key global trends—the diffusion of power and the rise of individual empowerment—significantly impact the way the United States government must conduct diplomacy. In the brief, experts provide actionable recommendations to help build a more comprehensive and focused diplomatic strategy to better embrace the changes brought by these trends.

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In the latest FutureScape brief from the Atlantic Council's Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, SFI’s Senior Fellow for Innovation and Global Trends Banning Garrett assesses the ubiquity of big data and the opportunities and risks it poses to our lives.

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In the latest FutureScape brief from the Atlantic Council's Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, SFI’s Senior Fellow for Innovation and Global Trends, Banning Garrett, assesses how algorithms now run much of our lives and in the future will be increasingly ubiquitous in ever more aspects of our personal and work life. Mostly without our awareness, algorithms are the guts of software that governs the operation of every digital devices, from modern airplanes and the electric grid system to our laptops, tablets and smartphones.

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This FutureScape issue brief, authored by Senior Fellows Peter Engelke and Robert A. Manning, is the first in a series related to The Transatlantic Partnership for the Global Future, a project organized in cooperation with the Government of Sweden, to bring together experts from government, business, and academia to address critical questions relating emerging technologies to global challenges and explore their effects on transatlantic relations in the near- and long-term.

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China’s new leadership takes office amid growing questions about China’s internal direction and its assertive foreign policy. Conventional wisdom portrays China in the mode of Sun Tzu, far-sighted strategists looking decades ahead. But thus far, it appears that China’s leaders have strategic goals, but no apparent strategy for how to achieve them. This Atlantic Council brief, authored by Robert A. Manning and Banning Garrett, assesses the challenges China faces–worsening pollution, corruption, and a growth model that needs sweeping reforms and examines the difficulties Beijing faces in addressing them.

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