January 11, 2017
Superpartner: A US Strategy for a Complex World
By Alex Ward
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.
In today’s world, the United States must seek to be central to global efforts, but not necessarily to lead them. Here is the difference: by maintaining its status as a central player, the United States always has an important part to play in solving global problems. By leading, the United States dictates the actions of other players in a given scenario. America must now share the spotlight with other players—state and non-state alike—to achieve its foreign policy objectives and maintain harmony with others. Choosing this course, as opposed to the current “indispensable nation” model, would allow the United States to be more effective and efficient in its dealings around the world while also building up the capacity of other actors to take care of problems as they arise. The United States, in essence, would become the world’s catalyst for action: always working, always available, always present.
Being a “superpartner,” instead of a “superpower,” would allow the United States to achieve three strategic objectives:
1) Maintain American centrality in global affairs;
2) Promote constellation frameworks among state and nonstate actors; and
3) Mitigate global risk
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