On Wednesday, April 22nd, the Atlantic Council brought together a range of experts for the release of its new publication, Dynamic Stability: US Strategy for a World in Transition, the first paper of the series of Atlantic Council Strategy Papers. This inaugural Atlantic Council Strategy Paper explores the key global trends shaping the new “Westphalian-Plus world” and outlines a strategy for the United States to pursue to most effectively navigate this new landscape. It suggests that, in addition to continuing to pursue stability as a core foreign and national security policy goal, the United States should seek to harness the dynamic trends now unfolding to better protect and advance U.S. national interests.
This event comprised a panel discussion featuring the authors of the publication, Atlantic Council Vice President and Scowcroft Center Director Barry Pavel and Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Engelke, as well as senior experts who provided critique on commentary on the publication. Experts included Distinguished Scholar in Residence at American University Dr. Nora Bensahel, Senior Fellow at RAND the honorable James Dobbins, and Director and Fellow of the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution Dr. Thomas Wright.
In his opening address, Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center Dr. Alexander Mirtchev commended the Atlantic Council for addressing real issues in a bold and smart manner, adding that the Council fills a vacuum in Washington DC by providing different angles while looking for fresh analysis and solutions. Moderator of the event, Atlantic Council President and CEO Mr. Frederick Kempe opened up the discussion by highlighting how this publication builds on the National Security Strategy report by expanding the prescription element to include global trends, disruptive technology, current and future geopolitical situations, and dynamic strategy. Highlighting the United States’ pursuit of stability after World War II, Pavel stated the role of stability in international order remains important, but is no longer sufficient, stressing that the US must harness dynamic change within technology, energy, and urbanization revolutions, requiring a more activist US approach. Engelke followed by outlining how the US constructed the post WWII world to attain certain ends including values, prosperity, and security. Engelke argued that similar ends are still needed, but the means used to achieve these ends must be for the current world.
Bensahel commenced the rich critique and commentary session by stating that while the threats the US faces have increased in both number and complexity, none of them are fundamentally existential threats with the exception of nuclear proliferation. She argued that the greatest value of the publication is its acknowledgement of this threat complexity. Dobbins followed by asserting his agreement with every proposal of the paper, but believed the threats facing the US are exaggerated and are no greater than the threats of the past 150 years. Wright continued the discussion by emphasizing the trend of experts attempting to predict US decline or advancement and the corresponding difficulties; stating his appreciation that this publication didn’t project a “winner” in the international community. Wright concluded the discussion by declaring the publication was the best case he has read that advocates dynamism articulation.
The Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series is designed to enrich the public debate and build consensus on the great strategic challenges of our time, as well as to help shape strategic thinking in US and allied governments, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the global media.