We have entered a new era in world history, a post-post-Cold War era that holds both great promise and great peril for the United States, its allies, and everyone else. We now can call this a “Westphalian-Plus” world, in which nation-states will have to engage on two distinct levels: dealing with other nation-states as before, and dealing with a vast array of important nonstate actors. This era calls for a new approach to national strategy called “dynamic stability.”

The authors of this paper—Atlantic Council Vice President and Scowcroft Center Director Barry Pavel and Senior Fellow Peter Engelke, with the help of Assistant Director Alex Ward—kick off the Atlantic Council Strategy Paper series by telling the United States to seek stability while leveraging dynamic trends at the same time. The central task facing America is “to harness change in order to save the system,” meaning the preservation of the rules-based international order that has benefited billions around the world, including Americans themselves, since 1945. Within its pages, the paper outlines the components of strategy in a swiftly-changing world.