The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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have continued to shoulder alongside us in Afghanistan, Iraq and

throughout the Sahel.



region contains a challenging mix of threats

and opportunities. A more domestically palatable Trans-Pacific

Partnership with a safety net for its losers would help maintain

momentum in a region with tremendous potential for American

exporters. China’s increasingly assertive presence in the region

will grow our list of potential partners, and North Korea will

require special attention. As with Russian President Vladimir

Putin, it is likely that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Presi-

dent Kim Jong-un will test you early; the best way to avoid getting

to the worst-case scenario is being visibly prepared for it. Asia also

has tremendous potential for the emergence of a moderate ver-

sion of Islam that we should continue to engage.


this hemisphere

, you

will have some digging out to

do after some toxic campaign

comments. After shoring up our

popular image and reassuring

trading partners, there will be a

temptation to leave the region

on autopilot as you turn your

attention to the more dramatic

parts of the planet. This would

be a mistake, however, given

the tremendous untapped

economic potential so close to

home—starting with a reform-

minded Mexico and a Canada

with whomwe already have the largest trading relationship of any

two nations in the world. A rational immigration policy also starts

with good relations with the rest of the hemisphere.

South Asia

remains one of the few parts of the world where

a nuclear conflagration could ignite, and is also one of the most

likely regions to spread nuclear technology and know-how. But

India, in particular, has immense trading potential. Indeed, as

foreign policy commentators Kim R. Holmes of the Heritage

Foundation and Will Inboden of the University of Texas, Austin,

put it: “Our burgeoning strategic partnership with India has the

potential to fundamentally transform the international order of

the Indo-Pacific region.”


meanwhile has come alive, and we deserve some small

credit for its “renaissance” (if not too premature a label), given

our partnerships with its many struggling states. But progress is

fragile and incomplete and, like Latin America, it is an easy place

to neglect. There are more opportunities than risks in Africa, espe-

cially for commerce, and there are 50 states in the African Union

whose collective diplomatic clout is not insignificant. But many

parts of the continent suffer from terrorism and violent extrem-

ism, as well as civil wars and ethnic conflicts that cry out for the

stronger institutions that America has become better at nurturing.

Finally, the

Middle East

is either in collapse or skittish, and

badly in need of attention and reassurance. Whether fair or not,

old allies feel abandoned, and the region believes our attention

has gone elsewhere (the danger with pivoting somewhere is that it

implies pivoting away from somewhere else). This is not the time

for a major push on the Middle East peace process, but it is a time

for putting American influence behind measures to ensure the

two-state option remains viable.

With Iran, we have a good-enough agreement in the Iran

nuclear deal (the Joint Compre-

hensive Plan of Action), but it

requires assertive management

of Tehran’s regional meddling.

The biggest challenge in the

Middle East, however, is getting

states to an orderly place indi-

vidually, and building a stable

regional order among those

states. Syria, Yemen, Libya and

Iraq are the tests of our ability

to successfully shepherd failed

states to stability; the key in

each of them is reaching an

agreement on an inclusive

national political system, however imperfect and compromised—a

daunting task we have avoided fully getting behind.

To manage all of this, we will need to strengthen relationships

broadly, moving away from the transactional arrangements we

have fallen into since 9/11 and back to the more fundamental alli-

ances and regional arrangements of a previous era. We also need

to do more to develop with other global leaders a clear vision and

action agenda for global order, because—as former U.S. ambas-

sador and strategic thinker Carlos Pascual puts it—“This is simply

too big for one country.”

You should consider ways to formalize all this in a new global

architecture, such as the “Group of 16” idea the Brookings Institu-

tion has proposed. With the United Nations’ architecture impos-

sible to quickly enhance, the G-8 out of date and the G-20 never

really taking off, a G-8 plus Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Mex-

ico, Indonesia, Turkey and Nigeria might be the way to broaden

participation and commitment on a full range of global issues.

Americans have developed

a love-hate relationship with

nation-building, with the result

that we have never developed

the tools to address the

“fragile state” phenomenon