The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

54 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL “large conceptions, great achievement and some failures,” he was careful to highlight the uncertainness of the task. He wrote that the enormity of the task that lay before them “only slowly revealed itself.” He noted that “the state of the world in those years and almost all that happened during themwas wholly novel within the experience of those who had to deal with it.” But ignorance of the task they faced, and the obstacles they would be required to overcome, never deterred what Acheson called the energy and buoyant determination with which they faced this challenge. Acheson’s point was echoed by Hans Morgenthau in his book, The Purpose of American Politics : “Greatness is vouchsafed to us not because we are the heirs of great men (like Lincoln and Washington) but because we are still animated by the principles and purposes that defined their lives.” He asserted that the United States is not a status quo or revanchist power. Instead, he said, “Our purpose is not to defend or preserve the present or restore the past; it is to create the future. When we struggle, it is to defend one kind of future against another.” Howwe define American leadership depends on howwe define the future. While our accomplishments give us primacy of place, and our power demands the world’s attention, we live in a world of accelerating change where power abhors not only a vacuum, but the status quo. The American people, as well as our allies and partners, recognize that we are in the uneasy position of protecting what we have built while we imagine our next important achievement. In this environment, our greatest fear should be that of stagnation. We face a simple truth: He whomoves forward wins. Understanding the Drivers of Change We must restore vitality to our dialogue and engagement and inventiveness to our work if we are to match the pace of life. To understand the major drivers of global change, and the context in which we must address them, we need look no further than the work of our National Intelligence Council. Every four years, our colleagues at the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group produce a report on what former NIC Chairman Gregory Treverton called “the forces and choices shaping the world before us over the next two decades.”The NIC has produced six such Global Trends reports. The most recent—“Alternate Worlds” (2013) and “Paradox of Prog- ress” (2017)—are prescient and mind-stretching. At the risk of oversimplifying through summary, I will share the four major drivers of global change identified by the NIC: First, the rise and empowerment of the individual as a national and global actor. The emergence of a global middle class is the dominant social phenomenon of the 21st century. Unlike President WoodrowWilson at Versailles, who had to manage the emergence of peoples onto the global landscape and address their demand for a role in determining national destiny, today we must address the demand of individuals for a role in fashioning their own destiny. In other words, increasingly political legitimacy lies not solely in political rights, but in the opportunities and resources that governments provide their citizens. Democracy becomes a social phenomenon, and identity becomes its expression. Second, the transformation of power, or the flattening of the world. As the winner of the ColdWar, the United States is the only surviving superpower. However, our ability to project our power anywhere at any time is tempered by the recognition that we can- not commit our power everywhere all the time. This, compounded by the emergence of regional powers with global ambitions, means we must act judiciously. We must determine which of our interests require the exercise of our power, and where stability requires accommodation. Third, the aging of the world. As a social phenomenon, this is a corollary to the rise of the individual and the middle class. It is the product of increased wealth, better education and health care, and enhanced security. Within democracies, this phe- nomenon will reshape the allocation of economic resources, increase demands for stability and redefine national interests. For our authoritarian competitors, such as Russia and China, the risk of “aging out” becomes a major concern and shortens their perceived window to accomplish their global goals. And, on the other hand, there is a persistent youth bulge on the periphery of the global economy. Absent significant economic growth and job creation, the young men and women who make up this bulge will feed instability, mass migration and conflict. Finally, the growing nexus between food, energy and water. This is tied to the previous drivers of change. A growing global middle class wants to eat better, live better and have access to the energy necessary for its comfort. An aging population is increasingly a consuming, not a producing, population. The remaining youth bulge will not give up its aspirations to accommodate those who have already arrived. And competition and conflict within regions will increasingly occur around these resources. Challenges for Governance and Diplomacy These drivers of change create a challenging context for gover- nance and diplomacy. While opportunities abound, the NIC notes that our new century will be defined by a world with the follow- ing characteristics: (1)The rich are aging, and the poor are not; (2)The global economy is shifting and incapable of large growth due to shrinking workforces inmajor economies and diminishing productivity gains; (3) Technology is accelerating but will aggravate