Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of last Friday’s presidential debate was that neither candidate proposed a bold, new way of thinking about foreign policy that cuts through the crisis-driven, incremental approach that has characterized the United States’ national security posture since the end of the Cold War.
The only hint of a major break from the past was on the issue of economic policy, where Obama made clear that the long national nightmare of Bush-McCain-Clinton-Bush-Reagan manic neo-liberalism is over. I suspect he will continue to stress this theme at next week’s debate in Nashville.
While the final dash to an election may not be the most opportune moment for unconventional ideas to come to the fore, the widespread feeling that the country is on the wrong track and the imminent departure of the most lame-duck president in recent memory suggest that the first one hundred days of the next administration may present unusually fertile ground for big ideas.
My colleagues at the New America Foundation have developed several proposals that would allow the next president to leverage our strengths to shape an emerging world order in which American power will be limited and the interests of other states will have to be taken into greater account. In the foreign policy realm, these ideas include engaging Cuba, rapprochement with Iran, and developing a new grand strategy predicated upon a sustainable, energy-efficient domestic economy.
On Friday, the New America Foundation will host a forum co-sponsored with Wired Magazine that will propose innovative solutions to some of the most urgent global challenges that the United States will face during the next administration and beyond. The panel will include Parag Khanna, Director of the New America Foundation’s Global Governance Initiative, Johns Hopkins University Professor Robert Dalrymple, Terreform 1 Partner Mitchell Joachim, and Senior Social Science Adviser Montgomery McFate. Nick Thompson, Senior Editor at Wired Magazine and a New America Foundation Fellow, will moderate what promises to be a dynamic and thought-provoking discussion.