Washington, DC — To renew its leadership in the 21st century, the United States must “adapt to changing global dynamics and compete more wisely; nothing is guaranteed,” Dr. Andrew Imbrie said this morning during a live online event held by the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET).
During the launch of his new book this morning, Imbrie discussed the range of options that policymakers face. He observed, “Butter and guns is a perennial debate for a great power, because national resources are limited, but national aspirations can be potentially unlimited.”
Imbrie is a senior fellow with CSET. Yale University Press published his new book, Power on the Precipice: The Six Choices America Faces in A Turbulent World, today. He joined former Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines to discuss the new volume, which covers the historical rise and fall of nations and charts a path forward for the United States in an increasingly turbulent and polarized world.
“Andrew Imbrie’s compelling, insightful, and fundamentally optimistic book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in pursuing an affirmative yet realistic foreign policy agenda for the United States,” Haines noted. “Grounded in history and the stories that have brought us to this moment, he assesses the world as it is with clarity and thoughtfulness as he finds a way to revitalize U.S. leadership with integrity and humanity.”
Drawing from his experience as a senior advisor and speechwriter to former Secretary of State John Kerry, in Power on the Precipice Imbrie offers a positive vision for the future of U.S. foreign policy that navigates the hard choices and difficult trade-offs the country faces.
Today’s event featured remarks both by Imbrie and Haines, followed by Q&A.
Asked about how U.S. power should be weighed amid a shifting and sometimes turbulent geopolitical landscape, Imbrie compared the concept of power to the weather in that it is a familiar phenomenon but impossible to assess on just one dimension.
For example, he noted that United States “might be a power globally, but maybe our position doesn’t look so good when we focus on the South China Sea.”
Imbrie recommended considering at least four aspects of power with regard to a country: Consider trends rather than snapshots; think deeply about institutions, “which are the way we convert power into influence;” focus on the intangibles of power, such as political and social cohesion, organizational cultures, and national morale; and remember that power is both situational and contextual.
“Summing up the subject, Imbrie asked: “How do we understand this nebulous and difficult concept of power? “I’ve learned a great deal from my colleagues at CSET about this.”