The world is currently characterized by an unusually large number of unstable and volatile situations. The current high levels of instability are rooted in four broad trends:
- The first is the systematic breakdown of state authority in the Arab Middle East.
- The second broad trend we face is the reemergence of great power competition
- A third current source of global volatility is the global reaction to profound economic and political transitions taking place in China.
- The last trend is the geopolitical impact of sustained low oil prices since mid-2014.
The idea that America is in decline does not stand up to a rigorous analysis of our national balance sheet of strategic assets and liabilities. The truth is that no nation can match our comprehensive set of enduring strengths—a resilient, strong, and diverse economy; bountiful resources, both human and material; a unique global network of alliances; unmatched military strength; a powerful culture of entrepreneurship and innovation; best-in-class universities and research institutions; a dynamic demographic future (unique among the great powers); a promising energy future; a well-established legal system; and a long and powerful record of international leadership.
The next president must work to address four primary challenges in order to bolster our security and national well-being:
- The principal national security challenge for any nation is to maintain its economic growth and vitality.
- The overall terrorist threat has evolved and metastasized, and we have entered a new and dangerous phase.
- The nation’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks has become one of the most pressing challenges confronting our government, our economy, and the American public.
- Finally, the next president should build on President Obama’s efforts to enhance stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.