ON-Lion Letter

"As the United States continues its effort to manage global order in the 21st century, it will undoubtedly rely on the main tool that it is has employed for the past 70 years:  its system of alliance relationships," notes Eric Edelman in his chapter of the John Hay Initiative's (JHI's) new book, Choosing to Lead:  American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World.

"But there will be some differences to accommodate the vast changes that have accompanied the transition to an information age," Edelman continues in the chapter, "America's Alliances for the 21st Century."  "New alliance relationships are likely to be more informal and flexible than the legally binding, treaty-based alliance vehicles of the past. 

"The Europe-first approach will shift over time toward a balance of effort more focused on Southwest and East Asia," he writes.  "The heavy emphasis on forward defense and presence is likely to give way to a greater emphasis on access to bases, persistent and habitual training relationships, co-production and purchase of selected advanced weapons platforms, and U.S. punitive strikes.  U.S. Special Forces will be a ubiquitous presence among our allies (both state and non-state).  Flexible and informal coalitions like the Proliferation Security Initiative are likely to be a tool of choice in the volatile and uncertain international environment that is likely to face the next President."

Edelman is the Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at SAIS and a distinguished fellow of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).

"The diplomacy of alliance management, a skill set that has atrophied since the Cold War, must be reinvigorated," he concludes.  "Alliance management for the next President and senior U.S. officials will not only be something important to know about but also something to practice constantly, no matter how wearing it might be on the participants."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports JHI's Choosing to Lead project.  Bradley also supports CSBA.

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