EUISS - How the US does foresight: the United States’ difficulty in accepting multipolarity

The Global Trends series became in the mid-1990s the chief US government vehicle for thinking 15-to-20 years into the future. Besides the Quarterly Defense Review, the National Security Strategy (NSS) deals with the future and is a prime vehicle for administrations to project a vision for the country. The White House’s National Security Council, which drafts the NSS, typically relies on the Global Trends works and other long-range analysis conducted by the Intelligence Community to explain what measures the nation must undertake to prepare for the future. These foresights show that much of mainstream foreign policy thinking still sees the US as the only power with the authority (and right) to set the rules for the whole international system. Multipolarity remains an unfathomable concept for much of the US foreign policy elite, and US primacy is seen as the only way to protect US national interests. Despite this solid bedrock, the US government has never been able to move up the ladder and fully incorporate foresight into its decision-making process. Less than two months after taking office, the Biden administration has issued an ‘interim’ National Security Strategic Guidance in preparation for a future full-scale National Security Strategy, which will guide its policy choices in addition to informing the general public about Biden’s vision for the United States. 

Read more about US foresight thinking and what this means for the multi-polar world order on the EUISS Website

Photo: Flickr, Richard Gilin, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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