Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

The United States Will Be Shocked by Its Future

| Apr. 16, 2019

The only thing that's clear about the changing world order is that Americans can shape their role in it—and that they're likely to mess it up.

As a species, we seem to be in a period of considerable uncertainty, where familiar features of the political landscape are disappearing, and it is not clear what will replace them. Will NATO and the European Union be around in five or 10 years, and in anything like their present form? Will the United States still be fighting shadowy opponents in distant lands? Is China destined to dominate Asia, and maybe the world? Will artificial intelligence sweep away jobs in sector after sector of the economy? How much of the planet will be underwater or uninhabitable due to climate change, and how many millions of people will be seeking refuge from war, crime, oppression, corruption, or environmental degradation? Are the dysfunctions afflicting many wealthy democracies a momentary blip or the beginning of a slide into dictatorship?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Prediction is always hard, of course, especially about the future, but there was a time when many people thought they knew exactly where we were headed. Back in the early 1990s, plenty of American pundits, professors, and politicians were confident they knew what the future held, and many of them were pretty optimistic about it....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Walt, Stephen M.“The United States Will Be Shocked by Its Future.” Foreign Policy, April 16, 2019.

The Author

Stephen Walt