One in a series of excerpts from THE NEXT DECADE by Stratfor CEO George Friedman.
All of which brings us to the president’s challenge in the decade ahead: to conduct a ruthless, unsentimental foreign policy in a nation that still has unreasonable fantasies of being loved, or at least of being left alone. He must play to the public’s sentimentality while moving policy beyond it.
An unsentimental foreign policy means that in the coming decade, the president must identify with a clear and cold eye the most dangerous enemies, then create coalitions to manage them. This unsentimental approach means breaking free of the entire Cold War system of alliances and institutions, including NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations. These Cold War relics are all insuf?ciently ?exible to deal with the diversity of today’s world, which rede?ned itself in 1991, making the old institutions obsolete. Some may have continuing value, but only in the context of new institutions that must emerge. These need to be regional, serving the strategic interests of the United States under the following three principles:
At the height of the British Empire, Lord Palmerston said, “It is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” This is the kind of policy the president will need to institutionalize in the coming decade. Recognizing that the United States will generate resentment or hostility, he must harbor no illusions that he can simply persuade other nations to think better of us without surrendering interests that are essential to the United States. He must try to seduce these nations as much as possible with glittering promises, but in the end he must accept that efforts at seduction will eventually fail. Where he cannot fail is in his responsibility to guide the United States in a hostile world.