Anticipatory Diplomacy: A Modern Diplomacy for a Dangerous and Uncertain World

May 31, 2022

by W. Robert Pearson *

Anticipatory Diplomacy. By Amb. W.Robert Pearson. Duke Center for International and Global Studies

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served a Republican president and who is one of the most admired of our diplomatic leaders by Foreign Service Officers, famously compared diplomacy to tending a garden.  He said “I appreciate how important it is to see people on their own turf, where they feel at home and where you meet the people with whom they work. I call this kind of work gardening, and it is one of the most underrated aspects of diplomacy. The way to keep weeds from overwhelming you is to deal with them constantly and in their early stages.”  Essentially Secretary Shultz was advocating for what we might now call anticipatory diplomacy.

Shultz emphasized the critical importance of looking ahead but his commitment to forward thinking did not result in structural change at the Department of State nor in an evolution of the way the United States trains its diplomats and evaluates their performance as mature professionals.  Now we need a new model, one that is better suited to the twenty-first century, one that recognizes the changing nature of the challenges we will inevitably face in the future – not just the problems we face now.

For Schultz, our national strength derived in part (1) by maintaining ties not only with the great and powerful but with all the global community’s members and which engenders both respect and encourages cooperation; (2) by taking full advantage of the skills of the professional corps of American diplomats at work 24x7x365; and (3) by engaging with others at the “early stages” of issues to keep us on the front lines of managing global trends.  This last point is perhaps the task we do least well.  It is the most difficult assignment to incorporate into diplomatic process today in large part because our diplomatic community is consumed with managing the moment, the immediate. As a result we miss the chance to engage with the larger issues looming just over the horizon.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF ANTICIPATORY DIPLOMACY?

The world gets worse when the U.S. is not effectively engaged early. Looking forward for effective American engagement and leadership requires that we expand beyond the traditional primary focus on the here and now to an enlarged focus that takes on a greater number and scope of complicated multilateral issues. In November 2021, the U.S. and Europe worked well together to fashion the diplomacy to deal with the Belarus Russia-inspired attempt to force refugees into EU territory. This was an excellent example of the U.S.vigorously coordinating multilaterally with and backing the strong EU stand as well.  No global issue of significance today or for the foreseeable future will be solely national - allocating more of the diplomatic circle graph to the multilateral slice is both in our interest and more likely than ever to be the methodology of the future.

The same lack of awareness, appreciation and attention applies to the present view in American diplomacy about the relationship between science and diplomacy.  The State Department even abandonedthe professional track of Science Officer in 1997 at a time when key global science and technology issues were on the rise. The Duke University Rethinking Diplomacy team addressed this issue in the Fall of 2020.  Today our diplomats are not trained in the scientific aspects of dealing with issues of global health, climate change, energy renewal, cyber threats, food and water resources, regional or global supply chains and outer space among others. Yet the effective diplomatic use of academic and practical knowledge and expertise in the hard and soft sciences may determine the planet's future. The lack of a genuine partnership between the worlds of science and diplomacy to integrate multidisciplinary subject-matter expertise within both the Foreign Service and the senior foreign policy and national security process would seem to be an obvious shortfall in our process.

Broadening our scope of issues to be treated and making it possible for science and diplomacy to work closely on the international stage requires that we look at the process needed to achieve lasting and positive results.  The international scene today and for as far forward as we can see is bringing us issues that are more complicated and consequential than we have ever encountered before. We must examine how we can improve the methodologies of diplomacy to manage these challenges.  We do not lack for goals; we lack for understanding how to reach them.  Contrary to the popular “tooth and claw” theory of human evolution, human history has demonstrated time and again the power of human cooperation in circumstances which provide benefits for all participants. 

In order to succeed with a collaborative model, five elements are required: (1) involvement of all the essential stakeholders (those that could make or break an agreement), (2) consensus definition of the problem, (3) sufficient common interests to generate a productive dialogue, (4) a shared commitment by the stakeholders to finding a solution, and (5) successful post-agreement implementation that stands the test of time. This takes time, but it also engages the participants from the beginning, and it is designed to find common points in a Venn diagram thinking process to stimulate discussion on points of shared perspective. 

WHY SHOULD WE EXTEND OUR HORIZONS FORWARD TO DEAL WITH ISSUES?

The final step in Anticipatory Diplomacy is the commitment to look further ahead than we do now to anticipate issues that will be crises if we don’t act.  Why is this approach now necessary?

For Americans, the 21st Century has been difficult.  Young Americans who came of age in the 2000’s have never known a time of peace and tranquility.  9/11 began this century with the first attack on American soil by a foreign adversary since 1941.  What followed were four Middle East wars undertaken to provide military solutions to terrorism, and none of them has been successful in reconstituting stable societies.  The cost, however, was high - more than $8 trillion dollars according to one estimate, equal to 40 percent of the figure for the U.S. GNP of $19707.31 billion in the third quarter of 2021.  Then came the Great Recession in 2008, brought on partially by the erroneous idea that the American and global economies were self-correcting.

From the subsequent widespread unemployment arose the long-simmering resentment of the middle class. The purchasing power and confidence of American workers in a better life fell further and further behind for nearly five decades after 1970. That sentiment also grew in an environment which witnessed the slow but general loss of trust in American governance that began during the Vietnam War.  For many Americans, if what they had been told was not working, then what they had not been told, proliferated via conspiracy theories, seemed like the road back to making America great again.

Seeing America pulling back from the world and divided, China announced its plans to replace the United States as the most powerful nation on earth.  Seizing the moment and following its own historic dream, Russia sharpened its ambitions to claw back to its sphere the countries of eastern Europe given up by the Soviet Union.  The Great Game now has returned and may be with us indefinitely.

Around us our home on earth and in space has seen increased concerns.  In the environment, long ignored climatic change is producing more destructive floods, storms and fires even as the Earth continues to warm and sea levels continue to rise.  Recently, a risk to the flow of the Gulf stream has highlighted a possible significant change to the weather in the Atlantic.  A pandemic unlike any other in the last one hundred years has already killed millions, the actual number estimated to be far above the current numbers reported. In earth orbit, a recent Russian anti-satellite launch using new technology has shocked the world. The event is a call to action on two fronts: ensuring the safe use of near-Earth orbit and dealing with the dangerous escalation of anti-satellite technology.

Right in front of us are additional major crises.  For the first time since 1939, the a European country has invaded its neighbor.  China’s emphasis on cutting edge technologies seems to have America on the defensive. Beijing’s competition with U.S. technology has surprised many and produced serious warnings that China may overtake or surpass America’s lead within the decade.  Technology has been highlighted by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Bill Burns, as the “main arena for competition and rivalry with China.”   An estimated 272 million people now are migrants and are seeking better lives anywhere they can reach.  Human rights yield to genocide and dictatorship in China and Myanmar.  Supply chains are still hobbled. Food shortages and famines loom.  Democracy is shrinking, and proto-democracies are tempted to embrace authoritarianism.

WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATIONS FOR ANTICIPATORY DIPLOMACY?

To manage the issues of tomorrow and beyond, we do not begin from zero.  There are key pillars of international order in place already.  These serve directly as models for negotiation but also as reference resources for elements to improve safety and sustainability as questions areas in new forms.  All these models of success have pushed back the risk of confrontation and increased the chances for stability and peace.  Many have had lasting impact even without being well-known.  None is perfect; all treaties have to keep up with the times in order to survive, and all treaties leave some gaps to be solved later.  Yet they prove the theorem of cooperation and benefit where will and circumstances so permit.

1.  The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 removes an entire continent from the zone of conflict. This achievement was also the first major arms control treaty and inspired the work done on the Outer Space Treaty and other arms control treaties and their supporting confidence building measures and inspection requirements.  The 50 members of the treaty represent 2/3ds of the world’s population.

2.  Nuclear and non-nuclear weapons limitation treaties over decades of work have reduced the number of nuclear weapons and provide a framework for further limitations. The list of such treaties covers a broad range of geography, weapon types, and participating states.  Without them, the world would be a much more dangerous place.

3.  The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibits claims of sovereignty on celestial bodies, the placing into Earth orbit of weapons of mass destruction or the stationing of such weapons anywhere in space or on celestial bodies, and prohibits military installations and maneuvers on celestial bodies. China, Russia and the U.S. are all signatories.  Yet it leaves open issues that are now coming to the fore with the intensified use of Space by commercial and State actors.

4. The Law of the Sea Treaty of 1982 establishes a framework regulating all maritime and marine activities, including of resources in areas proximate to sovereign territory.   While the U.S. is not a signatory of the treaty, Washington regularly invokes the treaty provisions in support of the treaty’s standards and achievements. Supplementary conventions deal with fish stocks and pollution, and the U.S. is a member of or observer to many of the fish resource management arrangements.  As of June 2016, 167 countries and the European Union are parties to the treaty.

5.  The Arctic Council established in 1996 creates a framework that would allow the United States and the other seven Arctic states to collaborate and coordinate on environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic.  Arctic Council decisions and statements require consensus of the eight Arctic States.

6.  The UN is the depository of more than 560 multilateral treaties. The United States also enters into a number of international agreements every year to advance American interests.

This is only a sampling of agreements that reflect a vast web of understandings that control, guide or encourage international cooperation.  We have key resources at our disposal.  The three legacies left to us by Secretary Shultz - the importance of our international influence and reputation, the need to start engaging with issues in the early stages, and the requirement to fully involve professional career diplomats with expert skills and knowhow - are all reflected in this rich fabric of international interactions.

What is most striking about this list of successes and the cooperation we speak of in modern terms is that all these examples include the two key components of good science and good diplomacy.

WHAT IS THE METHODOLOGY FOR A MODERN APPROACH TO DIPLOMACY?

The methodology of Duke’s Rethinking Diplomacy Program builds on the experience that produced these treaties and agreements.  When the Duke University Center for International & Global Studies launched the Rethinking Diplomacy Program (RDP) in January 2020, we had three objectives in mind: (1) to redefine the role of diplomacy to take on more complicated multilateral issues that require specialized knowledge, (2) to create a genuine diplomacy-science partnership to tackle global challenges, and (3) to employ a model of collaborative stakeholder diplomacy multilaterally and at multiple levels to reach durable responses to crises. In short, more diplomacy in more complicated situations, more science in that diplomacy (and diplomacy in that science) and a model that welcomes the diversity of views but remains dedicated to a consensus solution.  Such an approach - a new and more modern approach - means a better chance for agreements to be reached and last.

Some new approaches and additional diplomatic planning assets could enhance the possibility that American diplomacy can make this model a reality.  The American Academy of Diplomacy has just issued its new study on “Bringing America’s Multilateral Diplomacy into the 21st Century”, an effort to place multilateral practice and training at the center of policy creation, diplomatic practice and the training for American diplomats.  The study could not come at a better moment.  By calling for strategic decisions on longterm multilateral interest and the allocation of personnel, budgetary, and organizational resources to strengthen that process, the Academy has opened a door to America’s diplomatic future that will be increasingly important.  The report echoes many of the points made in Duke’s Rethinking Diplomacy project, though the work of the Academy was undertaken independent of Duke’s own work.  Among other recommendations, the report calls for a widened scope of U.S. government agencies and organizations to be involved in the multilateral interagency work headed by State to ensure better planning and better execution multilaterally. 

The State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, established under then Secretary of State Colin Powell, in 2020 published a U.S. strategy to address issues leading to conflict among states, to stabilize conflict impacted areas, and to deal with fragile states.  This plan again foresees the approach of involving all affected elements - bilateral, multilateral, public-private and civil society partnerships along with governments to build global resilience.  The trans-border affect of conflict among emerging and developing states feeds international tensions with a constant stream of crises.  This wider effort provides a clear focus on helping the weakest states persevere to reach success despite often daunting odds.  This work is another key part of any government-wide project to anticipate crises over the horizon and aid them to reach resolution or at the least stave off the worst outcomes.

The State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, headed by Salman Ahmed, a deeply experienced foreign policy leader and expert, has established a policy ideas channel to inspire new views from within and outside the State Department to challenge “groupthink”.  Ahmed also focuses, as have others, on the need to do a better job of integrating bilateral, regional and multilateral diplomacy to treat international issues.  China has already served as a good example, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for a more comprehensive undertaking with all stakeholders to treat the China issues that challenge the United States. There are plenty of other issues that would benefit from the same approach. 

In Washington, new ideas are often confronted by old thinking, passive resistance and a wait-it-out state of mind. In this case, the widespread policy and academic efforts combined with the gravity of the issues underway belie any sense of complacency.  We continue to see all around us the growing threats and warning signs that call for action.  Moreover, key past warnings were clear when given and now have come true - on climate change, on the need to prepare for future pandemics, and on technologies that will replace today’s technology sooner than we imagined.  A process that encourages and guides the U.S. and the global community to see sooner, learn more quickly, and talk about consensus solutions before problems become crises, highlights risks more visibly, protects interests sooner and if done well should develop solution opportunities before the problem looks overwhelming. 

The core axiom of good diplomacy is that cooperation can provide benefits to all participants and can establish a framework of sufficient reliability and efficiency to aid economic growth, social protection, and national security.  Countries that build that kind of record of trust and reliability in international relations have influence that does not depend on their ability to compel outcomes by pressure and force.   Such a model improves the power of multilateral diplomacy for resolve multilateral problems.

If issues affecting global choices more and more are transnational and multilateral, then we need to find ways for bilateral diplomacy contribute more to multilateral outcomes.    If we were to have to reorganize the State Department and the Foreign Service from scratch today, would we pick today’s structure?  U.S. diplomacy is well organized for a world of separate sovereign states.  This arrangement provides indispensable resources for information.  Yet no nation today can act independently to resolve all the issues it faces.  Let us recall the image of the Prime Minister of Tuvalu standing in the Pacific Ocean to call for concrete action on climate change. Overemphasis on the  bilateral model of American diplomacy does not provide the best process for dealing with modern large scale over-the-horizon issues.

One of America’s abiding strengths even before its ascent to global giant after WWII, has been its soft power.  The revolutionary idea that democracy was superior to monarchy transformed Europe and the Americas and stands as the goal if not the reality in many places still around the world.  In the decades since the Soviet Union collapsed and especially during the times of the Middle East wars, soft power - the ability to guide outcomes with culture, the sciences and by the power of our example – has receded. 

Now soft power has a new role to play, not merely as a cultural tool, but as a science and technology avenue of influence.  There is no major global problem today that does not have a critical science or technology component in the solution.  The success of modern America has been the success of its science - in energy, in health, in communications, in the internet explosion, and in space exploration.  If we would stop and realize it, we continue to transform the world at many levels, not with the direct application of power, but with the manifestation of indirect power.

For diplomacy and science to work together effectively, we have to reach further out to examine a series of consequential issues that will be crises if we do not tackle them now.  There is no shortage of such issues to shape and help prepare for durable solutions. These are ones we can foresee and that we know will become more complicated and more dangerous absent a strategy.   Space is now a forever issue for the U.S. and for the world.  Duke’s Rethinking Diplomacy Program has recently called for a Summit on Space in 2022 to galvanize attention to Space issues.  Global migration is increasing and will continue to do so. American population growth is slowing; bringing new talent and labor will boost economic growth and sharpen our technological edge.  The current health crisis has demonstrated that as yet there still is no effective machinery or policy in place to deal with the next pandemic, or even with next variants if they are more contagious or more deadly.  The generation long debate that has begun on the transition from fossil fuels to new forms of energy is in early stages but for the moment the roadmap to energy renewal and substitution is being drawn mainly by private enterprise.  For climate change, the issue is no longer what might happen, but what is happening and what will be the consequences of what is happening.  We need also to focus on the impacts of those changes.   Development strategies after the pandemic and climate change consequences need attention in order to make it possible for the Global South to further close the gap with the North, achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) milestones, and more directly focus attention on the rapid growth of Africa.  The geographies of the planet not under sovereign control - the Arctic Ocean, the high seas, and to some extent the Antarctic, face increased competition for access and resources.

HOW DO WE MANAGE THE TASK OF MODERN DIPLOMACY TO DEAL WITH FUTURE ISSUES?

How do we manage this task of modern diplomacy to anticipate and deal better with the challenges of the future?   We suggest five achievable tasks.

  1. Expand and coordinate more formally the research and policy dimension within the U.S. government five to ten years ahead. There needs to be a whole of government mandate to look five to ten years ahead to outline the challenges coming and present regular reports.  This work should not be confined to those designated as national security agencies.   Every department of the U.S. government should be involved.  The Biden Administration should issue an executive order to this effect. The current mosaic of policy consideration and recommendation overemphasizes some issues, ignores others and makes all subject to special pleading for pet projects through intensive lobbying that is not transparent to the public. 
  2. Tighten the bond between science and diplomacy.  Let diplomats engage earlier on issues where science is key.  The Administration has rightly highlighted the role of science as a key discipline to drive U.S. domestic and foreign policy.  Current arrangements are not sufficient to ensure that scientists and diplomats are talking at the early stages of approaching international issues.  At DOD there is a clear understanding of the need for scientists and policy makers to be in constant dialogue on ongoing projects.  There is no such process at the Department of State and perhaps at other federal agencies.
  3. Re-establish the diplomacy and science career track at the State Department in the Foreign Service with positions of authority at all levels leading to an Undersecretary for Science and Diplomacy in order to engage more formally and structurally within the international environment. A bridge between diplomats and scientists in the U.S. and the ability of a professional diplomat with credentials in science to meet and dialogue with counterparts in key capitals around the world makes it much more likely that the right conversations begin much earlier than they do now.  Science savvy American diplomats in place in key capitals and international agencies around the world would be invaluable sources of information and channels of influence.
  4. Bring in more participants from outside the government in working group formats - private enterprise, institutions, and other stakeholders to start discussions earlier than they might otherwise and to speed up the policy formation process.  The working group format is ideally suited for these conversations. The full group meets as often as required to have a broader conversation, not just to sum up work being done, but to compare and contrast views to stimulate the consensus process.  The pools of talent sub-groups within the larger group have a structure and a reason to propose solutions within the larger context of national strategy.  Private enterprise must be part of this conversation in a format other than lobbying government agencies and members of Congress because the government has a strategic purpose in engaging with commercial partners.
  5. Go global.  Use this model or some similar version in dialogue with other countries to encourage consolidation of expert and policy coordination among like-minded states. If the U.S. government adopts this model for managing its national strategy, then other countries will emulate it.  Intra-government conversations and government-private enterprise conversations will be encouraged elsewhere.  International conversations with like-minded partners will reach the action stage earlier.

The driver for both good science and good diplomacy is good intelligence.  Much of what is referenced in summary here is reflected also in the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report of March 2021, entitled “A More Contested World”.  One key statement in the report also reflects our own view, “The scale of transnational challenges, and the emerging implications of fragmentation, are exceeding the capacity of existing systems and structures . . .”

Of the five projected scenarios for 2040, one is optimistic, two are “realist” projections with China and the U.S. as major actors, and two are radical and more dire.  The dystopian choices described should be enough alone to convince us of the urgency of the work ahead.  Dealing with the more negative assessments, as all good planners must provide for, shows us the damage to global stability likely in the absence of effective international collaboration.

Addressing the four less positive and negative scenarios reveals the consequences of failing to proactively research and implement a clear strategy to improve international diplomacy.

In the “A World Adrift” scenario, the international system breaks down as the rules and institutions of today’s structures are little used by the major powers, regional states and non-state actors.  U.S.- China competition and uneven and persistent wide differences in national and international economic growth and development create greater gaps between countries, foster more divisive societies and abandonment of serious effort on international issues of climate, health and political cooperation - a kind of “every country for itself” model vulnerable to great power contention and struggle.  Technology that could help resolve global issues remains on the shelf due to the lack of a collaborative model. 

The “Competitive Coexistence” scenario is less dangerous primarily because both the U.S. and China make economic growth a priority and to some extent achieve co-dependency on maintaining a stable global order.  This advance opens space for international cooperation and technological creativity on some problems.  The competition drives improvements in the energy, transportation, and data spheres, but leaves aside countries struggling with development.  The competing political, cultural and constitutional models between China and its supporters and the U.S. and its supporters impede international cooperation on issues not directly related to trade and advanced economy developments.  The economic rivalry puts national growth ahead of responding to climate change challenges, which continue to worsen.  Long-term stability depends on great power rivals managing the risks inherent to co-existence.

In “Separate Silos” the world fails to manage a co-existence model and the global order devolves into regional power blocs - the U.S, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia, China, India and some rising states - focused on self-sufficiency.  Trade, information, and supply chains are managed regionally.  Developing states face great challenges in responding to competing power bloc demands and opportunities.  Barriers based on security concerns block any appeals to interdependence, and economies retrench.   Social pressures build, including migration, dealt with mainly by the refusal of richer states to accept more than modest numbers of migrants.  The larger international issues of common importance go untended.  Stagnation, lowered income and wealth, and a further trend towards authoritarianism characterizes this model.

In a final model, “Tragedy and Mobilization”, the world confronts the cumulative effects of unmanaged climate change.  Changes in the world’s oceans and atmosphere  result in overfishing, food shortages, and severe supply chain disruptions.  These events trigger younger generation populist movements in many countries that elect governments that undertake radical changes. Other countries, prioritizing self-reliance, independence of action, traditional values and fossil fuel industries, oppose these moves.  This sets the stage for an intense and perhaps prolonged period of global political division. economic struggle and social conflict.  There is no consensus on the global issues that continue to threaten the world. 

Reflecting an American point of view that favors engagement with the world to solve our own problems and to profit by the wealth and stability that emerges, the authors of this report highlight dramatically what happens if America doesn’t step up.  No other country has the combination of resources and foresight to help lead the effort described here, and no other country would be trusted to be as inclusive as the U.S. in going forward with that effort.  If we had looked forward decades ago to understand and accept what was going to be happening today in front of our eyes, we would have had time to better manage the adjustment and implement the remedies.

HOW CAN THE UNITED STATES PLAY ITS PROPER ROLE AND BUILD SUSTAINABILITY?

The United States will be tested now and going forward indefinitely on its resilience and adaptability.  Because we in America will be thus tested, so will the rest of the world.  We will not have the means alone to shape the dialogues or determine the results.  That circumstance seems now to be in the past, at least for the present.  The countries, communities, states and institutions with whom we now share interests, values and perspectives must be our partners.  Correspondingly, it will be the American responsibility to listen more and collaborate more seriously to ensure broadly supported recommendations. 

The United States can and must be a leader, but not the only leader, in this effort.  Partnership in collaboration with other countries will improve our chances for success.  The model we’ve described and the steps to be taken now to make that model more effective present us with a clear opportunity.  Those countries that organize regionally and globally together will be most resilient and most likely to help achieve global sustainability.

Successful outcomes globally and within nations will require shared resiliency measures that that in turn will lead toward a sustainable stable and safe international order.  Resilience is the new watchword for successfully working through traumatic events to emerge stronger and better prepared to deal with future challenges.  Resiliency over time leads to sustainability as individual strategies prove successful and expand across different domains.  In that light, our current crises have been presented in one study not so much as individual “battle(s) but challenge(s) to be weathered.”  In other words, as more of a rolling process than a series of separate encounters.  The author, Ganesh Sitaraman, calls for an American “grand strategy of resilience.”   American cities and counties themselves also provide invaluable insights into these challenges and their similarities abroad.  As the world’s nations grow ever more interactive, so cities and counties in the U.S. and in other countries are more urbanized, complex, diversified and thus more challenging to run well. In 2020, the U.S. urban/rural split was 83/17.  Urban problems call for broad-based complicated solutions that cut across the full social fabric of the cities and urban counties and affect a wide spectrum of interests and concerns.  It is good to recognize that urban residents have been shown to often be more tolerant than non-urban residents of nontraditional attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles, in part because they are much more exposed than non-urban residents to these nontraditional ways.   As we become an urban nation the world is becoming an urban planet. The closer we draw together the more the opportunities for conflict appear and the more sensitive we become to the need to find ways to live together peacefully.  Resiliency and long-term sustainability require effective institutions and cooperation both at the local and global level.  

Anticipatory Diplomacy means turning to multilateral diplomacy more often especially on the most complicated issues involving science, technology, and health, emphasizing a broader, more diverse collaborative multi-stakeholder process, and expanding our foresight to see beyond only today’s issues to evaluate what is coming and prepare for it.  With that collective approach and a strategy of looking years ahead, we should be able to face the future with confidence.

Here, a strong word of caution.  In the past – both recent and distant - states and empires that felt threatened often reacted by doubling down on policies that already had failed to meet the current challenges to try to return to past successes. They turned back, rejecting change.  They were blind to the truth that the way to greater success lay in knowing more about the world and preparing for change rather than trying to roll history back. This classic retrenchment of principle and policy made it impossible for their societies to be nimble in the face of new challenges.  The end result of looking back to move forward was most often failure.  We do not have to listen to that siren song.  America still has great promises to keep and enjoys a position in the world that continues to allow other countries to collaborate on key issues.  If we take a longer, more inclusive, more integrative, and more globally collaborative approach, we can surmount these challenges as we have done many times before.  If we want to continue to be exceptional in the world we will have to reach out to it now with a better way of solving our shared problems and protecting our shared interests.

-----

* Ambassador Pearson is a retired professional foreign service officer who served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 2000 to 2003 and as a director general of the U.S. Foreign Service from 2003 to 2006. He is a Rethinking Diplomacy Program fellow at the Duke University Center for International & Global Studies (DUCIGS) and a member of DUCIGS' Space Diplomacy Lab.