In the article "Strategic Collaboration: How the United States Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise," authors Nina Hachigian and Mona Sutphen assert that the United States needs to engage certain powers to remain safe from present-day dangers. Do you agree? Elaborate.

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This essay was written in the twilight of the George W. Bush administration and reflects back on how the events of 9/11 caused the United States to think in more unilateral ways. The authors are looking forward to a new administration and are seeking to persuade policymakers to take a more multilateral approach, especially toward countries they have identified as "pivotal powers": Russia, China, India, and Japan. Their thesis states that

the United States needs a specific, nuanced bilateral strategy toward each pivotal power, but an overarching framework of strategic collaboration is also necessary to manage better and take advantage of today’s geopolitical convergence. Strategic collaboration has four elements: compounding American strengths, constructing close relationships with pivotal powers, collaborating with these powers to solve global problems, and covering our bets.

They argue that the United States, while still very powerful, is no longer able to tackle world problems unilaterally due to the economic and military rise of "pivotal powers." They point out that past alignments based on ideological compatibility (such as the West against communism) no longer seem optimal because global problems (like terrorism and advances in technology) are transcending borders.

Instead, the authors suggest another supranational organization such as the G8 be convened so that the newly powerful countries can meet and work together on common issues. They note with some alarm that some of these countries are forming organizations and alliances on their own and state that the United States should want these "pivotal powers" on their team instead of on someone else's.

We are able to look back now at these recommendations in the light of two succeeding administrations. The advice to work multilaterally to affect global problems such as climate change was put into practice with the Paris Climate Accords, yet we see that agreement would have penalized the United States while allowing China and India leeway to continue carbon emissions. The authors point to the United Nations's framework as well, without factoring in the single vote the United States has in deliberations with others, despite its greater power, resources, and disproportionate funding of that body.

The problem with multilateral agreements involving the United States is precisely the fact that the United States has a larger economy and military, and yet will be limited to one vote in a multilateral agreement. This disadvantages the United States in relation to smaller, weaker, poorer signatories. Also, transnational organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations limit or eliminate the franchise, since citizens of nation-states have virtually no say-so nor recourse with measures that nonetheless can affect them personally. This distance from an unaccountable bureaucracy is the main reason why Britain has voted to leave the European Union.

With 20/20 hindsight it is possible to read this essay and observe red flags such as the economic costs of globalization and the threats to sovereignty that the authors noted in passing. They were unable to perceive the problems with the creation of one more bureaucracy to offer a forum for multilateral discussions, and unable to see that bilateral trade agreements would efficiently address their concerns while best preserving United States interests. Multilateral agreements, while appealing philosophically, realistically make larger, more stable countries vulnerable to any instability in the weaker signatories and tend to disenfranchise the citizenry.

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This article was published in 2008, in the midst of the presidential campaign between then-Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Its thesis is that the rise of global powers like China, India, and Russia actually presents an opportunity for the United States. Rather than a zero-sum game in which foreign policy is enacted unilaterally, relations between the nations have become so intertwined that isolation or unilateralism is impossible. Essentially, the authors argue that the threats—including technological threats, non-state terrorist actors, and environmental concerns—can only be addressed through cooperation of "order-seeking nation-states."

Whether you find the article convincing or not is, of course, a matter of opinion and interpretation. But many of the challenges discussed by Hachigian and Sutphen are as acute today as they were ten years ago. Even the Trump administration, which has generally pursued an "America First" approach to foreign policy, has been forced to recognize the importance of China, for example, in dealing with the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Hachigian and Sutphen also argue convincingly that US failure to participate in measures to address climate change have given India and China a "free pass" to refuse to limit their own emissions. The authors observe that, in order to promote security around the world, the United States must be willing to allow itself to be bound by the same international laws and norms as other countries. This has not, generally speaking, been the case in recent years. Hachigian and Sutphen conclude that, in the years to come,

There is only one right way to approach pivotal powers in the twenty-first century—to draw them near. (57)

Whether this argument is correct or not may be borne out by real world events in the years to come.

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