- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2001

Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution and author of "Defense Policy Choices for the Bush Administration, 2001-2005." He spoke with reporter Nicholas Kralev about the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA) and the issues on its agenda.

Question: What do you think of the idea of having a virtual think tank of young people with a worldwide network to discuss foreign policy issues and what the world will be like in 20 years?
Answer: The main thing is that it's probably good for people to unify and get some strength in numbers and to give a focal point that people like you and I will remember and look to. The downside, of course, is that they are not the only group of people trying to do that, whether it's a real or virtual think tank or a network of former officials or academics.
On the other hand, there is obviously a benefit for international groupings of scholars, and although CENSA is not the first by any means, there may still be a niche for it. When you think about what's out there already, whether in the way of national or international groupings and networks, there are the Aspen Study Group and the Trilateral Commission. These groups frankly are useful for maintaining networks, but their written work usually isn't that stellar. It isn't as good as the individual work of the members of these organizations. If I was going to read something, I would read the individual's, not the study group's reports, almost without exception.
Of course those groups come out of the Cold War nuclear arms race that is much of their origin and association. And as good as they still are, and as good of a role they have played, they can't fully escape their past, and I think they are a bit bogged down by it. A group that was largely oriented toward nuclear-arms control now sometimes finds itself too reflexively against the missile defense plan of the United States. There are just certain kinds of thinking processes that remain in place because of the group's history.
So CENSA may have a niche that it can fit into that other groups are not fully profiting from — whether [or not] this is going to be a concept that for the first time puts young policy-makers in touch with each other around the world before they come to power and then makes global governments possible. That's a pretty dramatic aspiration that I'm not sure I would fully subscribe to. But it's nonetheless true that international dialogue is useful, and these are people who are relatively young compared to many of the others who do these dialogues.

Q: To what extent do you see the idea of global governance materializing?
A: I certainly think that there will be a couple of issues that will require more international governance. Global and environmental issues are probably the most dramatic example, and perhaps some global biological and epidemiological issues.
I'm not sure about other areas, whether it's use of force, immigration and demographic policy, basic political ways of dealing with civil conflict and people's search for autonomy within their nation-states. I think a lot of these problems will look the same in 15 or 20 years.
Proliferation and export controls will be handled with largely the same mechanisms and maybe a growing awareness of the need to coordinate. But of course we have had some of that for 40 or 50 years, ever since the bomb was invented, so it's not as if the incentives for those controls are particularly compelling now.
Those who wanted to say the overall inexorable trend is away from a nation's state toward international governance are going too far, but, nonetheless, one has to recognize that especially in areas of global environmental policy, there are some international problems: global warming, other kinds of atmospheric pollutants, ways of dealing with water in certain regions, ways of dealing with ocean fisheries.
There really is pressure that has not existed before and, therefore, if we're going to constructively handle these problems, it has to be done increasingly through an internationalist approach.
It doesn't mean that Kyoto is the right thing, it doesn't mean that any other particular approach is the right thing, but it does mean that you have to spend more time thinking cooperatively and multilaterally about these problems.
So I would give the Bush administration, for example, a certain leeway for opposing Kyoto, but I would give it absolutely no leeway or understanding whatsoever for its unwillingness to quickly propose an alternative.

Q: How could the current world order change in terms of the balance of power a couple of decades from now?
A: Let's take the use of force and military power as a starting point. If we get to the point where the China-Taiwan problem is solved, and Russia and China don't have their Chechnya and Tibet problems, you could imagine fruition of some of what John Steinbruner talked about as a Cooperative Security Concept: essentially a great-power condominium where there is relatively uniform agreement not to use force against each other and pretty much all the great powers are aboard.
That's a pretty ambitious aspiration for the next 20 years, but it's not out of the question.
If you got to that point, global military force would gradually become something to use to deal with terrorists, criminals, problems in smaller states, potentially international responses to civil conflict, and there would be a greater sense that you didn't need a big superpower providing international stability between great powers you wouldn't have to think in terms of hegemonic stability.


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