James B. Steinberg, director of the Brookings Institution’s foreign policy studies program, said the international political system is undergoing a profound transformation. It is being reshaped, he explained, by large historical forces, the policies of governments, the activities of corporations and civil society, and the grand strategies articulated by research groups and individual analysts.
In an interview at his Brookings office, Steinberg said he and his colleagues want to help frame the debate about the strategic options that the United States now confronts.
“We are at a time of first-order questions about the nature of the international system. What is the role of the United States? What are the tools at our disposal,” he asked. “We are now debating strategy in a fundamental way, and think tanks have an essential role to play when these first-order questions are being debated, especially think tanks that go deeply into these issues.”
Steinberg said the end of the Cold War and the revolution in communications technology provide new opportunities for global growth and development. But many of these same forces are also intensifying such threats as terrorism, financial volatility, ethnic conflict, international crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Rather than serving as a unifying diplomatic exercise to highlight Iran’s troubling regional activities, the [Warsaw] summit primarily highlighted America’s diplomatic isolation from its European allies.