A Special Issue | May-June 2012

Brent Scowcroft

A Time of Transformation

Robert W. Merry

The Assault on U.S. Elites

Christopher Layne

America's Waning Influence

Christopher Whalen

The Fate of the Dollar

Gideon Rachman

The European Maelstrom

Jonathan Broder

Unfinished Mideast Revolts

Alan Dupont
An Asian Security Standoff

Parag Khanna
Surge of the 'Second World'

The United States and the surrounding world both face mounting crises. They are crises of the Old Order in which the prevailing status quo is crumbling and nobody seems to know precisely what to do about it. In America, the political system is in deadlock as the country grapples with a political reality it only dimly recognizes—namely, that the prevailing political consensus, a legacy of the powerful Franklin Roosevelt presidency, is inadequate to the nation’s looming debt crisis and its runaway elites. Meanwhile, both the global power structure and the global financial structure, solidly in place for nearly seventy years, are breaking down.

These realities are the subject of a cluster of articles in the current special issue of The National Interest. The introduction comes from Brent Scowcroft, the national-security adviser under presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and a formidable analyst of global affairs. Other articles probe the U.S. political structure and the global power and financial structures; the regional ferment in the Middle East, Europe and East Asia; and the emerging “Second World” powers, such as Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia, which are challenging the status quo with growing assertiveness.

These pieces focus not just on current developments but also the historical forces now impinging on the present. Only through a historical perspective can we fully understand the profound developments of our time and glean, perhaps only dimly, where they are taking us.

One thing is clear: they are taking us into a new era. The only question is how much disruption, chaos and bloodshed will attend the transition from the Old Order to whatever emerges to replace it.