Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of "Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy" (HarperCollins 2009), a book that shows how to think about and use power in the 21st century. He is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Question: What is mutual indispensability?
Leslie Gelb: Mutual indispensability is the central operating principle of power in the 21st century. What it means is this. United States is the indispensable leader but we don’t have the power to dictate solutions. We need to get things done to solve problems, exercise our leadership effectively. We need equally indispensable partners. And those are the other key nations of the world. I say in the book that there are eight of them, Germany, Britain, France, Japan, China, Russia, India, and Brazil. If you can put together some coalition of those countries, those become the equally indispensable partners. So we’re the indispensable leader, they’re the indispensable partners. Together we can succeed. Alone we fail, time and again.
Recorded on 5/1/09.