What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What foreign policy experts do you admire?

 

Leslie Gelb: The people I found to be the greatest of all were the people who led our country at the end of World War II and at the start of the Cold War, President Harry Truman, Secretary of State George Marshall and his successors, Secretary of State Dean Acheson. These guys were so brilliant, it makes me jealous. Here's what they did.

First, they set up all these international institutions, the UN, the World Bank, IMF, NATO, and the like. Real international institutions that we led. We didn't try to dictate. We couldn't dictate even then but we led them. And these institutions were so good, they helped us prevail in the Cold War, and they exist even today. That's how good they were, workable.

Secondly, they understood even then that our economy was our ultimate strength for our democracy, for our military power, for our diplomatic power, for everything. And they looked at a world where the Soviet Union, at the end of World War II, had five million troops in Eastern Europe, and people here were clamoring, go nuke them. Because if they take over Eastern Europe, they'll take over Western Europe, all Europe will be gone. But they didn't do that. Instead, they concentrated on building up the economies in Western Europe and Germany in particular. And last time I looked, we won the Cold War, not the Soviet Union. And all the predictions about the Soviets taking over Western Europe, I don't think it happened.

And take China. Mao conquered China and everyone said, Chinese communists are in control in China, they'll take over all of Asia. Last I look, China's our biggest investor.

Truman, Marshall, and Acheson concentrated on building up the economic power of Germany, Japan, along with that of the United States on the presumption, which was absolutely correct, that once you added up those three economies, strong economies, that we would have 75%, 80% of all the economic, military, and diplomatic power in the world. And we did. And they figured out if you had that, you couldn't lose.

 

Recorded on 5/1/09.

 

 

Leslie Gelb: “These guys we...

Newsletter: Share: