Walt predicts that America will have to do a lot of adjustment in the next 30 or 40 years.
Question: What is the greatest challenge facing the U.S.?
Stephen Walt: I think that, you know, as someone who has spent most of my career thinking about American foreign policy, I think the United States is going to have to do an enormous amount of adjusting over the next 30 to 40 years – adjusting both to sort of environmental limits that we’re now starting to become aware of; adjusting to China’s emergence as a major power, followed by India’s emergence as a much more consequential state. I think the globalization will affect us the same way it affects everybody else, and that’s gonna require some adjustments. Just to put it in one . . . one frame of reference, the United States has had the world’s largest economy since about 1900. We’re sort of accustomed to being the biggest economic actor on the block. Well at some point – maybe in my lifetime, but not too long after that – that’s probably not gonna be the case. And that’s going to involve some adjustments on . . . on America’s part. And it’s not clear to me that these adjustments were ready to make. Most countries, as they start to become relatively less influential, find it a painful process. I would like to accelerate the learning process. I would like us to learn to adjust to living in a world where we are not just the 800 pound gorilla out there. And I’d like us to learn that as quickly as possible.
Recorded on: 10/8/07