America currently finds itself in the midst of a confused search for a central principle around which to organize its foreign and defense policies. For almost a half-century, until the collapse of the Soviet system in the early 1990's, containing communism was the core doctrine guiding US national security policies. The ``war on terrorism'' has come to serve as a handy substitute. But it fails to provide a solid (or particularly admirable) foundation upon which to base America's role in the world in the 21 st century.
The search for a new grand strategy, or at the very least a new organizing principle, is confounded by the revolutionary times in which we live--an unprecedented era of several simultaneous revolutions, all of which are epic and historic.
Globalization is internationalizing markets, finance, and commerce, while the information revolution is changing the way we work, learn, and communicate. Both revolutions are benefiting the developed, Western world but further dividing the ``haves'' from the ``have-nots,'' in this case those without finished products, services, or resources to trade or without access to new technologies.
They are also contributing to a third revolution, the erosion of the sovereignty--and thus the authority--of the nation state. The failure of states, especially those artificially constructed by great powers after wars or cobbled together by older colonial powers, is becoming a serious international issue and promises to remain so. As the authority of the state erodes, the fourth, and potentially most dangerous, revolution emerges: the transformation of war and the changing nature of conflict.