America’s crystal ball on strategy is murky. Officials in the next administration will face a complex world, will receive conflicting advice, and will need to mobilize domestic support for their policies. They must nonetheless act, most likely without the convenience of a single threat such as the Soviet Union during the cold war or terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In this conclusion, our aims are to highlight the decisive issues of consensus and contention that resonate across the chapters. We seek to delineate the trade-offs involved in making choices, and we hope to illuminate the national security dilemmas that any administration must grapple with as the United States helps to shape, and is shaped by, the next stage in world politics.

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Copyright © 2008 Oxford University Press. This book chapter first appeared in To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine.

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