Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an article written by James B. Steinberg, dean, LBJ School of Public Affairs.
You will take office at a challenging time. U.S. troops are still deployed in an unpopular war in Iraq. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Emerging powers, especially China and India, are demanding a greater say in world affairs. U.S. allies resent America’s propensity for acting unilaterally, yet also fear it will withdraw from global leadership. This is a pivotal moment: the United States can either return to the strategies that helped it become the most powerful and respected nation on earth—or continue down a path that will lead it to be feared or ignored. To steer the nation in the right direction, you must begin with some core principles. Start by listening. The United States may not always agree with its friends—and certainly won’t with its enemies—but there’s much to be gained by entertaining others’ views before heading off boldly on its own. To get off on the right foot, invite respected Islamic thinkers and leaders to an ongoing White House dialogue to bridge the gap between America and the Muslim world. Next, the United States must seize opportunities to serve broader global goals as well as its own—starting with climate change. More and more countries are coming to recognize that this is one of the world’s most important threats. By providing leadership, you can shape the agenda, demonstrate respect for others, dramatically reduce dependence on unstable energy-exporting states and capitalize on American ingenuity and know-how to find technological fixes.
How To Lead the World: To Restore America’s Greatness, Start by Listening to Others and Tending Matters at Home.