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Gavin Introduces the Newest Issue of the Texas National Security Review

Jan 28, 2021 |

Francis J. Gavin, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University, recently published the introductory essay for the Winter 2020/2021 issue of the Texas National Security Review—a publication which is co-sponsored by the Strauss Center. Gavin begins by describing the theme of the essays which will follow, all of which focus on how “old” issues of foreign and domestic policy need “to be understood and assessed through new analytical lenses.” Gavin then identifies the four reasons why the Biden administration will struggle to adopt such an approach to crafting grand strategy. The first will be the need to reconcile Trump’s understandably negative reputation with the aspects of his policies which were correct. The second is the shifting nature of world politics, as illustrated by various transnational issues like the pandemic, climate change, and the rise of China. Gavin also argues that the U.S. government “is not well structured or situated to pursue an innovative grand strategy to meet new challenges” which constitutes the third challenge. Finally, Gavin cites the “deep sense of polarization, distrust of institutions, and populist anger” as the fourth challenge which will complicate efforts to innovate and implement useful policy. Despite these challenges, Gavin resists calls to label this the start of an era of American decline, using historical examples to illustrate that the nation has experienced similar crises of faith in the past. Gavin does not, however, paint an excessively rosy picture, noting that challenges do abound and only time will tell if the Biden administration is able to innovate and implement a forward-looking grand strategy. Read the full essay here.

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