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Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures

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Table of Contents

Contents: (Level 1) Introduction (Level 1) Chapter One: The Problem: Fateful Decisions in Uncertainty (Level 1) A Global most likely Scenario (Level 2) Russia: Working Authoritarianism (Level 3) China: Strong State (Level 3) Making Decisions in this most likely Future (Level 2) Can we do better? (Level 2) Chapter Two: Potential Applications: Historical Cases (Level 1) The Disintegration of Yugoslavia (Level 2) The Failure of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations (Level 2) The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 (Level 2) The US Invasion of Iraq (Level 2) The Arab Spring (Level 2) Obama Grand Strategy (Level 2) The Syrian Civil War (Level 2) Chapter Three: Value of Scenarios (Level 1) What about Prediction? (Level 2) Timing is almost everything (Level 2) Beyond Timing: the Importance of Process (Level 2) What's a good set of Scenarios? (Level 2) Chapter Four: The Scenario Construction Process (Level 1) Design of Scenario Process (Level 2) Selecting Participants for Scenario Workshops (Level 2) Pre-Workshop Research on Drivers of Change (Level 2) Drivers Paper: (Level 2) China 2020 (Level 3) Ukraine 2020 (Level 3) The Scenarios Process: Syria (Level 2) How to Facilitate (Level 2) Composing the Scenario Narrative (Level 2) Some Lessons Learned (Level 2) Traps (Level 2) Chapter Five: Future Applications and Policy Process (Level 1)

About the Author

Michael F. Oppenheimer is Professor for Global Affairs at the Center for Global Affairs of New York University's School of Professional Studies


"[Oppenheimer] reasons that as a diminished superpower, the United States will not be able to suffer as many surprises or mistakes as it has in the past. Washington is thus under pressure to better anticipate and prepare for events even when prevention may prove impossible. This is a reasonable pitch and a good way to motivate the need for adding new tools to our policymaking kit." -- Perspectives on Politics "Constructs detailed scenarios that could plausibly take shape, by starting with what is known about the current situation and then imagining different ways in which events and decisions might unfold... Oppenheimer makes a persuasive case that scenario planning can encourage more agility and flexibility in policymaking." -- Foreign Affairs "Foreign policy strategy requires planning for multiple scenarios, imagining alternative futures, and facing up to risk. It also involves a constant, honest, rigorous assessment of whether existing policies are working - including how to adapt if they're not. Michael Oppenheimer shows how to conduct precisely these kind of assessments in his extremely useful new book, based on years of practical experience. The result is a work that should prove worthwhile to policymakers and analysts - indeed anyone interested in improving the quality of American foreign policy." --Colin Dueck, Associate Professor, George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs. "Michael Oppenheimer has written a comprehensive user guide to scenario-based analysis. But Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures is also much more than that: a thoughtful plea for the systematic application of methods that would help our policymakers lay bare their underlying assumptions, improve their recognition of unfolding trends, and, ultimately, better prepare the United States for even the most unpredictable of world events." --Daniel S. Markey, Senior Research Professor in International Relations and Academic Director of the Global Policy Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University "The only thing certain about the future is that it will surprise us. This seminal work, by one of the pioneers in the field of scenario analysis, offers a creative but disciplined way of thinking about the future. It provides illuminating perspectives on Russia, China, and other pivotal countries, along with a practical guide for developing and applying scenarios to policy-making in a complex world." --Robert Hutchings, Dean, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin "To be secure in a rapidly changing world, America needs a better balance between assertiveness and restraint in its global policies. That balance can best be discovered by constructing careful scenarios of future alternatives. Here is an invaluable guide for using scenarios to test for strategic coherence and tactical agility." --James Hoge, former editor, Foreign Affairs "In his latest work, Michael Oppenheimer addresses the crucial weaknesses of American policy-making with a call for 'strategic coherence and tactical agility'. Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures is a necessary how-to for practitioners operating at the front lines of business and politics." --Ian Bremmer, President, Eurasia Group and author of Superpower "Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures will appeal to readers who are interested in foreign policy decision making and, to a lesser extent, those interested in the current debates about US grand strategy." --H-Net Reviews

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