Summary of Big Bets & Black Swans

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As President Barack Obama begins his second term, foreign policy scholars at Brookings believe the time is right for America to reassert its global leadership. They provide 20 short memoranda that lay out big issues, complete with background information and concise recommendations. The subjects are either “big bets” – strategies that could be transformational for the US, the world and the president’s legacy – or “black swans” – events that nobody expects to happen but that would have devastating consequences if they did. This smart report earns stylistic points for being more internally aligned than most documents with multiple contributors. getAbstract recommends it to policy makers, global businesspeople and students of foreign affairs.

About the Authors

Martin Indyk is vice president and director of foreign policy at Brookings, where Tanvi Madan is a fellow and a director of the India Project. Thomas Wright is a fellow in Brookings’s Managing Global Order Project. Gail Chalef was the project designer.



“A Plastic Moment”

After World War II, the US was at the forefront of creating a “liberal world order” by advocating free market capitalism, democracy and internationalism. America stepped into a plastic moment in history – a malleable juncture when the world needed leadership and restructuring – to set standards of stability, security and governance. That order is weakening, but a new plastic moment has arrived. President Barack Obama’s task in his second term is to conceive and execute a foreign-policy strategy that will maintain and expand the liberal world order for the future. Brookings offers 20 recommendations on how to handle the US’s “big bet” policy issues and its “black swans,” unlikely developments, but those with major impact if they happen.

“Big Bet: Bringing Beijing Back In”

China mistrusts US intentions in Asia. President Obama should establish rapport with China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. The Chinese should know that America wants a stable, economically strong Asia and takes no sides in territorial disagreements. The US should engage in bilateral meetings with the Chinese on military, economic and political subjects. The US can propose various...

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    J. F. 8 years ago
    Another left wing commentary..This is why I cancelled. How about fair and balanced!
    • Avatar
      Erica Rauzin 8 years ago
      Dear Mr. Fulcher,

      We're sorry you cancelled, and we hope to win you back. However, I want to hasten to clarify for other readers that getAbstract is completely politically neutral and works hard to present books and papers – like this one – from the full spectrum of opinions. The authors whose work we cover have a broad range of outlooks as befits our mission of helping our subscribers stay well informed across the board. Many thanks for your comment. Erica Rauzin, Managing Editor