That was the question–with respect to the global problems we currently face–that Tom Brokaw posed to the spectacular panel at "Enhancing the U.S.'s Role in the World," sponsored by the National Democratic Institute, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Better World Campaign. Some of the participants biggest nightmares?
Richard Holbrooke: Indonesia's assertion of viral sovereignty. Though the dangers of Indonesia's embrace of such a concept are scary enough, the Non-Aligned Movement is looking to take up the issue later this year. The consequences of other nations following suit could be disastrous should a global pandemic breakout within their borders.
Jessica Matthews: Our worsening climate. I don’t think this country is anywhere near confronting its energy use. The choice being presented is one of oil vs. renewables. That's not the choice. We must confront demand, and energy use, and we are frighteningly close to serious consequences with our climate already.
Vin Weber: That Israel might strike Iran. There is no such thing as a quick and precise air war against Iran. Any action against Iran would lead to a protracted war. Whether the United States would be supportive of Israel in this action, Iran has the capability to reach U.S. soil with its missiles.
Richard Haass: We’ve all been asked the question–what’s the most important thing to do?–but the issues that are going to bite us are all ones that are going to take some time to work out. There are a stunning number of problems of significant scale and complexity, for which we are not prepared economically or militarily, and for which we don't have the international credibility to take on alone. This is a sobering moment in International Relations. The next president will face one of the most trying moments of the past 200 years-plus.