Power, Security, and Leadership in the 21st Century


Power, Security, and Leadership in the 21st Century

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 - 15:19
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Government leaders must use the instruments of national power to provide present-day security while setting the conditions for a secure future.

Leaders are responsible for envisioning, shaping, and safeguarding the future, creating clarity amidst uncertainty. This is no small feat and it is made increasingly difficult in the 21st century where rapid, unforeseen change seems to be the only constant.

Safeguarding the future requires analysis of the proper relationship between power and security in the 21st century. Given the tremendous change transpiring in every facet of life—culture, governance, economy, energy, climate, and others—any effective analysis must begin with a solid understanding of what power and security mean in this century. Is everything fundamentally different, or do some verities remain? How does a leader think about the relationship between power and security?

In the following piece, we seek to answer many of these questions and provide critical insights that help national security leaders analyze power, security, and decision-making in a time marked by great uncertainty. To do this, we present the perspectives of two leading thinkers, Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), respectively. Both bring a rare combination of practical and reflective erudition in this area.

We hope that their perspectives present new ways of thinking about power, security, and leadership in the 21st century. This is the first in a series with the next installment set to examine the decision-making process focusing on the use of intelligence and information. We intend to conclude our series by looking at how information capabilities and leaders’ decision-making abilities must change in order to adapt the instruments of power and apply them in securing the future.

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