Dove and McClain 12, Al Dove is an Australian marine biologist currently serving as Director of Research and Conservation at the Georgia Aquarium Research Center in Atlanta, Craig, Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, “We Need an Ocean NASA Now,” October 16th, http://deepseanews.com/2012/10/we-need-an-ocean-nasa-now-pt-1/
For too longocean exploration has suffered from chronic underfundingand the lack of an independent agency with a dedicated mission. Here, Al Dove and I call for the creation of a NASA-style agency to ensure the future health of US ocean science and exploration. Over a decade ago, one of us (CM) made his first submersible dive off of Rum Cay in the Bahamas. At the surface the temperature was a warm 91˚F and at the bottom 2,300 feet down the temperature was near freezing. Despite my large size, I don’t remember feeling cramped inside the soda can-sized sub at any moment. The entire time I pressed my face against a 6-inch porthole, my cheek against the cool glass, and focused my eyes on the few feet of illuminated sea floor around me and the miles of black beyond. Here in the great depths of oceans I got my first look at the giant isopod, a roly-poly the size of a large shoe. This beast and the surrounding abyss instantly captured my imagination, launching me on a journey of ocean science and exploration to unravel the riddles of life in the deep. A thousand miles away, off the coast of Yucatan Mexico, the other of us (AD) experienced equal wonder at the discovery of the largest aggregation ever recorded of the largest of fish in the world, the whale shark. These spotted behemoths gather annually in the hundreds off the coast of Cancun, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and yet this spectacular biological was unknown to science until 2006. Swimming among them, I reverted to a childish state of wonder, marveling at their size, power and grace, and boggling that they have probably been feeding in these waters since dinosaurs, not tourists, inhabited the Yucatan. Whether giant fish or giant crustaceans, are opportunities to uncover the ocean’s mysteries are quickly dwindling. The Ghost of Ocean Science Present Our nation faces a pivotal momentin exploration of the oceans.The most remote regions of the deep oceans should be more accessible now than ever due to engineering and technological advances. What limits our exploration of the oceans isnot imagination or technology butfunding. We as a society started to make a choice: to deprioritize ocean exploration and science. In general, science in the U.S. is poorly funded; while the total number of dollars spent here is large, we only rank 6th in world in the proportion of gross domestic product invested into research. The outlook for ocean science is even bleaker. In many cases, funding of marine science and exploration, especially for the deep sea, are at historical lows. In others, funding remains stagnant, despite rising costs of equipment and personnel. The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, a committee comprised of leading ocean scientists, policy makers, and former U.S. secretaries and congressmen, gavethe grade of D-to funding of ocean science in the U.S. Recently the Obama Administration proposed to cut the National Undersea Research Program (NURP) within NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a move supported by the Senate. In NOAA’s own words, “NOAA determined that NURP was a lower-priority function within its portfolio of research activities.” Yet, NURP is one of the main suppliers of funding and equipment for ocean exploration, including both submersibles at the Hawaiian Underwater Research Laboratory and the underwater habitat Aquarius. This cut has come despite an overall request for a 3.1% increase in funding for NOAA. Cutting NURP saves a meager $4,000,000 or 1/10 of NOAA’s budget and 1,675 times less than we spend on the Afghan war in just one month. One of the main reasons NOAA argues for cutting funding of NURP is “that other avenues of Federal funding for such activities might be pursued.” However, “other avenues” are fading as well. Some funding for ocean exploration is still available through NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program. However, the Office of Ocean Exploration, the division that contains NURP, took the second biggest cut of all programs (-16.5%) and is down 33% since 2009. Likewise, U.S. Naval funding for basic research has also diminished. The other main source of funding for deep-sea science in the U.S. is the National Science Foundation which primarily supports biological research through the Biological Oceanography Program. Funding for science within this program remains stagnant, funding larger but fewer grants. This trend most likely reflects the ever increasing costs of personnel, equipment, and consumables which only larger projects can support. Indeed, compared to rising fuel costs, a necessity for oceanographic vessels, NSF funds do not stretch as far as even a decade ago. Shrinking funds and high fuel costs have also taken their toll on The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) which operates the U.S. public research fleet. Over the last decade, only 80% of available ship days were supported through funding. Over the last two years the gap has increasingly widened, and over the last ten years operations costs increased steadily at 5% annually. With an estimated shortfall of $12 million, the only solution is to reduce the U.S. research fleet size. Currently this is expected to be a total of 6 vessels that are near retirement, but there is no plan of replacing these lost ships. The situation in the U.S. contrasts greatly with other countries. The budget for the Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) continues to increase, although much less so in recent years. The 2007 operating budget for the smaller JAMSTEC was $527 million, over $100 million dollars more than the 2013 proposed NOAA budget. Likewise, China is increasing funding to ocean science over the next five years and has recently succeeded in building a new deep-sea research and exploration submersible, the Jiaolong. The only deep submersible still operating in the US is the DSV Alvin, originally built in 1968. The Ghost of Ocean Science Past 85% of Americans express concerns about stagnant research funding and 77% feel we are losing our edge in science. So how did we get here? Part of the answer lies in how ocean science and exploration fit into the US federal science funding scene. Ocean science is funded by numerous agencies, with few having ocean science and exploration as a clear directive. Contrast to this to how the US traditionally dealt with exploration of space. NASA was recognised early on as the vehicle by which the US would establish and maintain international space supremacy, but the oceans have always had to compete with other missions. We faced a weak economy and in tough economic times we rightly looked for areas to adjust our budgets. Budget cuts lead to tough either/or situations: do we fund A or B? Pragmatically we choose what appeared to be most practical and yield most benefit. Often this meant we prioritized applied science because it was perceived to benefit our lives sooner and more directly and, quite frankly, was easier to justify politically the expenditures involved. In addition to historical issues of infrastructure and current economic woes, we lacked an understanding of the importance of basic research and ocean exploration to science, society, and often to applied research. As example, NOAA shifted funding away from NURP and basic science and exploration but greatly increased funding to research on applied climate change research. Increased funding for climate change research is a necessity as we face this very real and immediate threat to our environment and economy. Yet, did this choice, and others like it, need to come at the reduction of our country’s capability to conduct basic ocean exploration and science and which climate change work relies upon? Just a few short decades ago, the U.S. was a pioneer of deep water exploration. We are the country that in 1960 funded and sent two men to the deepest part of the world’s ocean in the Trieste. Five years later, we developed, built, and pioneered a new class of submersible capable of reaching some of the most remote parts of the oceans to nimbly explore and conduct deep-water science. Our country’s continued commitment to the DSV Alvin is a bright spot in our history and has served as model for other countries’ submersible programs. The Alvin allowed us to be the first to discover hydrothermal vents and methane seeps, explore the Mid-Atlantic ridge, and countless other scientific firsts. Our rich history with space exploration is dotted with firsts and it revolutionized our views of the world and universe around us; so has our rich history of ocean exploration. But where NASA produced a steady stream of occupied space research vehicles, Alvin remains the only deep-capable research submersible in the service in the United States.
We have the resources – ocean exploration is key to US economic dominance
Cousteau 12, Philippe, special correspondent for CNN, “Why exploring the ocean is mankind's next giant leap,” March 13th, http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/13/why-exploring-the-ocean-is-mankinds-next-giant-leap/
With the iconic space program ending, many people have asked, "What’s next? What is the next giant leap in scientific and technological innovation?" Today a possible answer to that question has been announced. And it does not entail straining our necks to look skyward. Finally, there is a growing recognition that some of the most important discoveries and opportunities for innovation may lie beneath what covers more than 70 percent of our planet – the ocean. Filmmaker James Cameron sets out to explore the deepest part of the ocean You may think I’m doing my grandfather Jacques Yves-Cousteau and my father Philippe a disservice when I say we’ve only dipped our toes in the water when it comes to ocean exploration. After all, my grandfather co-invented the modern SCUBA system and "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau " introduced generations to the wonders of the ocean. In the decades since, we’ve only explored about 10 percent of the ocean - an essential resource and complex environment that literally supports life as we know it, life on earth. We now have a golden opportunity and a pressing need to recapture that pioneering spirit. A new era of ocean exploration can yield discoveries that will help inform everything from critical medical advances to sustainable forms of energy. Consider that AZT, an early treatment for HIV, is derived from a Caribbean reef sponge, or that a great deal of energy - from offshore wind, to OTEC (ocean thermal energy conservation), to wind and wave energy - is yet untapped in our oceans. Like unopened presents under the tree, the ocean is a treasure trove of knowledge. In addition, such discoveries will have a tremendous impact on economic growthby creating jobs as well as technologies and goods.In addition to new discoveries, we also have the opportunity to course correct when it comes tostewardship of our oceans. Research and exploration can go hand in glove with resource management and conservation. Over the last several decades, as the United States has been exploring space, we’ve exploited and polluted our oceans at an alarming rate without dedicating the needed time or resources to truly understand the critical role they play in the future of the planet. It is not trite to say that the oceans are the life support system of this planet, providing us with up to 70 percent of our oxygen, as well as a primary source of protein for billions of people, not to mention the regulation of our climate. Despite this life-giving role, the world has fished, mined and trafficked the ocean's resources to a point where we are actually seeing dramatic changes that is seriously impacting today's generations. And that impact will continue as the world's population approaches 7 billion people, adding strain to the world’s resources unlike any humanity has ever had to face before. In the long term, destroying our ocean resourcesis bad businesswith devastating consequences for the global economy, and the health and sustainability of all creatures - including humans. Marine spatial planning, marine sanctuaries, species conservation, sustainable fishing strategies, and more must be a part of any ocean exploration and conservation program to provide hope of restoring health to our oceans. While there is still much to learn and discover through space exploration, we also need to pay attention to our unexplored world here on earth. Our next big leap into the unknown can be every bit as exciting and bold as our pioneering work in space. It possesses the same "wow" factor: alien worlds, dazzling technological feats and the mystery of the unknown. The United States has thescientific muscle, the diplomatic know-how and the entrepreneurial spirit to lead the world in exploring and protecting our ocean frontier.
Economic strength key to American influence- largest internal link
Hubbard ’10 (Hegemonic Stability Theory: An Empirical Analysis By: Jesse Hubbard Jesse Hubbard Program Assistant at Open Society Foundations Washington, District Of Columbia International Affairs Previous National Democratic Institute (NDI), National Defense University, Office of Congressman Jim Himes Education PPE at University of Oxford, 2010
Regression analysisof this data showsthat Pearson’s r-value is -.836. In the case of American hegemony, economic strength is a better predictor of violent conflict than even overall national power, which had an r-value of -.819. The data is also well within the realm of statistical significance, with a p-value of .0014. While the data for British hegemony was not as striking, the same overall pattern holds true in both cases. During both periods of hegemony, hegemonic strength was negatively related with violent conflict, and yet use of force by the hegemon was positively correlated with violent conflict in both cases. Finally, in both cases, economic power was more closely associated with conflict levels than military power. Statistical analysis created a more complicated picture of the hegemon’s role in fostering stability than initially anticipated. VI. Conclusions and Implications for Theory and Policy To elucidate some answers regarding the complexities my analysis unearthed, I turned first to the existing theoretical literature on hegemonic stability theory. The existing literature provides some potential frameworks for understanding these results. Since economic strength proved to be of such crucial importance, reexamining the literature that focuses on hegemonic stability theory’s economic implications was the logical first step. As explained above, the literature on hegemonic stability theory can be broadly divided into two camps – that which focuses on the international economic system, and that which focuses on armed conflict and instability. This research falls squarely into the second camp, but insights from the first camp are still of relevance. Even Kindleberger’s early work on this question is of relevance. Kindleberger posited that the economic instability between the First and Second World Wars could be attributed to the lack of an economic hegemon (Kindleberger 1973). But economic instability obviously has spillover effects into the international political arena. Keynes, writing after WWI, warned in his seminal tract The Economic Consequences of the Peace that Germany’s economic humiliation could have a radicalizing effect on the nation’s political culture (Keynes 1919). Given later events, his warning seems prescient. In the years since the Second World War, however, the European continent has not relapsed into armed conflict. What was different after the second global conflagration? Crucially, the United States was in a far more powerful position than Britain was after WWI. As the tables above show, Britain’s economic strength after the First World War was about 13% of the total in strength in the international system. In contrast, the United States possessed about 53% of relative economic power in the international system in the years immediately following WWII. The U.S. helped rebuild Europe’s economic strength with billions of dollars in investment through the Marshall Plan, assistance that was never available to the defeated powers after the First World War (Kindleberger 1973). The interwar years were also marked by a series of debilitating trade wars that likely worsened the Great Depression (Ibid.). In contrast, when Britain was more powerful, it was able to facilitate greater free trade, and after World War II, the United States played a leading role in creating institutions like the GATT that had an essential role in facilitating global trade (Organski 1958). The possibility that economic stability is an important factor in the overall security environment should not be discounted, especially given the results of my statistical analysis. Another theory that could provide insight into the patterns observed in this research is that of preponderance of power. Gilpin theorized that when a state has the preponderance of power in the international system, rivals are more likely to resolve their disagreements without resorting to armed conflict (Gilpin 1983). The logic behind this claim is simple – it makes more sense to challenge a weaker hegemon than a stronger one. This simple yet powerful theory can help explain the puzzlingly strong positive correlation between military conflicts engaged in by the hegemon and conflict overall. It is not necessarily that military involvement by the hegemon instigates further conflict in the international system. Rather, this military involvement could be a function of the hegemon’s weaker position, which is the true cause of the higher levels of conflict in the international system. Additionally, it is important to note that military power is, in the long run, dependent on economic strength. Thus, it is possible that as hegemons lose relative economic power, other nations are tempted to challenge them even if their short-term military capabilities are still strong. This would help explain some of the variation found between the economic and military data. The results of this analysis are of clear importance beyond the realm of theory. As the debate rages over the role of the United States in the world, hegemonic stability theory has some useful insights to bring to the table. What this research makes clear is that a strong hegemon can exert a positive influence on stability in the international system. However, this should not give policymakers a justification to engage in conflict or escalate military budgets purely for the sake of international stability.If anything, this research points to the central importance of economic influence in fostering international stability. To misconstrue these findings to justify anything else would be a grave error indeed. Hegemons may play a stabilizing role in the international system, but this role is complicated. It is economic strength, not military dominance that is the true test of hegemony.A weak state with a strong military is a paper tiger – it may appear fearsome, but it is vulnerable to even a short blast of wind.
That’s key to global stability
Gelb ’10 (“GDP Now Matters More Than Force” Leslie H. Gelb is President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a senior official in the U.S. Defense Department from 1967 to 1969 and in the State Department from 1977 to 1979, and he was a Columnist and Editor at The New York Times from 1981 to 1993. Published 2010 by Foreign Affairs in Washington DC, USA . Written in English. Table of Contents A U.S. Foreign Policy for the Age of Economic Power
Today, the United States continues to be the world'spower balancer of choice. Itis the only regional balanceragainst China in Asia,Russia in eastern Europe, and Iran in the Middle East. Although Americans rarely think about this role and foreign leaders often deny it for internal political reasons, the fact is that Americans and non-Americans alike require these services. Even Russian leaders today look to Washington to check China. And Chinese leaders surely realize that they need the U.S. Navy and Air Force to guard the world's sea and trading lanes. Washington should not be embarrassed to remind others of the costs and risks of the United States' security role when it comes to economic transactions. That applies, for example, to Afghan and Iraqi decisions about contracts for their natural resources, and to Beijing on many counts. U.S. forces maintain a stable world order that decidedly benefits China's economic growth, and to date, Beijing has been getting a free ride. A NEW APPROACH In this environment, the first-tier foreign policy goals of the United States should be a strong economy and the ability to deploy effective counters to threats at the lowest possible cost. Second-tier goals, which are always more controversial, include retaining the military power to remain the world's power balancer, promoting freer trade, maintaining technological advantages (including cyberwarfare capabilities), reducing risks from various environmental and health challenges, developing alternative energy supplies, and advancing U.S. values such as democracy and human rights. Wherever possible, second-tier goals should reinforce first-tier ones: for example, it makes sense to err on the side of freer trade to help boost the economy and to invest in greater energy independence to reduce dependence on the tumultuous Middle East. But no overall approach should dictate how to pursue these goals in each and every situation. Specific applications depend on, among other things, the culture and politics of the target countries. An overarching vision helps leaders consider how to use their power to achieve their goals. This is what gives policy direction, purpose, and thrust--and this is what is often missing from U.S. policy. The organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy should be to use power to solve common problems. The good old days of being able to command others by making military or economic threats are largely gone. Even the weakest nations can resist the strongest ones or drive up the costs for submission. Now, U.S. power derives mainly from others' knowing that they cannot solve their problems without the United States and that they will have to heed U.S. interests to achieve common goals. Power by services rendered has largely replaced power by command. No matter the decline in U.S. power, most nations do not doubt that the United States is the indispensable leader in solving major international problems. Thisproblem-solving capacity creates opportunities for U.S. leadership in everything from trade talks to military-conflict resolutionto international agreements on global warming.Only Washington can help the nations bordering the South China Sea forge a formula for sharing the region's resources. Only Washington has a chance of pushing the Israelis andthe Palestinianstoward peace. Only Washington can bargain to increase the low value of a Chinese currency exchange . rate that disadvantages almost every nation's trade with China. But it is clear to Americans and non-Americans alike that Washington lacks the power to solve or manage difficult problems alone; the indispensable leader must work with indispensable partners. To attract the necessary partners, Washington must do the very thing that habitually afflicts U.S. leaders with political hives: compromise. This does not mean multilateralism for its own sake, nor does it mean abandoning vital national interests. The Obama administration has been criticized for softening UN economic sanctions against Iran in order to please China and Russia. Had the United States not compromised, however, it would have faced vetoes and enacted no new sanctions at all. U.S. presidents are often in a strong position to bargain while preserving essential U.S. interests, but they have to do a better job of selling such unavoidable compromises to the U.S. public. U.S. policymakers must also be patient. The weakest of nations today can resist and delay. Pressing prematurely for decisions--an unfortunate hallmark of U.S. style--results in failure, the prime enemy of power. Success breeds power, and failure breeds weakness. Even when various domestic constituencies shout for quick action, Washington's leaders must learn to buy time in order to allow for U.S. power--and the power of U.S.-led coalitions--to take effect abroad. Patience is especially valuable in the economic arena, where there are far more players than in the military and diplomatic realms. To corral all these players takes time. Military power can work quickly, like a storm; economic power grabs slowly, like the tide. It needs time to erode the shoreline, but it surely does nibble away. To be sure, U.S. presidents need to preserve the United States' core role as the world's military and diplomatic balancer--for its own sake; and because it strengthens U.S. interests in economic transactions. But economics has to be the main driver for current policy, as nations calculate power more in terms of GDP than military might. U.S. GDP will be the lure and the whipin the international affairs of the twenty-first century. U.S. interests abroad cannot be adequately protectedor advanced without an economic reawakening at home.
Independently, the US lags in STEM education – ocean exploration is key to innovation that solves the crisis
Beattie and Schubel 13, Ted A, President, Shedd Aquarium, Jerry R, President, Aquarium of the Pacific, “The Report of Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum,” July 19th – 21st, http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/oceanexploration2020/oe2020_report.pdf
In the current competitive global economy, the United States faces a distinct disadvantage. Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in STEM careers. And among those who do pursue college degrees in STEM fields, only half choose to work in aSTEM-related career. The benefits of STEM education are clear. By 2018, the U.S. anticipates more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related occupations, including fields as diverse as science, medicine, software development, and engineering. STEM workers, on average, earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts, and experience lower unemployment rates than those in other fields. In addition, healthy STEM industries are critical to maintaining a quality of life in the United States. A national program of ocean and Great Lakes exploration provides myriad ways to capture public imagination and curiosityto support sustained involvementand more intense exposure not only to STEM topics, but also the humanities and arts. New less expensive tools, such as small ROVs, remote sensing stations, and underwater cameras, enable everyone to participatein ocean and freshwater exploration as citizen scientists. These types of public engagements around exploration, such as through the NOAA kiosks stationed in Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers, provide a glimpse into the true nature of science: not merely as a bundle of textbook facts, but a dynamic enterprise of investigation that is constantly changing as our understanding evolves. The effectiveness of STEM-focused programs are evident; studies have shown not only that young people enjoyinquiry-basedSTEM activities in and out of school settings, but also that sustained involvement and more intense exposure to STEM topics increase youth interest and confidence in their scientific abilities. By engaging the public with ocean and Great Lakes observation, we provide people of all ages with opportunities to explore their natural aquatic environments, and to fall in love with the magic and mystery of scientific exploration.
Inspiration overcomes alt causes
Barker 4, Donald, Masters degrees in Physics, Psychology and Mathematics and is currently working on a Masters in Space Architecture. [“Mars: The Only Goal for Humanity,” December 13th, http://www.thespacereview.com/article/285/1]
Let’s focus on one of the most prominent and endearing reasons for choosing Mars as the primary destination of our human space flight goals. That is, the inspiration of future generations. For years, our public representatives and those pursuing office continuously tout the need to bolster enrollment (and thereby interest) in engineering, math, and science, and therefore support any program—public or private—that seems to promote education in these fields. The overarching cure to the problem has been to throw money at it or establish policies that try to entice students and teachers alike. These have been Band-Aid cures at best. Real education can only occur in light of motivation, and thatmeans motivating students as well as the teachers and even policymakers. A person has to want to learn by seeing a personal benefit in their future or, to a lesser degree, some altruistic sense of curiosity must be instilled. Once the problem of motivation has been addressed, then free market economics will be poised to support the expanding needs of the educational system. When students aremotivated to learn, then a means of supplementing the cost either has been or will be found. Again, this author points out that there is only one modern, human-directed goal that has the intrinsic magnitude to provide the long-term impetus and inspiration for engendering this base level of human motivation. Key to competitiveness
Huggins 11, Michael, Air force research laboratory, propulsion directorate, Richard Negron, Air Force Research Laboratory, Plans & Programs Directorate, Casey Deraad, Air Force Research Laboratory, Phillips Technology Institute, Joe Sciabica, Air Force Research Laboratory, Headquarters, [“Air Force Research Laboratory Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education” November 28th, Astropolitics, 9:193–212, 2011 ]
Innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) hasserved as the cornerstone of the rise to global leadership for the United States. Such innovation will be essential if the nation hopes to maintain its technological and competitive edge in an increasingly competitive global economy. The ability to maintain that edge is at risk, however. There is great concern about the diminishing production of U.S. citizen STEM graduates. Recent trends show that the educational system in the United States is failing to produce graduating seniors who are academically equipped to pursue degrees in STEM fields.1 This dearth of science and technology literacy in the young professional workforce will diminish the country’s ability to create new products and generate high-value jobs. The National STEM Education Caucus agrees, reasoning that the ‘‘foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated, and well-educated work force equipped with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.’’2 Others fear that U.S. national security will be placed at risk if student interest in STEM subject areas continues to dwindle. The United States Commission on the National Security in the Twenty-First Century has summed up this fear as follows: The harsh fact is that the U.S. need for the highest quality capital in science, mathematics and engineering is not being met . . . Second only to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science, technology and education for the common good over the next century.3
Great power war
Khalilzad 11 – United States ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations during the presidency of George W. Bush and the director of policy planning at the Defense Department from 1990 to 1992 (Zalmay, 2/8, “The Economy and National Security,” 2-8, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/259024/economy-and-national-security-zalmay-khalilzad)
We face this domestic challenge while other major powers are experiencing rapid economic growth. Even though countries such as China, India, and Brazil have profound political, social, demographic, and economic problems, their economies are growing faster than ours, and this could alter the global distribution of power. These trends could in the long term produce a multi-polar world. If U.S. policymakers fail to act and other powers continue to grow, it is not a question of whether but when a new international order will emerge. The closing of the gap between the United States and its rivals could intensify geopolitical competition among major powers, increase incentives for local powers to play major powers against one another, and undercut our will to preclude or respond to international crises because of the higher risk of escalation. The stakes are high. In modern history, the longest period of peace among the great powers has been the era of U.S. leadership. By contrast, multi-polar systems have been unstable, with their competitive dynamics resulting in frequent crises and major wars among the great powers. Failures of multi-polar international systems produced both world wars. American retrenchment could have devastating consequences. Without an American security blanket, regional powers could rearm in an attempt to balance against emerging threats. Under this scenario, there would be a heightened possibility of arms races,miscalculation, or other crises spiraling into all-out conflict. Alternatively, in seeking to accommodate the stronger powers, weaker powers may shift their geopolitical posture away from the United States. Either way, hostile states would be emboldened to make aggressive moves in their regions. As rival powers rise, Asia in particular is likely to emerge as a zone of great-power competition. Beijing’s economic rise has enabled a dramatic military buildup focused on acquisitions of naval, cruise, and ballistic missiles, long-range stealth aircraft, and anti-satellite capabilities. China’s strategic modernization is aimed, ultimately, at denying the United States access to the seas around China. Even as cooperative economic ties in the region have grown, China’s expansive territorial claims — and provocative statements and actions following crises in Korea and incidents at sea — have roiled its relations with South Korea, Japan, India, and Southeast Asian states. Still, the United States is the most significant barrier facing Chinese hegemony and aggression. Given the risks, the United States must focus on restoring its economic and fiscal condition while checking and managing the rise of potential adversarial regional powers such as China. While we face significant challenges, the U.S. economy still accounts for over 20 percent of the world’s GDP. American institutions — particularly those providing enforceable rule of law — set it apart from all the rising powers. Social cohesion underwrites political stability. U.S. demographic trends are healthier than those of any other developed country. A culture of innovation, excellent institutions of higher education, and a vital sector of small and medium-sized enterprises propel the U.S. economy in ways difficult to quantify. Historically, Americans have responded pragmatically, and sometimes through trial and error, to work our way through the kind of crisis that we face today.