Global Security Forum 2020: A New Era for U.S. Alliances

The U.S.-led system of alliances is more important than ever. Global cooperation with U.S. leadership has long undertaken responsibility for economic stability, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and prevention of large-scale violent conflict. In 2020, as the country prepares to transition from the Trump presidency to a new Joseph R. Biden, Jr. administration, that list of responsibilities now includes managing a global pandemic while reinvigorating the power of American values in competition with an increasingly coercive China. The United States will need allies, partners, and friends as it wrestles with a changing international order; more capable and numerous rivals; and mounting challenges to human security at home and abroad.

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The 2020 Global Security Forum workshop convened a bipartisan group of 60 leading national security experts to examine how best to adapt the U.S.-led alliance system to meet this new era of complex challenges. Experts considered three distinct, difficult scenarios set in hypothetical futures between 2024 and 2030. They examined the relative alignment of U.S. and allied interests in these plausible “worlds” and recommended steps that could be taken today to strengthen future alliance cohesion, capability, and capacity.

This report is made possible by the generous support of Leonardo DRS.

Alexander Kaplan

Research Intern, Risk and Foresight Group

Samuel Brannen

Emma Bates