Ian Bremmer, founder and president of one of the largest political risk and consulting firms in the world, shed new light on America and its geopolitical position in SMU’s Tate Lecture Tuesday.
Throughout the lecture series, SMU has hosted a variety of speakers. On the day of the State of the Union address, the university received a new look at the presumed global hegemony of the U.S.
“Thanks for missing the State of the Union,” Bremmer joked. “As long as we don’t launch against North Korea, this will be a successful [address].”
Bremmer juxtaposed lighthearted comedy with the reality of political analysis. His words turned from America’s errors to hope in its people.
“Americans never truly show what they’re made of until things get hard,” Bremmer said.
Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has shaped global policy, destroying its only rival through a combination of factors that formed American soft-power policy to this day.
However, Bremmer said the Pax Americana is over. For a variety of reasons, America no longer holds unchecked diplomatic and political power.
The political world was stable as it entered the early 2000s, even with the advent of the worst economic situation since the Depression according to Bremmer.
“The financial crisis hit, and we had the best G20 meeting ever,” Bremmer said.
Bremmer said governments, for all their squabbling, will band together to look strong and competent in the face of a global problem.
Unfortunately, Bremmer believes the U.S. now has a problem. He said the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have a long term artificial intelligence plan worries him.
Bremmer said the U.S. could be heading toward a digital cold war, as China invests in technology through companies supported by its government apparatus directly. But he does not believe it is inevitable.
“I do not believe the U.S and China are inexorably heading for war,” Bremmer said.
Now, the problems plaguing the Pax Americana do not come from a singular sector, Bremmer said. The problem isn’t simply that China has a bigger population, or that America has specifically become complacent or divided.
Bremmer said America focuses too much on long-term, treatable problems instead of serious, imminent crises.
Overall, Bremmer’s message was one couched in terms Americans could stomach, with some American exceptionalism and a few jokes at other countries’ expense. He conveyed the message that while things may get rough, America will always pull through.