Shaper Nations provides illuminating perspectives on the national strategies of eight emerging and established countries that are shaping global politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The volume’s authors offer a unique viewpoint: they live and work primarily in the country about which they write, bringing an insider’s feel for national debates and politics.
The conventional wisdom on national strategy suggests that these states have clear central authority, coherently connect means to ends, and focus on their geopolitical environment. These essays suggest a different conclusion. In seven key countries—Brazil, China, Germany, India, Israel, Russia, and Turkey—strategy is dominated by nonstate threats, domestic politics, the distorting effect of history and national identity, economic development concerns, and the sheer difficulty, in the face of many powerful internal and external constraints, of pursuing an effective national strategy.
The shapers represent a new trend in the international arena with important consequences. Among them is a more uncertain world in which countries concentrate on their own development rather than on shared problems that might divert precious resources, and attend more to regional than to global order. In responding to these shaper states, the United States must understand the sources of their national strategies in determining its own role on the global stage.