America in 2024: Challenges in Re-shaping its Global Strategy

By Robbin Laird

Recently, I talked with Dr. Harald Malmgren and focused on how he viewed the major challenges facing the United States and its need to re-shape its global approach to the realities of the world in which we now live.

He identified two key challenges and then we talked about a third as well.

We started with what he saw as one of the most fundamental shifts facing American political elites and much of the public, namely the increasing irrelevance of a bipolar modality in facing the historical epoch in which we now live.

Malmgren: “Although the U.S. has labelled this as an era of great power confrontation, the world is accustomed to such an idea throughout much of the history we have lived through.

“But it has been thought of as a binary choice, one between democracy and communism in the time of the competition with the Soviet Union and during the world war, between freedom and totalitarianism.

“We do not face such a choice currently.

“The United States has developed a powerful global military but the Russians and Chinese, to mention the two primary global competitors, are not prepared for an all out military confrontation with the US.

“Instead, working together, they are focused on avoiding direct confrontation while engaging in a in a multiplicity of disruptive military, political and economic activities globally which erode U.S. strength and prevent decision makers from harnessing U.S. military power in a focused confrontation with its adversaries.

“For example, Russia is using widely deployed mercenaries armed with economic tools to reduce dramatically the influence of France and the U.S. in large swathes of Africa.

“While China uses an aggressive array of bribes and threats to reshape the politics of the various sovereign nations throughout the Indo-Pacific area, the U.S. does not have in place official government institutions to counter this wide array to micro manipulations and interventions.”

We then moved to the second issue which he raised.

Malmgren: “The new thrust into space competition with Russia and China is from the private sector side of the U.S. economy.

“But the government has for so long dominated U.S. space activities, it carriers a mental furniture into the new competition which significantly reduces the speed and pace necessary for the U.S. to compete and protect its interests.

“Ironically, the authoritarian powers seem to pursue a freedom in space activity which should be more natural to a system built historically on free enterprise but which now seems more government encumbered and focused on dealing with things like promoting government enforced climate change initiatives.”

Third, we discussed the debt issue and its impact on American actions.

Throughout our lifetimes there has been a dominance of the American economy. This has led to complacency with regard to the public debt as the assumption is that the American economy is so attractive compared to others that foreign buyers of American debt have nowhere to go other than to service our debt.

This leads to “short-termism” in terms of American fiscal policies, and no standing back and taking a realistic look at a global situation in which alternative financial systems are emerging.

Notably, the survival and thriving to some extent of the Russians in the face of Western sanctions has seen evidence of an alternative global economy to the American-led one.

As Malmgren underscored: “The servicing of our debt is so high that is cutting into investments in growth.

“The energy tied up in servicing, managing and leveraging debt is the primary U.S. government priority in the economy, rather than fostering private sector growth, the real driver of gain for the United States.”

In short, we have entered a new historical era, and the U.S. government faces fundamental challenges in re-shaping its role in order the United States to protect its interests and remain competitive.

It is good to get advice from a seasoned strategist facing his 89th birthday in July and who started as a “whiz kid” in the Kennedy Administration.

Featured Image: Photo 296295867 | 2024 © Pintxoman |

Author’s Note: We are publishing a collection of essays which Dr. Malmgren has written for us since we began publication 15 years ago.

We are releasing it in honor of Dr. Malmgren on the occasion of his 89th birthday.