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Change: The Only Constant

By Allie Schlicht

April 11, 2024

In Response to Our New, Non-Polar World

What should the United States’ place be in the world?

Perhaps this question in and of itself is too Americentric a way to begin this reflection on Nesrine Malik’s piece. However, it is a question that students and universities in the United States should consider deeply as we prepare for the coming shifts in the geopolitical landscape.

Nesrine Malik’s piece, “Our New, Non-Polar World,” offers a striking critique of Western foreign policy. The geopolitical order is shifting. The few powerhouses are becoming many as countries in the Middle East and Africa are gaining influence through shows of soft power. Meanwhile, the United States seems embattled with only its own domestic political wars. Countries like Qatar are stepping up as leading gas suppliers to European countries, and the Western circle of influence seems to be shrinking as many others grow. The previous pillars of global power are dispersing.

Without the few powers controlling the global narrative, perspectives are growing more diverse, and individuals are beginning to question the status quo. “Moral and security credentials are up for grabs,” Malik says. The world is deliberating on what ideas should be prioritized and what will hold the greatest value in the future of international relations.

Living memory is short, so it may be difficult to remember that U.S. dominance is new in the grand scheme of things. The world is ever-changing. U.S. students and universities must prioritize providing a platform for non-Western-dominated perspectives. Prioritizing Western narratives will only create future leaders who refuse to see beyond a United States-first perspective. Universities have the distinction of shaping the ambitions and perspectives of the next generation of leaders. However, they must also bear the burden of educating their students with a diverse information base. Encouraging dialogue and sharing diverse perspectives can form a more open-minded populace prepared to adapt to future developments.

“Declining superpowers can choose to come along with it, seeking relevance through consensus and consultation, or they can choose to barricade themselves against it and become overtaken,” Malik says.

Must the United States’ only place in this world be fighting for global hegemony?

Change may be frightening, but that does not mean it is always bad. We need to take opportunities to broaden our perspectives and learn to adapt to collaborate with the rest of the world to find the best overall solutions. Perhaps then, we can move away from egocentrism towards a safer, healthier, and happier world for everyone.

Allie Schlicht (SFS’27) is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.