Faced with a rising death toll from Covid-19, a buckling US economy, protests over racial inequity, and challenges from China and others, the Aspen Strategy Group explored strategic responses to this difficult era. The program’s Summer Workshop, which normally assembles its bipartisan group of US and international leaders in Aspen, gathered to virtually discuss foreign policy priorities for 2021 and to explore new themes like racial equality and polarization in America. A consensus emerged after two days of digital discussion: Americans must respond with bold measures to unite the country. The group proposed a new national service mission to expand economic opportunity and help promote recovery through building a more unified society. This fall, the group published its book about the workshop and launched a Global Leaders Series, inviting heads of state to speak at the Institute.
The Aspen Security Forum then gathered leaders from around the world to tackle the urgent global issues. Some—including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—urged the United States to reclaim its place on the world stage. However, in an exchange with Aspen Strategy Group Executive Director Nicholas Burns, Ambassador to the US from China Cui Tiankai summarized his nation’s thinking: “Is the United States ready to live with another country” as a global power “with a different history, different culture, maybe a different governmental system?” Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy underscored diversity as a distinct US strategic advantage: “If you have biases against women, you take 50 percent of the population, the talent pool, off the table. Our strength has always been that we draw from diversity, and we’re better for it when we do.”
The Aspen Strategy Group and Aspen Security Forum, whose discussions help policymakers and others comprehend a changing world, will offer programming over the coming months and will host the Summer Workshop and 2021 Aspen Security Forum next August.