Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures: Scenario Planning for International Politics

ISBN : 9780199397099

Michael Oppenheimer
272 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Michael Oppenheimer's Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures is both a synthesis of our knowledge on scenario planning and a practical guide for policymakers. One of America's leading scenario planners, Oppenheimer has advised the Department of State, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President's Science Advisor, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution. In this book, he develops a sophisticated and coherent method for foreign policy specialists who necessarily deal with rapidly changing situations involving high levels of uncertainty. As he explains, figuring out possible outcomes and designing and appropriate policy requires an ability to identify the drivers of change, the potential wild card events, and the central policy questions in any given situation. Once policymakers determine these, they must plan a scenario. To do that, planners need to know how to build the best team of experts possible, run a session, and create credible narratives for different scenario alternatives. To illustrate how it all works, Oppenheimer draws from a range of real-life planning scenarios, including China, Syria, and the Iran nuclear crisis. To be sure, new crises will arise that supplant these current ones, but his basic method will aid policymakers in almost every future situation. While nothing ever goes completely to plan-least of all international conflict-preparing with multiple scenarios in mind will always be the least worst approach to global and regional crises. Methodologically rigorous and comprehensive, Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures will be essential reading for policymakers and policy students trying to determine the best path forward in any given crisis.


Contents: (Level 1)

Introduction (Level 1)

Chapter One: The Problem: Fateful Decisions in Uncertainty (Level 1)

A Global most likely Scenario (Level 2)

Russia: Working Authoritarianism (Level 3)

China: Strong State (Level 3)

Making Decisions in this most likely Future (Level 2)

Can we do better? (Level 2)

Chapter Two: Potential Applications: Historical Cases (Level 1)

The Disintegration of Yugoslavia (Level 2)

The Failure of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations (Level 2)

The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 (Level 2)

The US Invasion of Iraq (Level 2)

The Arab Spring (Level 2)

Obama Grand Strategy (Level 2)

The Syrian Civil War (Level 2)

Chapter Three: Value of Scenarios (Level 1)

What about Prediction? (Level 2)

Timing is almost everything (Level 2)

Beyond Timing: the Importance of Process (Level 2)

What's a good set of Scenarios? (Level 2)

Chapter Four: The Scenario Construction Process (Level 1)

Design of Scenario Process (Level 2)

Selecting Participants for Scenario Workshops (Level 2)

Pre-Workshop Research on Drivers of Change (Level 2)

Drivers Paper: (Level 2)

China 2020 (Level 3)

Ukraine 2020 (Level 3)

The Scenarios Process: Syria (Level 2)

How to Facilitate (Level 2)

Composing the Scenario Narrative (Level 2)

Some Lessons Learned (Level 2)

Traps (Level 2)

Chapter Five: Future Applications and Policy Process (Level 1)


Michael Oppenheimer is Professor for Global Affairs, New York University Center for Global Affairs