Millennials' foreign policy will be characterized by a distinct departure from the hegemonic dominance to which we have grown accustomed. It will be a foreign policy that emphasizes the building of democratic global institutions rather than nation building -- a foreign policy dedicated to cooperation toward inherently shared interests.
We believe in a foreign policy grounded in ambitious aspirations that resolutely bolsters our national security on the pillars of diplomacy and development for long-term security. We reject the notion that a strong national security strategy is based in wielding unilateral military strength. We believe that global human security is necessarily tied to our own national security.
The formative experiences of this "fourth turning" not only demonstrate the failures of past generations, but also serve as a reminder that democratic inspirations must be internally driven. In contrast to the Bush administration's democracy promotion in Afghanistan and Iraq, this generation saw the Arab revolutions live on Al Jazeera.
For the disconnected public and political honchos alike, perspectives are framed by their news sources. In the past, we were limited to a single narrative of international events. The continuously expanding sources of news and analysis in the form of blogs, alternative news channels, and social media sites contribute to a more holistic view of events. They give the new generation the option to reject privileged and static perspectives in favor of innovative and critically examined solutions to our problems.
The next generation of foreign policy makers will be much more inclined to understand the human hopes and fears of others -- a conscious shift from the otherization and vilification that characterizes past foreign policy. Due to the massive growth of immigrant communities, especially those of South Asian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern heritage, second generation Americans (or those who grew up as the friends and classmates of second generation Americans) will, for the first time, be our defense and diplomacy leaders. We see examples of this shift with the appointment of Rajiv Shah, the Indian-American Administrator of USAID, and Waco, Texas-raised Rashad Hussain, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Significant swings in the ideological direction of America are taking place. In 2008, Millennials, still too young to hold national political office, first realized and flexed their political muscle with a strength that propelled Barack Obama to the White House. And Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. Ideological yet pragmatic Millennials are sure to be the major source of influence in the coming era. There are more Millennials than Baby Boomers, their ranks are and over three times that of Generation X.
The next generation of Americans will not continue on the track of foreign policy grounded in brute protection of national interests because we will internally challenge it. Winograd and Hais argue in their book 2011 book Millennial Momentum that Millennials will shift away from the top-down approach to foreign policy in favor of a grassroots, community-based, and inclusive movement. As reflected in this year's 10 Ideas for Defense & Diplomacy, the future of American diplomacy will be characterized by equal and constructive diplomatic relations with our allies and adversaries -- relations based on understanding shared interests and respect for sovereign agency.
Tashin Chowdury, a student of the City College of New York, offers a novel approach in the exercise of American soft power. With the diplomacy of past generations wholly defined by top-down, personality-dependent hierarchies, Tahsin offers a refreshing alternative. His proposal exemplifies a bottom-up Millennial approach to global diplomacy.
Lily Roberts, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores a systemic yet overlooked crisis in our defense budget debates. In her engaging paper, Lily offers insight and realizable solutions to this problem, proudly advocating for the rights of neglected veterans.
Daniel Pitcairn, a student at Yale University, has been working on one of our most exciting projects. With his colleagues at Yale, Daniel has been working directly with NATO representatives to conduct a research study surveying the attitudes of Millennials towards NATO. Daniel writes about his findings and analysis in his thought-provoking article.
The ambitious, yet implementable, policy proposals of these three students represent progressive Millennial thought that will soon dominate the sphere of defense and diplomacy policy. In defense policy, this is manifested as a prioritization of urgently needed care for our veterans. For the future of U.S. diplomacy, this means building common understandings and shared experiences between communities and negotiations grounded in inherently shared interests. At its core, it is a movement driven by a collective understanding of the need for grassroots- and community-based change -- a movement defined by empathy for our own citizens as well as our fellow human beings.
Ahmad Soliman is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy and a senior at the University of Michigan, where he studies business administration and political science.