On forward thinking and the agency the government needs today more than ever
A country as advanced as the United States should never be taken truly by surprise. There may be certain incidental events that come unexpectedly from a tactical perspective, but at the strategic level, there really shouldn't be any developments that come out of the blue.
■ Individual agencies sometimes show real foresight, but it seems peculiar that we don't have a dedicated national strategic planning agency. We get advice periodically from commissions (like Cyber Solarium), think-tank reports, and forward-thinking departments. But we seem congenitally short on holistic attempts to figure out where trouble could turn up and how we could go about preempting it.
■ No one has a guaranteed forecast of the future. But it ought to be someone's dedicated responsibility to consider large-scale, systemic risks on behalf of the American public. Someone to warn that cryptocurrencies could melt down in spectacular fashion. Someone to beat the drum about having enough naval tonnage at our disposal. Someone to advocate for the "strategic" part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
■ More often than not, a task left unassigned is a task that will never be done. Considering the sheer magnitude of the government that is being operated on behalf of the American public, it makes no sense that no one is routinely assigned the task of developing real strategic plans to recognize, give warning about, and learn to account for big public risks.