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The Four Tests

What It Will Take to Keep America Strong and Good



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About The Book

A “lucidly argued” (Kirkus Reviews), illuminating, and ultimately optimistic roadmap for America’s future and the “tests” the United States must meet to maintain leadership and power in the 21st century—from the former US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In today’s fraught global and political climate, the assumption that America maintains its dominant status in global politics is waning. The divisions between us, economic changes driven by globalization and technology, as well as climate change, pandemics, and the resurgence of authoritarianism, make it difficult to be optimistic about America’s future. But what if we use this moment as an opportunity to think about what might come next, and how to build what we need to succeed?

If we’re going to allow ourselves to diagnose a “polycrisis” then we should also admit the possibility of “polyprogress.” This book is a roadmap for those who want to take America’s challenges head on, and who hold on to the conviction that we can tackle them.

In The Four Tests, Baer argues that we are living through a transition moment and lays out the four tests we must meet:

-Scale: Can the US maintain enough scale—or create a facsimile of it through deeper partnerships with friends and allies—as China and other countries continue to rise?
-Investment: Can the US muster and effectively direct resources toward investments, particularly investments in people, to lay a foundation for American success in the post-industrial economy?
-Fairness: Can the US address unfairnesses in its economy and society so that they don’t stifle growth and undermine social cohesion in a more competitive world?
-Identity: Can Americans build a thin but shared political identity, inclusive of every American, that can hold us together and help us work together in a difficult global landscape?

While each test poses significant challenges, the US has advantages that some of our most vexing competitors lack. Meeting these tests demands changes in behavior and culture—from politicians, corporate leaders, and citizens. But if we meet these tests, then we can be confident of America’s future. The question is not whether we can succeed—but whether we will.

Straightforward and hopeful, Baer’s pragmatic approach will provide fodder for discussion for Trump-supporting aunts and their Elizabeth Warren–stan nephews far beyond the beltway.

About The Author

Elliott O'Donovan

Daniel Baer is senior vice president for policy research and director of the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He served in Governor John Hickenlooper’s cabinet as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2018 to 2019. Under President Obama, he was US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from 2013 to 2017. Previously, he was a deputy assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2009 to 2013. Before his government service, Baer was an assistant professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, a faculty fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, and a project leader at the Boston Consulting Group. He has appeared on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, BBC, PBS Frontline, Al Jazeera, Sky, and The Colbert Report. His writing has appeared in The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalPoliticoForeign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and numerous other publications. He holds a doctorate in international relations from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a degree in social studies and African American studies from Harvard. He is married to Brian Walsh, an economist at the World Bank.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (September 19, 2023)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668006580

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Raves and Reviews

“Neither alarmist nor complacent . . . Against a confluence of negative megatrends, Baer’s tests of what he calls scale, investment, fairness, and identity don’t defy solution, but they resist easy ones. . . . Much to ponder in Baer’s lucidly argued platform.” Kirkus Reviews

“This is a book for those who still believe—in their fellow Americans, in our shared future, in what we can be and do together with patriotism, empathy, and hard work.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Daniel Baer has written a book that every American should read: The diagnostic manual for the engine of national strength. The Four Tests is an unflinching but hopeful manifesto for any citizen who wants to look clearly at ourselves and make practical choices for the future.” —Evan Osnos, author of Wildland: The Making of America's Fury

“America works when Americans put in the work. In The Four Tests, Daniel Baer puts forward an ambitious agenda for building an America that is stronger, healthier, and more united—agree or disagree, his ideas are worth engaging seriously. In a world where we face geopolitical threats from the likes of Xi, Putin, and Kim Jong Un, Baer makes a case for a new vision of American leadership.” —Ben Sasse, author of Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal

“Daniel Baer makes the very strong case that America can continue to compete and lead in this complex, challenging world—and that we can do so by committing anew to our people and our principles. The Four Tests is a must-read!” —Penny Pritzker, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce

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