For much of the past decade, we defined the international environment by what it is not. We called the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall the "post-Cold War era" and have searched since then for a new paradigm under which to develop future policies and strategies. The fateful events of 11 September 2001, followed by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, ended this period of uncertainty.
The phrase that best describes the new era was coined by Thomas Friedman in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Anchor, 2000). He calls it the "globalization era." But what do we mean by globalization—and how can we prepare strategic leaders for this emerging environment?
The essential characteristic of globalization is integration. In a broad sense, we have gone from an era of division to a system built on integration and webs. Before, we reached for the "hotline," which symbolized the division of nations based on political ideology, with two people in charge. Today, we reach for the Internet, a symbol that we are increasingly connected and nobody is in charge.