In both official and academic policy debates, the future is often expected to parallel the recent past. Potential discontinuities are dismissed as implausible, information that conflicts with prevailing mindsets or policy preferences is unseen or viewed as anomalous, pressure for consensus drives out distinctive insights, and a fear of being “wrong” discourages risk-taking and innovative analysis. This conservatism can obscure, and thus reduce, foreign policy choice. Our experience, through several workshops, is that experts tend to underestimate the degree of future variability in the domestic politics of seemingly stable states. This was the case with the Soviet Union, as it is now in the Middle East and, suddenly, in Turkey and Brazil. Globalization, financial volatility, physical insecurity, economic stresses, and ethnic and religious conflicts challenge governments as never before, and require that Americans think seriously about both risk and opportunity in such uncertain circumstances.