4 Options for U.S. Grand Strategy Going Forward | News | Department of Political Science

One of the most important but underappreciated aspects of foreign policy that any nation must deal with is its grand strategy. As we have explored, grand strategy outlines how a state manages its resources as a means of achieving its goals. Whether these goals are for conquest, security, the spread of a particular ideal, or economically motivated, every state requires a grand strategy if it is to survive in the modern world. So, as a global superpower, what are the options for US grand strategy? Not just in the current geopolitical climate, but also as we look to the future.

Temperance

After 20 years of occupation in Afghanistan, it is understandable for many Americans to want to move away from military interventions abroad and instead focus on diplomacy. 2021 report RAND: The corporation says that implementing a realistic grand strategy will require the U.S. to “adopt a more cooperative approach toward other forces, reduce its military and primary military presence, and end or negotiate some security commitments.”

A restrained stance relies more on diplomacy to resolve conflicts and encourages other states to take the lead on their own security so that the US can focus solely on vital interests. What will the transition to moderation look like? With this approach, the report said, the country would have a smaller military force, fewer security commitments and a higher deterrent to launching an armed response.

It is one of the most famous of the “restraints”. MIT: Professor Dr. Barry Posen. In his book, aptly titled Restraint, Dr. Posen argues that “the United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on unnecessary military preparations and unnecessary wars, billions it can no longer afford. The wars have needlessly claimed the lives of thousands of US military personnel and injured many thousands more.”

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NDISC: Chief Dr. Eugene Goltz, along with his co-authors Daryl Press and Harvey Sapolsky, expressed their approval of the grand strategy in their 1997 Come Home America article, where they said: “The United States often intervenes in the conflicts of others, but without consistent justification, without a clear sense of advancing US interests, and sometimes with unintended and costly consequences.”

Deep involvement

While containment is controversial, a strategy of deep engagement is also viable. Citing Stephen Brooks and William Walforth, Jeffrey Friedman outlines four key elements of grand strategy:

  1. The US maintains a military power sufficient to defeat any other nation.

  1. Provide security commitments to allies such as: NATOJapan and South Korea.

  1. Take advantage of this safety net for financial gain.

  1. Participation and leadership in a rules-based international order.

A deep engagement strategy is expensive. According to Friedman, the US spends more than 1 trillion dollars annually on its foreign policy agenda.

Brooks and Walforth can count themselves among the deeply involved when they say: “Withdrawal of security guarantees will make the world and the United States less safe. In Asia, Japan and South Korea are likely to expand their military capabilities if the United States withdraws, which could trigger a dangerous response from China.”

Liberal internationalism

20221025 Ndc Grandstrategyrestraint 600x400
Through a grand strategy of containment, the US will pursue diplomatic solutions to conflicts.

While deep engagement may seem like the status quo, the US is not currently committed to a strategy of deep engagement; The current grand strategy is liberal internationalism—in fact, Friedman says, President Trump was an exception to many modern presidents in that his “behavior was. largely in line with prescriptions for deep engagement’ rather than liberal internationalism.

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If this is the current US approach to grand strategy, it is especially important for us to understand what this strategy entails. International liberalism refers to the belief that states should reach multilateral agreements among themselves, uphold rules-based norms, and promote and internalize liberal ideals, particularly liberal democracy. The model of liberal internationalism allows states to intervene in other states in pursuit of liberal goals and humanitarian aid, although violence is a last resort.

Unfortunately, the shortcomings of the international liberal model cannot be ignored NATO The intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the bombing of Yugoslavia represent dark times in the history of grand strategy.

President Woodrow Wilson is considered one of the first modern liberal internationalists, particularly in creating the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are also joining this grand strategy.

Conservative leadership

Does global security depend on the decisions and actions of the United States? Is the US the world’s only hegemon? If this is the case, the US should adopt a grand strategy of conservative dominance. Paul Avey, Jonathan Markowitz, and Robert Reardon argue that while there may be disagreements and differences among group members, “conservative priority formulations of all kinds combine classical liberal assumptions and hegemonic stability theory to arrive at more assertive grand-strategic prescriptions. These prescriptions are based on a theory of hegemonic stability that combines ‘benevolent’ and ‘coercive’ elements.”

The conservative priority, like liberal internationalism, favors the promotion of liberalism, especially democracy in the face of authoritarianism, and free trade against capitalism and communism. Unlike liberal internationalism, however, which prioritizes diplomacy and negotiation, “proponents of the conservative priority do not rule out the spread of democracy by the sword,” such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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It could be said that there were hints of conservative priority when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “International order that reflects our values is the best guarantee of our lasting national interest” [emphasis added].

US grand strategy

The last three of these grand strategies are part of hegemonic stability theory, which asserts that “international economic openness and stability are most likely when there is a single dominant state.” Deterrence, on the other hand, asserts that a state can ensure its own survival by preventing another state from amassing enough power to overthrow it.

Like all good theories, this one can be drawn in two ways.

International institutions important to US interests

yes

No

Domestic institutions critical to securing US interests

yes

Liberal internationalism

Conservative leadership

No

Deep involvement

Temperance

*Table courtesy of Texas National Security Review

As you can see, looking forward, there are many options for a US grand strategy. What politics appeals to you? Ready to learn more and make your voice heard on a larger scale? Notre Dame’s Center for International Security helps provide a platform for students to learn about international relations, foreign policy, and grand strategy. If you want to know more, we hope you will contact us.

Originally published Notre Dame International Security Center the time disc.nd.edu: on October 26, 2022.

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