Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Stability and Change in U.S. Grand Strategy

Stability and Change in U.S. Grand Strategy


Since the Global War on Terror (more recently termed the Long War) emerged as the centerpiece of U.S. grand strategy in 2001, the post–Cold War U.S. debate has narrowed significantly. Essentially three alternative strategies now compete for pride of place. Two are variants of a “primacy” strategy; one is a variant of “restraint,” sometimes termed “offshore balancing.” All three strategies take globalization as a given and as a positive development. None specifically connects U.S. military power to globalization. To the extent that globalization can be argued to have negative consequences, restraint offers a different remedy than either version of primacy. This article offers a brief characterization of globalization and speculates on its positive and negative results. The three grand strategies that remain visible in the U.S. public policy debate, and their suggested remedies, are then discussed. Finally, the U.S. military strengths and weaknesses are evaluated in order to gauge which strategy’s remedies are most feasible.

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