Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Defining American Power & Liberal Order
Defining American Power & Liberal Order

Defining American Power & Liberal Order

Paul Miller has written a remarkable book on American grand strategy. In it, he defends the very concept of “grand strategy;” argues that contrary to the opinion of some commentators, the United States has pursued a largely consistent grand strategy, not only since the end of World War II, but from the beginning of the Republic; and that when commentators criticize American grand strategy or claim that it is nonexistent, they are really criticizing the management or execution of successful American strategic principles.

Strategy in general is about making choices in order to enhance one’s competitive advantage. To think strategically is to attempt to answer such questions as: what are our interests? How do we best employ the limited means available to us in order to achieve those interests? How do we proceed—what strategic courses of action are available to us? What are the risks of a chosen strategic option and is that risk manageable? Strategy thus links ends and means, prioritizes ends, and translates resources into means. Although strategy can be described as the conceptual link between ends and means, it cannot be reduced to a mere mechanical exercise. Instead, it is a process, a constant adaptation to shifting conditions and circumstances in a world where chance, uncertainty, and ambiguity dominate.

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