13 November 2011

Grand Strategies ~ Cohesive US Global Visions...

Thanassis Cambanis writes in the Globe Wanted: A grand strategy ~ In search of a cohesive foreign policy plan for America...
"A “grand strategy” describes the real-world framework of basic aims, ideals, and priorities that govern a nation’s approach to the rest of the world. In short, a grand strategy lays out the national interest, in a leader’s eyes, and says what a state will be willing to do to advance it. A grand strategy doesn’t prescribe detailed solutions to every problem, but it gives a powerful nation a blueprint for how to act, and brings a measure of order to the rest of the world by making its expectations more clear. [...] Earlier this year a top Obama aide seemed to belittle the very idea of a grand strategy as a simplistic “bumper sticker,” something that reduced the world’s complexity to a slogan. But, in a sense, that’s exactly the point of having one. To be truly helpful in time of crisis, a grand strategy must be based on incredibly thorough and detailed thinking about how America will rank its competing interests, and what tools it might use to project power in the rest of the world. But it also demands simplicity: a principle, even a simple sentence, reflecting our values as well as our interests, based on right as well as might, and as clear to America’s enemies as it is to the American electorate."
The historic & contemporary examples mentioned include...
  • Manifest Destiny ~ "Natural" expansion across the continental Americas;
  • Wilsonian Idealism ~ Self-Determination in the face of retrograde powers;
  • Kennan's Containment ~ Cold War-era defense against Communist expansionism;
  • Bush's Freedom Agenda ~ Spreading democracy thru means including preemptive war;
  • Obama's Basket of Tactics ~ A few medium-sized ideas and improvised responses to unexpected crises;
  • Off-Shore Balancing ~ Keeping America strong by keeping the rest of the world off balance;
  • Internationalist Tinkering ~ America should focus on rebuilding its international relationships and coalitions, while reserving America’s right on occasion to act decisively and alone;
  • Declinism ~ Fearing America’s economy and domestic infrastructure are collapsing, and the nation’s global influence will follow, unless America concentrates its resources on rebuilding at home;
  • Neo-Imperialism ~ America needs only be more brash and more demanding and think of selves as “global dominators”.
Fascinating stuff. Of course, I think they all miss the boat entirely.

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