Monday, December 11, 2006

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Any other grand strategies out there... anyone?

For the next few days I'm going to be perusing the various grand strategies that have been put out there over the past year or so. So far I've got Francia Fukyama's "realistic Wilsonianism," Robert Wright's "progressive realism," Lieven and Hulsman's "ethical realism," and Slaughter and Ikenberry's "Liberty under Law."

Here's my question to readers -- am I missing anything? Are there other candidate grand strategies that have been proposed in recent years that I'm overlooking?

posted by Dan on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM


Run For Your Life.

posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

You've already covered the realist and liberal thinking that may set the terms in which a Democratic administration will try to work. Joshua Kurlantzick in the The New Republic last February 13 gave an overview of the emerging schools of thought on Republican foreign policy after Bush.

I would also recommend Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne in The Atlantic Monthly from January 1, 2002. For an overview of long-run alternatives, see also Peter Starobin's article in the National Journal from December 1, 2006.

posted by: David Billington on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

LeMay & Patton's Peace through Superior Firepower.

posted by: Mrs. Davis on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

How about the offshore balancer strategy or Josef Joffe's Britain & Bismarck combination

posted by: Andrew Hart on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

Say you're advising a chess player how to begin a game. You can tell him he's got a choice between the Ruy Lopez, the English Opening, and the Queen's Gambit, and this is fine. However, it will make a difference whether the chess player you're advising is named Zathras or Kasparov.

It is possible in theory to run a perfectly respectable foreign policy based on American primacy and forceful unilateralism without getting stuck on a treadmill in Iraq without any idea either how to win or get out. With a State Department fully staffed in senior positions and not headed by a Secretary whose fashion sense is her outstanding quality, one could conduct flexible diplomacy in multiple parts of the world. And there is no foreign policy doctrine that requires that the President accord the Vice President primacy among his national security advisers -- for the very good reason that no President before George Bush ever did this -- but if a President is weak enough to put himself in this position it is going to effect what his foreign policy looks like.

I think there are quite enough grand strategies floating around now. The closest I can come at the moment to adding another would be "Ismism": the conviction that it is doctrine or at least doctrinal orientation -- and not facts, institutions and personalities -- that is decisive in foreign policy. It sounds as if our foreign policy intellectuals are closer to a consensus in favor of ismism than they are with respect to any of the grand strategies Dan lists.

posted by: Zathras on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

you are missing what can basically be classified as "liberal internationalism." generally, the views of those like Stiglitz, Sachs, Sen... Sweden... most of the "anti"-globalization movement...

posted by: joe m on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]


Thomas Barnett--don't know that he has a school or label--but he was talking a grand bargain with Iran years before any one else. Wesley Clark has recently endorsed one of Barnett's main ideas: the creation of a cabinet level department to co-ordinate reconstruction/failed states, since neither State or Defense are equipped for the job.

posted by: Chris Dierkes on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

I think Dan is looking for *new* grand strategies (or at least ostensibly new) introduced in the last year. Offshore balancing and liberal internationalism have been around for a long time.

posted by: anonymous on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

Based on what Zathras is telling us, I think what we may need is a "Law of Unintended Consequences" analysis applied to the various Grand Strategems. We would of course have to analyze both the ideal execution, and the likely dysfunctional executions. Also, one must look for the inevitable simplifcations caused by men who do not understand all the subtle ramifications of the policies they are called upon to execute.

Let us call this this, for the sake of a pleasing acronym, a "LUCK" analysis, which results in a variable we will call LUCK. In the case of Bush, a bad execution of neoconservatism has resulted in very large bad LUCK. To shrink the bad LUCK, we must find a Grand Strategy which either (i) is Idiot Proof or (ii) has very limited aspirations.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

What one might call Michael Mandelbaum's "benevolent hegemonism," expressed in the Case for Goliath: the idea that the guiding principle of American foreign policy should be to use American power wisely to provide global public goods for the international system at large. This combines elements of both realism and liberal internationalism, and it's essentially the rarely articulated underlying approach of experienced centrists in both parties, from James Baker and Richard Haass to the Brookings crowd....

From this perspective the problem with the Bush approach was not its goals but its execution and its reckless bullying incompetence. Unlike the Princeton folks, this crowd has no naive illusions about international law or kumbaya multilateralism; unlike the true realists they are not quasi-isolationists; and unlike the neocons they believe in prudence, professionalism, and a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.


posted by: lamont cranston on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

Before determining a grand strategy, don't you have to decide on a grand goal?

posted by: Joel on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

Navel-Gazing Joe Bidenism.

posted by: Tim on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

"Overwhelming retribution" - the Ayn Rand Institute

posted by: AR on 12.11.06 at 04:33 PM [permalink]

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