What are the competing visions for a U.S. grand strategy, their objectives, premises and preferred instruments?
U.S. Grand Strategy
Robert J. Art lays out eight possible grand strategies for consideration: Dominion, Global Collective Security; Regional Collective Security; Cooperative Security; Containment; Isolationism; Offshore Balancing; and, Selective Engagement (2003, 82). These strategies are derived from national interests. I will tackle each strategy one-by-one and describe their objectives, premises and preferred instruments.
Dominion – The objective of dominion is imperial world dominance in that America acquires as much power for itself as it can, primarily through the instruments of military force and capabilities, and attempts to refashion the world in its image (Art 2003, 87-88). Art adds another view, Primacy, which is merely “superior influence” rather than total domination (2003, 90).
Christopher Layne essentially calls dominion and primacy by the term of “Preponderance,” and adds that the strategy seeks a “U.S.-led world order based on preeminent U.S. political, military and economic power, and on American values” (1997, 101). Layne explains that practicing extended deterrence and maximizing economic interdependence deal with threats to that order and will prevent the rise of a rival power (1997, 101). Read more
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt “Citizenship in a Republic” speech
The Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
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I think a good starting place to assess executive department policy integration begins with the strategy formulation phase for what types of policies the executive is going to endorse and promote. For the purposes of this post, by executive I mean ‘the President of the United States.’ Ultimately the strategic planning system identifies the ends, ways and means of a sound and compelling strategy that “integrates the processes and documents” of the people working under him and the “people and organizations with which he directly coordinates” (Meinhart 2006, 304, 311). As a scholar, I would want to know how the executive came up with the policy, what the goals were, and what the strategy was to advance the policy.
Yarger adds that the overarching strategy must be proactive and anticipatory, resource-balanced, driven by political purposes, hierarchical, comprehensive and derived from “thorough analysis and knowledge of the strategic situation and environment” (2006, 107-111). He describes the ends, ways and means as national objectives, strategic concepts or courses of action and resources (of national power) respectively, and advocates that good policy must minimize risk for effective integration and execution (111). Read more