Archive for the ‘Grand’ Category

Deconstructing Our Dark Age Future

P. Michael Phillips. Parameters, Summer 2009.


The state as described in this article differs greatly from the ideal imagined in the Westphalian paradigm. States do not universally enjoy unrestricted sovereignty. Nor are they equal. In fact, the sovereignty of a great number of the states in the international system is merely ascriptive.

Because these imperfect conditions have more or less existed since long before 1648, it may be more helpful to think of any observed chaos in the international system as the natural condition, rather than a decline into disorder. If the system is not melting down, are so-called nonstate actors as signifcant for the long-term as they appear to be for the present?

The return of multipolarity is a long-overdue blessing in disguise. Shaped properly, the rise of other credible powers may permit Washington to more widely distribute the responsibility of collective security among a more diverse and culturally relevant audience. Shepherding—not resisting—the emergence of multiple spheres of influence within a reconceptualized normative framework, one moving beyond simple Wilsonian idealism, has potential to co-opt potential troublemakers and might offer a better vehicle for expanding global prosperity by increasing the number of empowered stakeholders. Such a system might, over time, evolve into a practical security council of states reflecting not ancient martial relationships, but in-
stead the distribution of actual global power. Most importantly, the United States would be empowered to devise a transition away from the draining role of world policeman to one more befitting a global ombudsman. This shift can at once conserve American power for the long haul while insulating the nation from ultimate responsibility. Finally, such a system would more effectively highlight state troublemakers and allow the United States to focus its finite resources on real rather than imagined threats.

American Grand Strategy after War

Dallas D. Owens and Ionut C. Popescu. Strategic Studies Institute Colloquium Brief, Army War College, 22 May 2009. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website (printable .pdf file).

Tony Cordesman’s Speech at National Defense University on 10 March 2009, 20 March 2009.


Any meaningful strategy must be based on detailed force plans, procurement plans, program budgets, and measure of effectiveness.

If God really hates you, you may end up working on a Quadrennial Defense Review: The most pointless and destructive planning effort imaginable. You will waste two years on a document decoupled from a real world force plan, from an honest set of decisions about manpower or procurement, with no clear budget or FYDP, and with no metrics to measure or determine its success.

If God merely dislikes you, you may end up helping your service chief or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs draft one of those vague, anodyne strategy documents that is all concepts and no plans or execution.

If God is totally indifferent, you will end up working on our national strategy and simply be irrelevant.

After Iraq: The Search for a Sustainable National Security Strategy

Colin S. Gray. Strategic Studies Institute Monograph, Army War College, 13 January 2009. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website (printable .pdf file).

Crafting Strategy in an Age of Transition

Shawn Brimely. Parameters, Winter 2008-2009. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website (printable .pdf file).

Oil and U.S. National Security in the Persian Gulf: An “Over-the-Horizon” Strategy

Eugene Gholz and Daryl G. Press. presented at America and the World, a Tobin Project Conference at Airlie, 14-16 November 2008. Hosted on the Commonwealth Institute website.


… an “over-the-horizon” approach would protect vital US oil interests without incurring the serious costs of the current strategy. It would counter the traditional military threats to Gulf oil interests as effectively as the current strategy, and it would do a better job mitigating the more serious future threats in the Gulf: terrorism against oil infrastructure and domestic instability within oil-producing countries. Furthermore, an over-the-horizon approach would bring US policy in line with American values.

A Grand Strategy of Restraint and Renewal

Barry R. Posen. testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 15 July 2008.


The United States is a powerful country. Nevertheless, it is not as powerful as the foreign policy establishment believes. Political, military, and economic costs are mounting from U.S. actions abroad. At the same time, the U.S. has paid too little attention to problems at home. Over the last decade Americans became accustomed to a
standard of living that could only be financed on borrowed money. U.S. foreign policy elites have become accustomed to an activist grand strategy that they have increasingly funded on borrowed money as well. The days of easy money are over. During these years, the U.S. failed to make critical investments in infrastructure and human capital. The U.S. is destined for a period of belt tightening; it must raise taxes and cut spending. The quantities involved seem so massive that it is difficult to see how DOD can escape being at least one of the bill payers. We should seize this opportunity to re-conceptualize U.S. grand strategy from top to bottom.

The Primacy of Power: The Realism of U.S. Grand Strategy, 1930s-present

Jeffrey W. Taliaferro. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, San Francisco Hilton, San Francisco, CA, 26-29 March 2008.