The notion of building a global grand strategy for the
Clearly, these questions only hint at the range of options available to American leaders in the coming decades; however, such queries are themselves premature absent an answer to some far more basic ones. They may seem almost absurdly obvious, but it strikes me that many disagreements over specific policy stem from these more basic disputes:
The answers to this question are far from self-evident. Across the ideological spectrum, many critiques of American policy stem from disputes over what the
What are the principal threats to those goals' achievement?
In times past, the answer to this question would have been obvious: other states. At least up until the Second World War, and perhaps for some time after that, the principal threat to the peace, prosperity, and international aims of most great powers were embodied in the military capacities of other powers. Foreign policy, for all its diplomatic complexities, consisted basically of making sure enough land, water, ships, tanks, guns and soldiers stood between one's country and the ships, tanks, guns and soldiers of everyone else's (I'm obviously oversimplifying a bit). With the exception of the occasional trans-border pandemic, the only significant threat to international harmony was inter-state warfare.
While a quick glance at the front page of any newspaper is enough to demonstrate that this threat has not disappeared, the late twenieth century has seen the emergence of new obstacles to the smooth functioning of the international system. The emergence of trans-national terrorism has the potential to seriously disrupt global economic and poilitical connectivity (see Global Guerillas for a running demonstration of this threat). The rapid movement of people, goods and information around the globe raises the risk of widespread death from explosive pandemics or proliferating WMDs. Perhaps most frighteningly, the anticipated effects of global warming - increased natural disasters, famine, climate readjustment, receding coastlines - have the potential to initiate a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, precipitate widespread state collapse, emiserate hundreds of millions of people, and deal a crippling blow to any notions of development and progress. A responsible American approach to 21st Century foreign policy must take into account these changing circumstances.
What is the most effective strategy to overcome those threats?
The answer to this question is, of course, well beyond the scope of one post (or one book for that matter); however, any effective global strategy must meet three criteria. First, it must be integrated and holistic. American goals have too often been stymied by conflicting applications of different instruments of policy. If
Second, it must be reasonably flexible. The great advantage of Kennan's strategy of containment was its flexibility within the context of its guiding principles. Where U.S. Cold War policy went most dangerously adrift, it did so when such principles were either completely abandoned (as when supporting Augusto Pinochet) or too rigidly applied (as in
Third, a successful grand strategy must be politically solvent. Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz mention this in a recent article in Foreign Affairs. Without endorsing or rejecting their larger argument, I note simply that the
Readers will notice that I have put forth many more questions here than I have answers. In future posts, I may propose some, but I close with the hope that, going forward,