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PA RT ON E America’s Security THERE ARE ONLY two fundamental doctrinal bases for the design of any broad-gauged set of security policies: Capabilities writ large and the challenger ’s intentions. Doctrine shapes policy according to assessments of relative military, economic, and political capabilities and according to interpretations of the opponent’s intentions, which can vary from the hostile and implacably expansionist to the insecure and fearful. Variations in these encompassing and irreducible criteria allow for three and only three “pure” grand strategies: Adversarial engagement, conciliatory engagement, and nonengagement. Adversarial and conciliatory internationalism are at one in their highly activist policies and their derivation from both capabilities and intentions . Capability (or power) assessments underscore the need for activist security measures. Interpretations of intentions determine whether these measures are firm or flexible, hard or soft. The great differences between adversarial and conciliatory internationalism, between hawkish and dovish policies, are primarily due to divergent understanding of the opponent ’s intentions. Strategic nonengagement’s minimal policy activism derives from an assessment of capabilities and an agnostic position with regard to intentions. A country that is strategically immune to the opponent ’s capabilities need not engage him in order to maximize its security. The United States has adopted each of these grand strategies: Nonengagement from the end of the eighteenth to the close of the nineteenth centuries, fairly rapid shifts among nonengagement and both types of engagement throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and adversarial engagement punctuated by periods of modest conciliatory engagement during its second half. There is no doubting the appropriateness of nineteenth-century isolationism, its effectiveness in maximizing security. Nonengagement’s appropriateness in the twentieth century has been regularly questioned, its effectiveness often vehemently denied on the basis of great changes. Among these are the enormous growth of American economic and military power, the distant spread of economic interests and the threats to them, the German Empire’s challenge to the balance of power in Europe, great advances in military technology, Nazi Germany’s control of Western Europe, Japanese hegemony in the Pacific, the enormous power of the Soviet Union and its worldwide expansionism, the advent and proliferation of nuclear weapons, and an array of great and growing global economic interdependencies. Each of these changes has PART ONE 30 been taken as a major, manifestly persuasive reason for turning to or continuing with an effortful, highly activist security strategy. The reality of these developments has not at all been denied by the historical isolationists or contemporary ones. They are not strategic ostriches . However, twentieth-century developments do not necessarily call for an internationalist strategy. The changes cannot be said to bear significantly upon America’s security without also considering its strategic immunity and comparing the security-enhancing promises of strategic engagement and nonengagement. ...


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MARC Record
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