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Chapter II A NATIONAL STRATEGY: CONTEMPORARY CONTOURS AND THE HISTORICAL RECORD EVERY GRAND STRATEGY has its characteristic and distinctive features, the elements that bind it together and distinguish it from others. These can be most clearly adumbrated by placing them within a comprehensive typology of security strategies. The first part of this chapter delineates the most basic classificatory scheme for ordering all security strategies. Placing adversarial and conciliatory internationalism within it brings out their great policy and doctrinal commonalities. Opposing these commonalities are the central features of a national strategy. The second part of the chapter describes the national strategy’s policy and doctrinal contours. The most distinctive policy, and the one that allows for and largely orders the others, is the drawing of an exceptionally narrow security perimeter, beyond which political-military activism is limited to a bare minimum. The doctrine of strategic nonengagement takes the form of five propositions or strategic tenets. They are summarized and their policy implications fleshed out at this point. The following five chapters develop and substantiate them for the years since 1950. The third section reviews isolationist security arguments from the end of the eighteenth century to the demise of the old isolationism in the middle of the twentieth. Contrary to the severe criticisms to which they have been subjected by historians and political scientists, this historical review shows them to be invariably reasonable and plausible. It also shows that critiques of strategic internationalism were regularly warranted. The review can be read in conjunction with the first parts of chapters 8, 9, and 10, which discuss the historical isolationists’ extrasecurity arguments regarding America’s international ideals, domestic political ideals, and economic and social welfare. I Most security typologies are one-dimensional. They are limited to what is variously referred to as the hawk-dove, adversarial-conciliatory, firmness -flexibility, and hard line–soft line continuum. But a second continuum ranging from low to high activism, is equally basic. Taken together, CHAPTER II 32 these two dimensions depict the irreducible and comprehensive dimensions of any security strategy. It is commonly forgotten that choosing between a firm or flexible policy involves not one, but two strategic choices: Whether to interact with the other side at all, and if so, whether to do so in a hawkish or dovish manner. In fact the activism dimension has analytical, if not also empirical , priority. Firmness or flexibility is contingent upon the decision to interact with the other side in the first place. Only then does it matter whether this is to be done in an adversarial or conciliatory manner. This point comes through in Albert Hirschman’s influential study Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, an analysis of the alternative reactions to the poor performance of firms, organizations, and governments on the part of consumers , clients, members, and citizens.1 Why is a dissatisfied customer, for example, likely to exit by switching to another brand, voice a complaint to the company, or remain a loyal customer? Hirschman’s analytical framework is broad enough to encompass a great diversity of circumstances, including those of a status quo state’s reactions to the poor performance—the security-threatening actions—of a challenger. But these need not be elaborated in order to appreciate the argument that exit, voice, and loyalty are not comparable decisions, that they do not reside at the same analytical level. Those actors who voice their complaints , as well as those who remain loyally silent, have already made a prior decision. They chose to remain actively engaged; not to exit.2 To suggest that the activist dimension must be included in the typology of security strategies, it is necessary to ask how it stacks up against any other possibility. How do the alternatives to activism compare with it as one of the two elementary and inclusive dimensions of a strategic typology? During the 1970s and early 1980s there was a growing appreciation of the possibility of an inadvertent nuclear war between America and Russia . Avoiding such a war served as the impetus for the development of a strategic dimension focused upon the “rationality” of policy choice. The “owlish” concerns of Graham Allison, Albert Carnesale, and Joseph Nye highlighted inadvertent decisions and actions—rushed, careless, faulty, unauthorized, and accidental. While hawks and doves are said to work on the rational premise that the rival’s decisions are the product of selfconscious , calculated, reasonably accurate beliefs and assessments, owls “focus primarily on loss of control and nonrational factors in history. In this view...


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