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89 4 Grand Strategy Armed with some basic concepts in international relations and the associated language, we are prepared to move toward a discussion of national security strategy. National security strategy, grand strategy, is not about winning a war in Iraq or about winning a global war on terrorism. Grand strategy is about assuring the position of the United States in the world, its place in the international system of states, and it is a guide to the exercise of power and influence to attain or maintain the desired position. Grand strategy guides the production and use of national power—all instruments of power: Grand strategy unites military and diplomatic strategy. . . . It integrates all elements of national power in policies calculated to advance or defend national interests and concerns in light of anticipated trends and events.1 Strategic theories ascribe cause-and-effect relationships between the use of power and its consequences. In the following two chapters, we review modern strategic thought, including the several variants of Cold War containment , the strategic alternatives offered after the Cold War, and the pronounced swings in the strategies of post–Cold War administrations. But first, some definitions are in order. What Is Strategy? A strategy links ends, ways, and means. The ends of a strategy are the objectives or goals to be achieved, the means include the multitude of resources devoted to achievement of those objectives, and the ways are the methods of organizing and employing those resources to achieve 90 National Security Strategies national objectives. Ways are the heart of strategy formulation. Aligning and balancing ends, ways, and means is the strategic calculation. Not every formulation of ends, ways, and means qualifies as a strategy. Stating lofty objectives inadequately supported by resources is not a strategy; that is little more than wishful thinking. At the other extreme, providing resources for all possible objectives—for example, maintaining large standing military forces capable of responding to all conceivable contingencies—squanders resources and leads to overextension. It is all too easy to fall victim to one of these two pathologies. Tough choices must be made to concentrate resources to minimize risks to the most vital interests while accepting some risks elsewhere. What Constitutes a Good Strategy? A good strategy guides the use of power as events emerge. Without a good strategy, one can only react to events as they occur, yielding the initiative to the enemy by allowing the enemy to select the time, place, and terms of the competition. Some presidents have possessed an overarching understanding of the geostrategic environment, a view of America’s position in it, and a strategy to guide their behavior. Eisenhower, Nixon, George H. W. Bush (41), and Obama responded to crises in the context of a persistent strategy. Other presidents lacked a governing strategic view and allowed crises to dictate responses. Truman, Carter, and George W. Bush (43) reacted to crises outside the context of declared strategy. Presidents are also differentiated by their ability to recognize and seize strategic opportunities . The Nixon and elder Bush administrations offer notable successes in this area. Presidents have differed in their ability to limit themselves to pursuits they could afford. Large, expanding means do not equate to infinite or even adequate means for all objectives. Some presidents’ inability to differentiate between vital and peripheral interests and the threats to them led to a perception of undifferentiated threats and to exhaustive responses. Good strategies minimize risks to vital interests and accept some risks elsewhere. Exhaustive responses are all too common, with Truman, Kennedy-Johnson, Reagan, and Bush 43 offering clear examples. A sustainable strategy is underwritten by public support. Only presidential leadership can build a consensus to commitment. The American Grand Strategy 91 public grants the president wide latitude initiating action but withdraws support without a deliberate and sustained consensus-building effort. Even a concerted effort at consensus building will fail if a strategy is inconsistent with the nation’s philosophy. Truman, Johnson, and Bush 43 are notable in their failure to build a consensus to commitment to their respective wars. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, although beyond the scope of this work, is notable for his sustained effort at building and maintaining a consensus to commitment. All instruments of power are brought to bear in a good strategy. There are limits to what can be achieved with any instrument of power, including the hard power provided by the military. Failure to recognize the limits of military power is a dangerous trap. The complementary use...


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MARC Record
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