American Grand Strategy

Concepts, Theory, History and Futures
Presentation by Dr. Steven Metz U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute
April 1, 2008

Concepts and Theory
Definitions, Levels, Dimensions, and Components

Definition
s

Strategy is the integrated and coherent use of power resources to attain desired objectives
– It is in contrast to an ad hoc or "muddling through" approach – Can be formal or informal

s

Strategy has two dimensions
– The horizontal dimension integrates effort across organizations and across the elements of power – The vertical dimension plans for the mid- and long-term future

s

Strategy has two components
– Augmenting one's own strength – Deterring, weakening, thwarting or defeating opponents

Levels
s

s

s

s

Grand strategy: patterns of behavior involving the integrated use of power resources in pursuit of national objectives National security strategy: The component of grand strategy dealing specifically with preventing, deterring, or defeating state or non-state threats Military strategy: the component of grand strategy dealing specifically with preparing for, deterring, preventing, or conducting armed conflict by shaping the security environment, strengthening friends, or acting directly against with opponents and enemies Regional strategy or strategies

Elements of Strategy
s

s

Ends: national objectives as defined by leaders and elites, sometimes on their own, sometimes through consensus building Means: power resources—time, people, effort, money
– military, political, economic, informational

s

Ways: methods, procedures, and techniques for using means to promote or attain ends

The "5-2-2" Approach to Grand Strategy
s

Grand strategy has five components
– – – – – Definition of an appropriate world role Identification of strategic objectives Characterization of opponents or threats (identification of, concept of motivation, strengths, weaknesses, likely actions) Identification of preferred and acceptable methods (applications of the elements of national power, e.g. containment) Identification of the appropriate level of mobilization

s

Grand strategy has two determinants (independent variables)
– – The internal (perceptions and preferences as articulated and shaped by leaders; state of the economy) The external (actions of opponents, partners, fence sitters)

s

Grand strategy has two additional shifting central characteristics: the coherence of the strategy and its supporting consensus

Effective Strategies
Strategies require constant refinement and adjustment s Opponents adjust and adapt
– Edward Luttwak's "paradoxical logic" of strategy—what appears best often is not when facing an adapting opponent who seeks to deter, weaken, thwart, or defeat us

s

Means/ends imbalances sometimes develop
– Three solutions » Revise the ends » Make the ways more effective » Increase the means

s

The global security environment, the nature of the threat, and the nature of armed conflict change

Strategic Culture
Strategic culture is vital, but sometimes overlooked or underestimated. It includes:
s s s s

A nation's way of making and adjusting strategy A nation's way of defining who affects strategy A nation's level of acceptable risk A nation's normative framework

A Strategic Approach to Statecraft
Successful nations tend to be those which
s s

Think and act strategically Constantly refine and adjust their strategy
– Formal or informal methods – U.S. today has the most elaborate formal method of strategy formulation ever seen

s

Develop methods to identify, educate, reward, and empower strategic thinkers and leaders

History
The American Approach to Grand Strategy

Intermixed Traditions
s

Crusading spirit
– – – – A nation defined by values--"beacon on the hill" Proselytizing policy--spread democracy and human rights Low tolerance for moral ambiguity Need to be on the side of "good" and to have partners

s

Isolationism Economism

– Still powerful, particularly in the nation's heartland – Did not apply to the Western Hemisphere – Distance from threats and importance of trade led to tendency to define interests in economic terms

s

s s s

Legalism Realism--a European "import" Reliance on technological solutions to problems

The Reluctant Power
s

Even though the U.S. was the world's dominant economic power by the early 20th century, it was a reluctant political and military power
– Led the creation of the League of Nations, then rejected it

s

World War II was the death knell of isolationism

In Search of a Strategy
s

s

s

s

Initial vision for the post-war world was "collective security" built on the United Nations Immediate and extreme demobilization Emergence of the communist challenge and the Cold War A mission without a strategy

The Coalescence of Containment
s

"Containment" coined by George Kennan
– Immediate and widespread acceptance of concept – Debate over how to implement it and its extent

s

Debates
– – Was it purely political/economic or military? Where did it apply?
» Europe only? Everywhere?

– What were the acceptable means?
» Roll back? Support to insurgents? Covert action? Alliances with friendly dictators? Political warfare?

The Truman Strategy
s s s

"Pactomania" Marshall Plan Military technological superiority
– U.S. would not match the Soviets man for man – Quality would substitute for quantity

s s

s s

Strategic nuclear superiority National Security Act created a more effective and coherent organization Beginning of covert action Internal security—focus on subversion

The Eisenhower Strategy
s s s s s s s s

NSC 68 and the militarization of containment Fear of adverse effects of large defense budgets Massive Retaliation and the ascendance of the airpower Application of containment to new regions like Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America Association with friendly dictators Lukewarm acceptance of decolonization Mobilization of national scientific and technological resources Increased emphasis on national air defense

The Kennedy/Johnson Strategy
s

"People's war" as the prime threat, Third World as the major battleground
– Significant economic and security assistance

s

s

s

Emergence of counterinsurgency; focus of SOF on this role Vietnam did severe damage to U.S. reputation as force for democracy and human rights Sustained superiority in aerospace and naval power

The Nixon/Ford Strategy
s

s

"Vietnamization" and the abandonment of counterinsurgency The ascent of "realism" and an approach utilizing a balance of power logic
– Detente and the "China Card"

s

The search for proxies
– Iran, Israel, Zaire, etc.

s

Emergence of the terrorist challenge

The Carter Strategy
s

A "return to principles"—stress on human rights
– Downplaying the Soviet threat – Attempt to pressure friendly dictators

s s

Nadir of the U.S. military A Soviet global offensive
– – – Southern Africa Latin America Augmentation of blue water navy

s

Narrowing aerospace superiority

The Reagan Strategy
s

Return to a hard line approach to Soviets
– The enemy of my enemy is my friend » Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan

s

Massive improvement of military
– Holistic quality: people, leadership and training in addition to technology – Development of many major weapons systems and platforms

s s s

Spending the Soviets into submission Great emphasis on missile defense Emergence of "LIC" strategy, doctrine, and organization

The Bush 41Strategy
s

A strategy of hegemony and global community
– "Everybody wants to be my baby now"

s

s s s

Wave of global political and economic reform Breaking away from friendly dictators Military downsizing (but in a rational way)
– The two MTW concept and the Base Force

Involvement in multinational peacekeeping

The Clinton Strategy
s s s s s s s

A resurgence of idealism--spread of values, promotion of democracy and market reforms Global engagement Coalition building against "rogue" states Humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping The revolution in military affairs
– Emphasis on creativity, nonlinearity, "out of the box" thinking

Growing focus on asymmetry A stressed military
– Declining size, increasing OPTEMPO

The Initial Bush 43 Strategy
s s

s s

Perception that military transformation needs a jump start Relooking global engagement, humanitarian intervention, and protracted peacekeeping Renewed emphasis on missile defense Skepticism of partnership with some former enemies, particularly China

Bush 43 Strategy Post 9/11
s

– Change the dynamics that generate terrorism – End support for terrorism – Destroy terrorists with “global reach” s Methods – Military action – Law enforcement – Improved intelligence – Homeland security

Objectives

» Pre 9/11 the core of homeland security was forward defense, with some emphasis on air/missile defense and internal subversion » Post 9/11 close defense and the focus on internal counterterrorism paramount » » » Fluid coalitions—friends defined by their relationship with the threat New partnerships—India, Central Asian states Transformed relationship with Russia and, to a lesser extent, China

– Partnerships

Seeking a New Grand Strategy
Debates and Issues

The Current Debate: Components
sAppropriate world role
» A spectrum: Global Imperial Global Engineer Limited

» »

»

Global imperial world role: the United States seeks to determine, shape or dominate security globally Global engineer world role: the United States seeks to shape security globally primarily through partnerships and the use of international organizations Limited world role: the United States determines, shapes or dominates security in some regions but not others

The Current Debate: Components
s

Strategic objectives
– Managing sources of threat and conflict versus ameliorating them
» Amelioration is preferably, but very expensive and risky

– Augmenting regional security structures
» Is this a good idea if it diminished the U.S. role?

– Democracy, good governance, or stability?
» In the long term, democracy is the only assurance of good governance and social stability » In the short term, democratization is usually destabilizing and often does not generate good governance » Is democracy exportable?

– Should the preservation of American hegemony be a strategic objective?

The Current Debate: Components
s

Preferred and acceptable methods
– Rollback versus containment
– Unilateral applications of military power (last resort?, if necessary to maximize effectiveness and minimize risk?, never?) » Role of nuclear weapons – Nature of relationships with partners – When and how "hard" (military) rather than "soft" power will be used – Respect for sovereignty when attacking enemies – Role of covert action – Should U.S. corporations and media play a more overt role in grand strategy?

The Current Debate: Components
s

Opponents or threats (identification, concept of motivation, strengths, weaknesses, likely actions)
– Should U.S. grand strategy remained focused on countering or defeating terrorism?
» How much effort should be devoted to containing rogue states, preventing proliferation, or managing the emergence of new global powers? » How much effort should be devoted to non-military threats that affect security (global organized crime, pandemic diseases, migration, the

adverse effects of globalization, etc.)?

– Should the opponents or threats be defined by their choice of tactics? – Is the root cause of terrorism the absence of political and economic opportunity?

The Current Debate: Components
s

Mobilization
– Are we a "nation at war"?
» If so, why have we not undertaken more extensive mobilization? » Why has Congress not declared war?

– Should we mobilize? – If so, what effect will this have on:
» Non-military sources of national strength like the academia and educational system, the media, the science and technology communities, industry » American dependence on foreign technology, capital, manufactured goods » Methods of military recruitment (i.e. volunteer versus a draft military) » Personal rights and legal protections

The Current Debate: Determinants
s

Internal
– – Growing "red/blue" schism within the American public Potential budgetary crisis
» » Impending demand for increase in social spending as the population ages Trade and spending deficits could generate economic problems

Potential fading of support for an active American world role Will other states attempt to contain or constrain the United States? Can traditional alliances be sustained? Will effective regional security systems emerge? What will America's opponents and enemies do?

s

External
– – – –

The Current Debate: Characteristics
s

Coherence
– Current grand strategy is only moderately coherent, but this is normal in the period following a significant strategic shift » The current era is analogous to the late 1940s when there was agreement that containment was a good idea but disagreement over how and where to apply it. Supporting consensus is fragile due to schisms in the American polity, information saturation (which gives everyone a picture of an opinion toward any application of national power), the way current strategy was formulated (by fiat rather than consensus-building), and the lingering isolationist instinct outside the East and West coast

s

Supporting consensus

Future Grand Strategies
Alternatives

Alternative 1
The Lion Unbound
s

s

Additional major terrorist attacks in the U.S., possibly involving WMD, focus American on GWOT and remove any restraints Very aggressive global posture including preemption and intervention in terrorism sponsoring states and regions
– Long term presence or occupation of central states or regions

s s

Partners and friends are defined solely by their role in GWOT Significant increase in national mobilization and constriction of personal rights
– Development of a full national strategy to augment resources

s

Significant increase in defense budget and size of the military

Alternative 2
The Lion Benign
s

Linear progression and success of existing strategy
– Political, economic, and social reform takes root in the current cauldrons of terrorism; this undercuts the dynamic that generates terrorism – National and regional security capabilities improve

s

s

s s s

The U.S. continues to play the dominant role in all regions, but this is accepted by most regional states Emerging powers like China remain stable and integrate into the global community Proliferation of WMD is controlled Transformation preserves U.S. military superiority Eventually, modest decline in U.S. defense budget, force size, level of national mobilization, and constriction of personal rights

Alternative 3
The Lion Beleaguered
s

Multiple internal wars and state failures, including some in major regional powers, create cascading security dilemmas and humanitarian disasters
– A long list of potentials: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, Ukraine, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela

s

U.S. military involved in large scale, protracted stabilization operations, probably in concert with some partners
– Development of some method of strategic triage – Emphasis on identifying and preventing internal war or state collapse

s

Controlling "loose nukes" becomes the highest strategic priority

Alternative 4
The Lion Disengaged
s

s s

s

Some combination of frustration with Iraq, the widespread disintegration of regional security structures, domestic economic problems, alienation from traditional allies, and lessened dependence on Middle Eastern petroleum forces or allows the United States to diminish its role in the security of some or most regions Major security role in the Western Hemisphere likely to continue Greater focus on and shift of resources to homeland security rather than force projection Preservation of long range strike systems—nuclear and nonnuclear—to deter opponents

Implications for the Army
s

The greatest demands on the Army will come from grand strategies that are active and which seek amelioration of the root causes of conflict
– The highest demand on the Army would come if these conditions hold and the world sees frequent internal conflict, collapse, and humanitarian disasters in large regional states

s

The least demands on the Army would be within a strategy of partial disengagement
– The Army's role would be support to homeland security and, possibly, participation in multinational peacekeeping

s

Linear continuation of the current strategy is likely to create an increased role for the Army (and, probably, a larger end strength) in the mid-term, with a decline coming as the strategy succeeds (probably 5-10 years)

Dr. Steven Metz Strategic Studies Institute U.S. Army War College Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013-5244 Voice phone 717 245-3822 Fax 717 245-3820 Email: Steven.Metz@us.army.mil Web: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/

revised April 1, 2008