Since the end of the Cold War, it has been difficult to look at U.S. foreign policy and identify any grand strategy. Once ensuring the demise of communism was no longer our priority, has the U.S. ever really established a new ultimate goal to work toward? The “War on Terror” might be the closest thing the U.S. has had to a grand strategy since that time.
Does the “War on Terror” really count as grand strategy? It represents a great hope to rid the world of terrorism, but other than that, does it have any real political goals? Does it have a strategic endgame? I would say that it does not, and therefore does not count as grand strategy.
So, what about grand strategy going forward? The current presidential race is not overly focused on foreign policy, but in the moments when it does take one that focus, overarching strategic concerns aren’t really a topic of conversation. Instead, reactionary issues take center stage. How should we react to ISIS in Syria and Iraq? How should we react to Iran’s growing presence on the international stage? How should we react to China’s threat to our cybersecurity? While these are important issues for the moment, none of them move the United State forward in any way toward a particular goal. Do we even know what our goal is at the moment? We have been overtaken by concerns we need to react to right now, and we have forgotten to have a grand strategy. While we debate how we want to move our country forward in the next four or eight years, we should take a moment or three to think about how we want to move forward. About where we want to move forward to. And about what kind of grand strategy it will take to get us to that place.