The American Interest

A New Grand Strategy

Strategy is the art of winning wars, and grand strategy is the philosophy of maintaining an acceptable peace.  America is good at the former and often confused on the latter.  Making the world safe for democracy (Wilson 1917) or fighting freedom’s fight ordained by history (Bush 2002) may be dismissed as tasteless yet harmless rhetoric as long as there is a viable realist design in the background.  No such design exists, however: Exceptionalist hubris has been internalized at both ends of the duopoly.

The new team in the White House is unlikely to grasp that a problem exists, let alone to act to rectify it.  Fools learn by experience, while wise men profit from others’ experience.  Nonetheless, what America needs is a new grand strategy.  Limited in objectives and indirect in approach, it should seek security and freedom for the United States without threatening the security and freedom of others.

The United States should withdraw her troops from Europe and the Far East within three to five years.  Upward of 150,000 American soldiers who are still based in Germany, South Korea, and Japan are not needed, and their continued presence is a hindrance to greater stability in both regions.  The threat to Europe’s security does not come from Russia or from a fresh bout of instability in the Balkans.  The real threat to Europe’s security and to her survival comes...

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