Grand Strategy Contending Contemporary Analyst Views and Implications for the U.S. Navy
A “grand strategy” is an overarching plan to employ all elements of national power to advance and fulfill a state’s security-related objectives in the foreign sphere. At its core, a grand strategy outlines the objectives a state seeks, and provides guidance on how the state will achieve them. In early 2011, the Chief of Naval Operations’ Strategic and Planning Division (OPNAV N51) requested that CNA review the ongoing academic debate pertaining to possible evolutions in US grand strategy.
Discussions on this issue have taken on renewed salience in recent years, in light of the rapidly changing strategic environment. Proposals for the most appropriate American grand strategy fall into four categories: hegemony, selective engagement, offshore balancing, and integration of American strategy into collective efforts. These categories differ markedly in their implications for the country, the U.S. armed forces, and the U.S.Navy. Two other categories —isolationism (an oft-mentioned contender in political debate), and world government—both provide intellectually coherent approaches to a grand strategy but are not serious candidates in the current discourse.