[Simon Reich and Peter Dombrowski, The End of Grand Strategy. US Maritime Operations In the 21st Century. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY, 2017. 238 pages]


review / Emili J. Blasco

The concept of Grand Strategy is not univocal. In its most abstract sense, used in the field of geopolitics, the Grand Strategy refers to the geopolitical imperatives of a country and determines what a state must necessarily do in order to achieve its success. purpose primary and fundamental in their relationship with others, usually in terms of power. In a minor Degree In abstraction, the Grand Strategy is understood as the principle that should govern the way in which a country deals with conflicts on the international stage. This is what, in the case of the United States, is often referred to as the Doctrine of a President and aspires to create a rule for the response, especially the military one, that must be given to the challenges and threats that arise.

This second, more concrete sense is used in The End of Grand Strategy. Its authors do not question that there are geopolitical imperatives that should mark a certain action of the United States, constant over time, but that it is intended to provide a unique strategic response to the variety of security risks that the country faces. "Strategies need to be calibrated in a timely manner. agreement with operational circumstances. They exist in the plural, not in a singular grand strategy," warn Simon Reich and Peter Dombrowski, professors at Rutgers University and the Naval War College, respectively, and both experts on defense affairs.

For both authors, "the notion of a grand strategy implies the vain search of order and coherence in an increasingly complex world", "the very idea of a single grand strategy that serves everything is of little use in the twenty-first century. In fact, it's often counterproductive."

Despite the doctrines that are sometimes invoked in some presidencies, in reality different strategic approaches often coexist in the same mandate or there are even specific strategies that transcend presidencies. "The U.S. does not favor a dominant strategy, nor can it," Reich and Dombrowski warn.

The End of Grand Strategy. US Maritime Operations In the 21st Century

"The concept of grand strategy is discussion in Washington, in academia and in the media in the 'singular' rather than the 'plural'. The implication is that there is a path to securing U.S. interests in a complicated world. Debaters even tend to accept a fundamental premise: that the United States has the ability to control events, and that in this way it can afford to be inelastic in the face of a changing and increasingly challenging strategic environment," the two authors write.

The book examines U.S. military operations so far this century, focusing on naval operations. As a maritime power, it is in this domain that the actions of the United States have the greatest strategic expression. The result of that review is a list of six strategies, grouped into three types, that the U.S. has operated "in parallel" and "out of necessity."

1. Hegemony. It is based on the global dominance of the United States: a) primacist forms are commonly associated with American unilateralism, which in the twenty-first century has included the neoconservative variant of nation building (Iraq and Afghanistan); b) leadership strategy or "cooperative security" is based on the traditional coalition in which the United States assumes the role of first inter par; it seeks to ensure greater legitimacy for U.S. policies (military exercises with Asian partners).

2. sponsorshiptags. It involves the provision of material and moral resources in support of policies basically advocated and initiated by other actors: a) formal strategies, which are specifically authorized by law and international protocols (partnership against pirates and terrorists); (b) informal strategies, which respond to the request of a loose coalition of states or other entrepreneurs rather than being authorized by intergovernmental organizations (catches at sea).

3. Entrenchment: a) isolationism wants to withdraw U.S. forces from the instructions reducing U.S. commitments in international alliances and reassuring U.S. control through strict border control (a barrier against drug trafficking from South America); b) containment, which implies selective participation or balancing from outside (Arctic).

The description of all these different actions shows that, in the face of the approach As a theorist looking for a unifying principle, there are actually a variety of situations, as the military knows. "Military planners, by contrast, recognize that a variety of circumstances require a menu of strategic choices," say Reich and Dombrowski. U.S. policy, in the internship, does not replicate any single strategy. It reflects all of them, with the application of different strategic approaches, depending on the circumstances."

The authors conclude that "if observers were to accept that no grand strategy is capable of prescribing responses to all threats to U.S. security, they would necessarily recognize that the purpose The primary part of a grand strategy is only rhetoric – a statement of values and principles that lack operational utility." "By definition, the design The architectural structure of any single, abstract strategy is relatively rigid, if not static in fact – intellectually, conceptually, analytically, and organizationally. And yet that one grand strategy is expected to work in a context that demands enormous adaptability and routinely punishes rigidity. The military leadership is far more aware than academics or politicians of this inherent problem."

What are the benefits of a plurality of calibrated strategies? According to the authors, it underscores to politicians and citizens the limits of U.S. power, sample that the U.S. is also influenced by global forces that it cannot fully control and tempers expectations about what U.S. military power can achieve.

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