America’s Grand Strategy Disaster: Op-Ed by Professor Martel

The National Interest

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

While the United States today faces a whole host of challenges from the rise of China, Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea, the question of Iran’s nuclear program to the ongoing civil war in Syria it faces a much more basic challenge that pales in comparison to all the rest. America does not have a coherent, functioning grand strategy.

No nation—superpower or otherwise—can afford to conduct its foreign policy in such a manner. And of course, the United States can implement a grand strategy—we have done it before and we can certainly do it again. The question seems clear: does America want a grand strategy when it comes to its foreign policy goals and aspirations?

It is beyond dispute that the failure to articulate a grand strategy is certainly dangerous. Unless the U.S. and its adversaries understand what the nation seeks to achieve, the boundaries to permissible challenges, and the limits to its forbearance—we are asking for a crisis, which will emerge when other states underestimate what truly matters to Washington. And America itself may be confused as to what it really values until it struggles during a moment of crisis.

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