American Foreign Policy
The four competing visions of US grand strategy are offshore balancing, selective engagement, cooperative security and preponderance. Each strategy has its own unique features that determine the nation’s essential objectives in the international world of politics and the means on how to achieve those objectives. First off, the essential characteristics of offshore balancing includes the “America first” mentality; the belief that meddling too much in international affairs can be counterproductive. In addition, offshore balancing proponents also tend to disengage from overseas alliances/peacetime commitments; adopting an “intervention only if necessary” attitude in the international arena. In terms of economics, it discourages interdependence among states because US economic security can be jeopardized by events such as “balance of trade deficits”(excess imports over exports). Essentially, it is a form of barebones, defensive realism that places its regional priorities exclusively in North America. Offshore balancing is the least ambitious grand strategy due to the fact that the only vital US interest lies in the security of the American people, ideals and assets. Critics state the fact that offshore balancing “embraces a constricted view of U.S. national interests that renders internationalism not only unnecessary but counterproductive.” The belief that disengagement brings security should be preceded with caution because the absence of the US in international affairs will only invoke more competition abroad. Specifically, regional actors would definitely take advantage of this period of US isolationism to acquire more “hard power” and seek to establish itself in its respective area. Finally, the loss of US dominance in the global economic field due to increased attention within the domestic affairs means that we also do not have the management or the say over unanticipated issues that might arise in the near future.
Next, Selective Engagement is a grand strategy that is neither expansive nor restrictive of the overall definition of US interests. The main goals of this strategy focus on both WMD proliferations and curbing terrorist influence. Its support in the global free trade system means that that security of oil sources in the Middle and ensuring stability and security among the great Eurasian powers due to their significant industrial/military potential are both top priorities. Just as the name suggests, this grand strategy focus on selectively intervening in peripheral conflicts to prevent the situation from getting out of control; thus supporting not only strong nuclear deterrence but also a sufficient air and ground force as well. Essentially, it is a traditional balance of power realism that puts the regional priorities on Eurasia; with selective engagement options on both ethnic and regional conflicts alike. All in all, there are three main critiques of this particular grand strategy. First, opponents argue that selective engagement fails to display the “primacy” of the US; it also fails to deliver a commitment to the liberal ideal of cooperative security. Next, critics also questions how the US can be influential force on global matters if it constantly chooses be absent from political events it deem unnecessary. Eventually the lack of presence will undermine its legitimacy when a situation of interest arrives. Finally, with the adoption of selective engagement, “The United States must maintain substantial military forces, threaten war, and risk war largely for the purpose of preventing war.”
Cooperative Security revolves around the idea of utilizing international institutions, regimes, norms and confidence building agreements to achieve lasting peace. In addition, this grand strategy also adopts the option of military intervention for human objectives, nuclear arms control and non-proliferations. The enlargement of global liberal economic order and common ground on...
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