The theme of the day being strategy vs. tactics, this Shawn Brimley piece at Small Wars Journal bears mentioning. Brimley argues for organizing a grand American strategy for the 21st century around the theme of sustainment, and he identifies in particular three vital global interests that America needs to defend by virtue of its position as the world’s dominant power and de facto “leader”:

Beyond the defense of the homeland, a grand strategy of sustainment would commit the United States to the pursuit of three vital global interests: stable balances of power in key regions, an open international economy, and continued access to the global commons. Such things are international public goods, and are thus shared goals that are can constitute a foundation of an efficacious approach to a stable world order.

Ilan Goldenberg at Democracy Arsenal adds a corrective meant to broaden Brimley’s definition of the global commons:

The environment is a global common. World health is a global common. Global warming or a massive pandemic would present threats to the overall system and need to be viewed as important elements in any national security strategy.

I’d agree, but would also underline Brimley’s argument that tactical debates and post-9/11 myopia have clouded our strategic thinking for how best to navigate our post-Cold War unipolar moment. This is a growing meme that I imagine will soon reach a tipping point, perhaps nowhere more than on the blog here today. Of course it’s easier said than done, and often reality gets in the way of neatly organized plans. But acknowledging that the battle against extremist terrorism, while important and far from over, does not constitute an organizing logic for an American grand strategy would be an important start.

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