What Is Grand Strategy? Sweeping a Conceptual Minefield (November 2018)
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Amidst acute geopolitical flux, the study of grand strategy is necessary for scholars and strategists alike. As a framework for scholarship, it trains attention on the highest-order questions of international relations: why, how, and for what purposes states employ their national power, including the crucible of military force. For policymakers, grand strategy defines a nation’s international role, guides the alignment of means and ends, and serves as a lodestar for discrete foreign policy decisions. Yet, despite its importance, the proliferation of academic and policy-analytical work on grand strategy has left the field disjointed, conceptually inconsistent, and difficult to navigate. This article resolves that confusion by distinguishing between three component research agendas within the grand strategy literature: those that treat grand strategy as a variable, process, and blueprint. The “grand strategy as variable” agenda provides a prism through which academics may study the origins of state behavior, with particular attention to the perennial question of how agency and structure interact to produce grand-strategic outcomes. The “grand strategy as process” agenda foregrounds the importance of grand strategizing, whether as a governmental strategic-planning process or as a more generic mode of decision-making. Finally, the “grand strategy as blueprint” agenda proffers broad visions in hopes of influencing future governmental behavior. Identifying these component research agendas and placing them in dialogue yields important policy insights and highlights ripe opportunities for future research.
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Hammer, Will (2020-05)The concept of "grand strategy" is both an overall plan that encompasses the military, diplomatic, economic, and social aspects of waging war, and an analytical lens through which we can examine the progression of historical ...