Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era (February 2018)

Brands, Hal
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Texas National Security Review
In early 1992, the Pentagon’s primary policy office — the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy — prepared a draft classified document known as the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG).1 In late February and early March, that document was leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which published extensive excerpts. Those excerpts, which highlighted the most striking language and themes of the document, detailed a blueprint for American strategy in the post-Cold War era. The United States would not retrench dramatically now that its superpower rival had been vanquished. Instead, it would maintain and extend the unchallenged supremacy it had gained when the Soviet empire collapsed. Washington would cultivate an open, democratic order in which it remained firmly atop the international hierarchy. It would discourage any competitor from challenging for global leadership. It would prevent emerging or resurgent threats from disrupting a broadly favorable environment. And to protect this advantageous global order, America would retain unrivaled military power. In essence, the DPG outlined an unabashed program for perpetuating U.S. primacy.