In the latest issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, former Clinton administration National Security Council staffer and Georgetown University international affairs professor Charles Kupchan has published an interesting essay titled "Grand Strategy: The Four Pillars of the Future."
The Kupchan essay is partnered in a set considering the future of US grand strategy featuring contributions by Rosa Brooks of the Georgetown University and Law Center and New America Foundation; Truman National Security Project co-founder Rachel Kleinfeld; former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello; and Duke University professor and co-author of The End of Arrogance: America in the Global Competition of Ideas Bruce Jentleson. I will be chairing a session with several of these thinkers along with Democracy editor Michael Tomasky from 12-2 on 11 January 2012 at the New America Foundation. (Those interested, drop me a note, and I'll forward an invitation.)
Kupchan suggests a recipe to rebuild American leadership and power in the world. His four pillars:
1. Restore the domestic consensus on national security and rebuild the economy at home
2. America must judiciously retrench and deal with the problem that its commitments abroad have extended far beyond its interests
3. The US needs to work with emerging powers (like the BRICS plus Turkey) to create a more representative global order that preserves a rules-based international system
4. The US should resuscitate a flagging, choking Transatlantic relationship
Kupchan concludes his grand strategy contribution with this graph:
Progressive leadership at home is essential to the nation's political and economic renewal, which in turn is the foundation for progressive leadership abroad. Since World War II, the United States has been dramatically successful in making the globe more stable, prosperous, and liberal. The recipe for ongoing success in this mission is no different than in the past: a solvent and centrist America reliant on a progressive combination of power and partnership to safeguard the national interest while improving the world.
My sense of what America's strategic course needs to be rides closely to Charles Kupchan's thinking -- but his neatly drawn pillars distract I think from the dire situation America finds itself in today.