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Strategy As Appetite Suppressant

By Frank G. Hoffman War on the Rocks

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Airmen of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to take-off on a  C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Ali Air Base, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2011. These  Airmen are the last service members to fly out of  Iraq.  The last remaining U.S. Airmen left Iraq per the Iraq and U.S. 2008 Security Agreement that required all U.S. service members to be out of the country by  Dec. 31. Since 2003, more than 1 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have served in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
Airmen of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to take-off on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Ali Air Base, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2011. These Airmen are the last service members to fly out of Iraq. The last remaining U.S. Airmen left Iraq per the Iraq and U.S. 2008 Security Agreement that required all U.S. service members to be out of the country by Dec. 31. Since 2003, more than 1 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have served in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
Airmen of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to take-off on a  C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Ali Air Base, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2011. These  Airmen are the last service members to fly out of  Iraq.  The last remaining U.S. Airmen left Iraq per the Iraq and U.S. 2008 Security Agreement that required all U.S. service members to be out of the country by  Dec. 31. Since 2003, more than 1 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have served in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
111218-F-MJ260-913.JPG
Airmen of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group prepare to take-off on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Ali Air Base, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2011. These Airmen are the last service members to fly out of Iraq. The last remaining U.S. Airmen left Iraq per the Iraq and U.S. 2008 Security Agreement that required all U.S. service members to be out of the country by Dec. 31. Since 2003, more than 1 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have served in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
Photo By: Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo
VIRIN: 180426-D-BD104-0026

It is tempting to compare successful national strategies to unicorns: They both seem mythical. But while good strategies might be rare, they are very real. And despite the impressions left by recent history, they are possible. There are multiple meanings and purposes for grand strategy; as grand plans, as a set of macro principles, or as patterns of state behavior, as Nina Silove detailed. However, there is a fourth meaning and this purpose now rises to the forefront in salience. This is the role of good strategy as an enforcer of disciplined realism or appetite suppressant.

The current manifestation of U.S. grand strategy is found in the 2017 National Security Strategy, which bears the signature of President Donald Trump. That strategy advances four core national interests via an extensive set of 99 priority actions. The 2018 National Defense Strategy is aligned with its parent strategy in terms of great power competition with China and Russia. Both of these documents — the latter of which I worked on — were crafted with a clear diagnosis of the major challenges facing the United States and with distinctive priorities to advance the nation’s interests. It is not as clear that either strategy is being implemented as written, or that Congress supports the explicit priorities of American grand strategy. It is increasingly obvious that neither document is driving the use of America’s military or budgetary decisions.

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