NDU National Security Symposium - Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future
8-9 November 2011
at National Defense University
300 5th Avenue
Fort Lesley J. McNair
Washington, DC 20319
"In thinking about the soup of grand strategy, recipes and theoretical principles are equally useless. What works in one case may well not work in another. In various strengths, grand strategy consists of leadership, vision, intuition, process, adaptation, and the impact of a nation's particular and idiosyncratic development and geographic position, but in no particular order or mixture." - Williamson Murray
Most commonly, grand strategy is framed in the context of warfare or at least conflict among nations. There have been exceptions, and the focus of this symposium is not on warfare or preparation for war. Our intent is to promote a discussion about the elements of and prospect for a grand strategy for America.
We believe that an American grand strategy is not only possible, but critical to the future of the nation. A common strategic vision can do much to focus the attention and energies of the nation towards a common good. In a recent published article, Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly the Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, succinctly described the need for a grand strategy or to use her terminology, a national strategic narrative to serve as a guide to the future.
During recent years the U.S. government has generated a plethora of strategies and strategic plans with most aimed at some aspect of security – national, economic, space, cyber, energy . . . the list continues to expand. It appears clear that none of these strategies whether separately or combined gets to the objective succinctly identified by Dr. Slaughter – "a story with a beginning, middle, and projected happy ending that will transcend our political divisions, orient us as a nation . . ." That storyline, with associated ways and means, is the basis for an American grand strategy. Our goals with this symposium are to help illuminate that path to the future and along the way, pose and answer a range of fundamental questions.
- What is grand strategy?
- What lessons does history offer to today's strategists?
- Is a national grand strategy possible in today's world of complexity and divisive political turmoil?
- What is the appropriate role of the President, the Congress, the Departments of State and Defense, and the private sector in developing, supporting, and sustaining America's grand strategy?
- What system or processes are necessary to produce a U.S. grand strategy?
- What is the role of strategic foresight in developing and implementing grand strategy? What are the requirements for intelligence to serve national grand strategy?
- How should we educate today's and tomorrow's leaders to think strategically and develop the necessary skills to develop and execute grand strategy?
- What are, or should be the connections between an American grand strategy and the various national defense and security strategy documents? How can we improve those connections?