The article was written last year, but timely given the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Grand strategy requires states to have a long-term plan. It also requires that means and ends be clearly articulated and calibrated to each other. The Obama administration’s long-term plan appears to shift U.S. economic and military assets away from the Middle East and toward Asia.1 The Middle East, however, shows no signs of relinquishing its role as the world’s central battleground. Furthermore, means and ends are mixed together as priorities under the Obama doctrine.
The Obama doctrine holds that fiscal constraints, including the need to reduce the deficit and debt, and rebalancing of the U.S. military away from the “wartime strategy” of the last decade dictate national priorities in defense and foreign policy.2These priorities are: protecting the homeland; ending U.S. involvement in the two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; countering terrorism and dismantling terrorist organizations, especially in the Middle East and North Africa; rebalancing U.S. economic diplomacy and military resources toward the Indo-Pacific region; enhancing existing relationships with allies in Europe and elsewhere; developing new partnerships with states and regional organizations; maintaining a leadership role in major international organizations; controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction; reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles; resizing the military and reducing the rate of increases in defense spending; and improving and using cyber techniques, drones, and special operations forces to combat state and transnational threats as much as possible.
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