In Search of “Grand Strategy”

December 18, 2006

In IR speak, “grand strategy” typically refers to the theoretical road-map or over-arching strategic vision which political leaders employ to guide foreign policy decision making. Daniel Drezner was recently reflecting on contenders for “the next big idea” to shape US foreign policy thinking during a post-Bush administration. Read through Drezner’s article and think about how these (or other) grand strategies might be tailored to fit China’s national interests and international aspirations. Is China’s central government leadership already subscribing to a type of “ethical realism” in their foreign policy formulation? How would you describe the grand strategy under which President Hu Jintao is operating?

UPDATE: While Drezner frames his arguments about “grand strategy” using the traditional IR theoretical poles of “realism” and “liberalism” (broadly defined), Patrick Jackson at the Duck of Minerva takes issues with some of his conclusions using “constructivist” theoretical arguments. Don’t let the language scare you off. ( “Theories of structural change are specifications of the conditions under which potential shocks will be absorbed by socio-cultural networks, or will aggregate to produce lasting alterations in modes of relating.” — Yikes!!) For those trying to make sense of this school of IR thought (that means MIPA IR Theory students), this piece provides a good example of how “constructivism” can be applied (even if much of it is academic “nit-picking”).

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