Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy

The RAND Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy draws on research and expertise from across the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation to examine America's broad approach to engaging the world.

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Latest Publications

Evaluating Competing Claims in the Debate about U.S. Grand Strategy

  • A Japan Ground Self Defense Force soldier (left) and a U.S. Army soldier (right) salute the Japanese and U.S. flags during the opening ceremony of Rising Thunder 2021 at Yakima Training Center, Washington, December 1, 2021, photo by Spc. Dean Johnson/U.S. Army

    Economic Benefits of U.S. Alliances and Military Engagement

    Decisions about alliances and forward military presence should be based on a range of factors beyond potential economic benefits. But there is evidence that military engagement has historically helped the U.S. economy by promoting international commerce.

    Sep 1, 2022

  • Presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy at a ceremony honoring service members who supported the international response to the unrest in Libya, at Cannes City Hall, November 4, 2011, photo by MC2 Stephen Oleksiak/U.S. Navy

    Weighing Entanglement Risks of U.S. Security Relationships

    Some analysts argue that security relationships cause the United States to adopt its partners' interests, incentivize allies and partners to engage in reckless behavior, and risk getting dragged into conflicts. Others contend that the United States avoids entanglement by keeping its own interests in mind.

    Nov 22, 2021

  • A hearing to examine U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program, on Capitol Hill, March 25, 2021, photo by Andrew Harnik/Pool/Sipa USA

    How Does Defense Spending Affect Economic Growth?

    Prioritizing defense spending over infrastructure investment might undermine economic growth. Given that the size and health of the U.S. economy are ultimately the basis for the nation's military power, policymakers should consider that the economic effects of defense spending have consequences for long-term security.

    May 7, 2021

Examining Alternative Approaches to U.S. Grand Strategy

Commentary

What Is Grand Strategy?

A grand strategy describes a nation's most important and enduring interests and its theory for how it will defend or advance them, given domestic and international constraints.

We debate grand strategy when we ask big-picture questions:

  • Which countries are America's allies and adversaries?
  • How should Washington manage its relationships with these countries?
  • In what situations should the United States use force?
  • Which regions should Washington prioritize?
  • What should the U.S. forward presence look like?

U.S. grand strategy is not necessarily captured in a single document, but the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy documents are good starting points for understanding this concept.

What Does This Center Do?

There is active debate about the future of U.S. grand strategy in the academic community. In basic terms, the question is whether the United States should continue to "lean forward" or chart a new course by "pulling back."

Both the academic literature and the policy community have raised important issues about each approach. But there are significant analytical gaps that prevent people from fully understanding which path the United States should choose.

The center's aim is to focus on specific analytical gaps and advance the discussion by

  • adjudicating competing claims about grand strategy by assessing the evidence
  • exploring new approaches to grand strategy—and developing the policy implications that flow from them.

By pursuing these goals, the center will help policymakers and the public better understand the choices facing the United States on the global stage.

Organization

Miranda Priebe is the director of the Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy.

The center is an initiative of the International Security and Defense Policy Program (ISDP). ISDP conducts in-depth research to help U.S. and allied leaders make tough decisions about national and international security. ISDP is part of the RAND National Security Research Division.