U.S. Grand Strategy for the 1990s and Beyond

by Thomas J. Hirschfeld


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The profound global changes foreshadowed by the events of 1989 suggest the need for new strategies and different forces for the United States. This Note shows how the changed global environment could permit the evolution of different kinds of U.S. forces to support four alternative future U.S. strategies suitable for different situations: (1) retain the full range of mission capabilities as the last remaining global power, (2) rely mainly on collective security by preparing to engage in combat operations only in cooperation with others, (3) confine U.S. military cooperation with others primarily to logistic and technical support, and (4) maintain a mobilization base against the worst contingencies. The author concludes that all postulated strategies assume the U.S. need for a healthy mobilization base, some requirement for rescue missions, and a permanent capability to inflict punishment at a distance. Strategic nuclear weapons remain necessary under all strategies, as does the need to continue honoring those alliance commitments that remain. Finally, these strategies imply different investment priorities.

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