Internet Activities

Chapter 6

“A National Strategic Narrative”

This exercise asks you to read a document, co-authored in 2011 by two members of the US military under the pseudonym “Mr. Y,” that tries to lay out an American grand strategy for the twenty-first century in the same way that George F. Kennan’s “Mr. X” article laid out the grand strategy of containment early in the Cold War.

If you click on the link labeled “A National Strategic Narrative link to original publication at the Wilson Center,” you will be able to view a PDF of the document, which you can download. The page numbers in the questions below refer to that PDF; the actual document begins on page 5, after Prof. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s preface.

1. What do the authors think the United States’ “enduring national interests” are? What “tools” do the authors seek to use to achieve these interests, and what perspective do you think would emphasize those factors?

2. What do the authors mean by a “closed system” view of the international system, and how does that compare to their concept of a “strategic ecosystem” or an “open, complex system?” Which perspectives and levels of analysis do you think best describe those views?

3. On page 6, the authors discuss American values at length. How do you think they trace causal arrows between power, interdependence and interactions, and ideas, and which perspective do you think they are writing from? Can you find specific statements that support your argument?

4. Ask a counterfactual: Would another state with radically different values (like China, for example) have a strategy that emphasized the same factors as this strategy? What does that question tell you about the link between values and strategy?

5. What role do the domestic and foreign policy levels of analysis play in the authors’ analysis, and do they think factors at those levels of analysis can be separated from factors at the systemic level of analysis?

6. What role does globalization play in the authors’ analysis?