National Security Strategy: Documenting Strategic Vision   [open pdf - 52KB]

"The issue addressed in the following paper is whether it is wise in the future to attempt anything more than broad and episodic planning as a part of the formulation of strategy at this level. The art of devising and articulating strategy is that of combining the various elements of power and relating them to the desired end. But in the final analysis, people of goodwill and intelligence will have to place national interests above political, personal, or even organizational concerns if the United States is to be served well by a coherent and appropriate strategy. […] The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 requires the President annually to submit an articulation of national grand strategy. There have been six such reports published, two during the second Reagan administration (1987 and 1988), three by the Bush administration (1990, 1991 and 1993), and one by the Clinton administration in July 1994. Several conclusions about the formulation of American national security strategy can be drawn from the way in which these reports were developed. Perhaps most importantly is the notion that today there is no consensus as to an appropriate grand strategy for the United States. Second, the executive branch traditionally does not conduct long-range planning in a substantive or systematic manner. Third, what the executive branch does do is episodic planning for particular events as they rise to prominence."

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