It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business
President Calvin Coolidge once said that “the business of the American people is business”. Given the current strength and global reach of American businesses, from McDonalds to Raytheon, there is much to be said for that. Maintaining and expanding American business is a cornerstone of US dominance. With that in mind, a 2014 publication from the National Defense University discusses “grand strategy” as using power to “secure the state”. If our “grand strategy” involves securing the state from more than simply a military, or narrowly focused strategic, perspective, then one might be able to make some sense of what & why we are doing, or not doing, certain things in various parts of the world.
Though this may smack of excessive cynicism, our strategy may be interpreted as “securing the state through business”…..pivoting towards the Pacific, with its huge expanses of sea and airspace, means generating business for companies associated with aircraft production and shipbuilding; lifting sanctions against Iran motivates our Gulf allies (Saudis, Emiratis, Qataris…) to go on a buying spree of aircraft and missile defense systems; limiting US response to Russian aggression in Ukraine (and other areas of traditional Russian influence) spurs the countries of Eastern Europe (Poland, Baltic states) to buy Patriot missile systems and armored vehicles; forcing Iraq to deal with ISIS on their own (albeit with minimal US & allied advisory support) impels them to buy more US ammunition and equipment to sustain their fight and preserve their positions in government; yadda, yadda, yadda…..
The post-GWOT period will be our time for “masterly inactivity”. Our foreign policy efforts, if involving some sort of active intervention, will likely see limited-duration “small footprint” approaches consisting of small teams, usually special operations types, providing focused counter-terror/ counter-insurgent training. The bulk of our foreign policy efforts will probably be comprised of passive endeavors, favoring “show-of-force” theatrics designed to reinforce the image of US engagement but with an eye towards exploiting opportunities for American businesses. The latter is what will sustain US global influence in the long run and help “secure the state”.