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date: 26 September 2022

Modern Grand Strategic Studies: Research Advances and Controversieslocked

Modern Grand Strategic Studies: Research Advances and Controversieslocked

  • Thierry BalzacqThierry BalzacqCERI, Sciences Po
  •  and Mark CorcoralMark CorcoralCERI, Sciences Po

Summary

Grand strategy offers an effective framework to understand and explain how and why a state interacts with other actors in a given way and how it combines various military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural instruments to achieve its ends in a largely coherent fashion. Yet, the term “grand strategy” conjures different meanings and attitudes, with some treating it as synonymous with strategy and foreign policy, thus raising questions about its relations with policy and politics. History teaches us that grand strategy remains a demanding enterprise, partly because of actors’ differential status and partly because its time horizon (mid to long term) subjects it to unforeseen conditions that threaten to derail it. However, does this make grand strategy impossible? Modern grand strategic scholarship is studded with tensions, but this must not eclipse research advances. In fact, the more disconnected controversies are from empirical contexts, the more they tend to become ends unto themselves. The first controversy relates to the definition of grand strategy and the best way to chart its landscape; the second deals with the sources of grand strategy (internal vs. external, material vs. ideational); and the third revolves around the feasibility of grand strategy in a capricious and fast-paced environment. These tensions are both defining, in the sense that they outline the state of the field, and productive, as they point toward future research avenues.

Subjects

  • Diplomacy
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Relations Theory
  • Security Studies

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