My Cato Institute friend Chris Preble, author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free, and his associates concentrate on America’s vital interests.
The end of the Cold War ushered in a unipolar world, cementing U.S. dominance over a generally liberal international order. Yet where once it seemed that U.S. foreign policy would be simpler and easier to manage as a result, the events of the past 15 years — the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arab Spring, and Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine — strongly suggest otherwise.
Americans are fortunate enough to enjoy substantial security; we rarely need to use our military might. Yet our current grand strategy — known as primacy or liberal hegemony — demands a massive, forward deployed military. That strategy tempts policymakers to use force even when U.S. vital interests are not directly threatened.
To conserve American power and security, a strategy of restraint focuses on avoiding distant conflicts that do not threaten American interests. Restraint argues that the U.S. military should be used rarely and only for clearly defined reasons.