The Structure of Domestic Politics: Assessing the Obstacles to a Grand Strategy of Restraint
36 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 24 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2010
In recent policy debates, realists have urged a grand strategy of “restraint” or “offshore balancing” on the United States. Policymakers have largely ignored them. This paper explains why. To advise that America should adopt restraint implies that it can do so. I argue that as a result of the lack of powerful structural pressures on the United States, as well as the alignment of domestic foreign policy inputs within it, Washington is unlikely to adopt a grand strategy of restraint. Ironically, structural realists should pay more attention to the structure of domestic politics if they seek dramatic changes in U.S. grand strategy.
Keywords: realism, grand strategy, unipolarity, offshore balancing, restraint
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