The Niskanen Center’s foreign policy and defense studies department is dedicated to exploring the connections between foreign policy, the military, and a free society. Our focus is on American grand strategy, a concept that describes how a country links its military means and its foreign policy ends. Both the means and ends of American grand strategy have important implications for peace, security, stability, and liberty at home and abroad.
We argue that America’s engagement in the world since the end of World War II has been positive for peace and liberal values. However, the military power necessary to enable that engagement is costly to maintain, can potentially threaten the liberty of the American people if misused, and often tempts American policymakers to use it recklessly.
Our work aims to maintain the positive developments that stem from America’s post-1945 grand strategy. To that end, our research and commentary focuses on three broad issues: the politics of the defense budget, civil-military relations, and the use of military force. We propose policy solutions aimed at maintaining a grand strategy that enables a more peaceful and stable world, while also producing a military force that is appropriate for a free and open society and ensuring that it is deployed responsibly.
It isn’t easy to find a single policy that both erodes congressional authority over the use of military force and increases the risk of confrontation with allies and adversaries alike, but the Defense Department’s “collective self-defense” policy appears to do both.