Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy

(Cornell University Press, 2014)

Book Forum
June 12, 2014 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author Barry R. Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science, and Director, Security Studies Program, MIT; with comments by Justin Logan, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; and Blake Hounshell, Deputy Editor, POLITICO Magazine; moderated by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

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The United States, argues Barry R. Posen, has grown incapable of moderating its foreign policy ambitions. Since the collapse of Soviet power, it has pursued a grand strategy that has tended to overreach, generating a host of failures and encountering many unexpected difficulties along the way.

In this new book, Posen explains why the dominant view among the nation’s foreign policy elites, what he calls “liberal hegemony,” has proved unnecessary, counterproductive, costly, and wasteful. His alternative — restraint — would resist the impulse to use U.S. military power, and focus the military’s and the nation’s attention on the most urgent challenges to national security.

In addition to setting out the political implications of restraint as a guiding principle, Posen also outlines the military force structure most suited to implementing it. Restraint would maintain U.S. global access through naval, air, and space power, but would eliminate most occasions for permanently stationing U.S. troops overseas. This smaller military would be significantly less expensive to build and maintain, an important consideration given the nation’s fiscal challenges.

Please join us for a discussion of this book and the prospects for reorienting U.S. foreign policy toward restraint.