Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy

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Deterrence in the Drone Age

by Amy Zegartvia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It is often argued that deterrent signals are more credible when they are costly, but that ignores the domestic political will necessary to sustain costly signaling. Drones offer a compelling deterrent option precisely because they are low in cost and thus more likely to be politically sustainable.

Managing the Cyber Security Threat

by Abraham D. Sofaervia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The cyber threat is part of a transnational game, with low barriers of entry, increasing sophistication, increasing cost, and no prospect that any state will be victorious.  The U.S. needs to manage the risk by focusing on those aspects of cyber insecurity that relate to commerce and critical infrastructure, leaving traditional forms of intelligence and military activities unregulated; and by allowing private companies and individuals to use strong encryption or open source software without built-in vulnerabilities. 

Transnational Terrorism

by Stephen D. Krasnervia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Given the low probability of a mass casualty terrorist attack and the lack of new attacks since 9/11, the U.S. is probably devoting too many resources to fighting terrorism. However, no political leader could endorse this conclusion, so the challenge of counterterrorism policy is channeling the political will terrorism engenders effectively.

Moral Hazard and the Obama Doctrine

by James D. Fearonvia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The U.S. war against ISIL risks helping the enemy in the long run by lessening locals’ incentives to develop their own military and state capabilities, and that it also helps with the enemy’s recruitment and PR. The more the U.S. does militarily, the less our friends and allies in the region do.

Thoughts on Unconventional Threats and Terrorism

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The term “unconventional threat” has often been an imprecise classification tool and has led to a focus on tactics at the expense of strategy in the U.S. struggle against transnational terrorists groups like Al Qaeda.  Combating transnational terrorism requires properly evaluating the threat terrorism poses, a deep understanding of geopolitical context surrounding a transnational terrorist group, and a willingness to be flexible in the tools used to mitigate risk, including focusing on improving countermeasures in the homeland. 

KTO KOVO?

by Coit Blackervia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Russia’s aggressive actions in the Ukraine are intended to signal to the West that there are limits to what Russia will accept in what it sees as aggressive Western action against Russia, even if Russia’s intervention comes at the cost of a split Ukraine. Ukraine will likely remain a frozen conflict, with the real issue being “for how long, and what cost, Putin will seek to impose his vision of the new Russia on the neighboring states of the region”.

Featured Commentary

How the Foreign Language Gap Can Be Bridged

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, November 1, 2014

In 2008, while campaigning for president in Powder Springs, Ga., then-Senator Barack Obama asserted, “We should have every child speaking more than one language.”

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Dealing with China

by Francis Fukuyamavia Analysis
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Francis Fukuyama argues that, while neither the Chinese economic nor political models are sustainable in the long run, “We need to assume that China will remain on its current growth trajectory” and “cannot assume a deus ex machina solution to our present problem.” The first step, he says, entails building a multilateral framework for dealing with China's territorial claims.

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Don't Ignore the Indo-Pacific

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Asian strategy shouldn't just be about China. 

Thucydides Trap

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia American Review
Monday, August 4, 2014

Don’t presume that tensions between China, a rising state, and the United States, the status quo power, will lead to conflict

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Latest Essay Series: Unconventional Threats


Transnational terrorism, cyber-security, and Russian violation of accepted international norms in the Crimea have posed unique challenges for the United States.  The following essays suggest how these threats might best be understood and met.

The Hoover Institution's Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy will explore an array of foreign policy topics over a two-year period. Our goal is to develop orienting principles about the most important policy challenges to better serve America's interests.

The certainties of the Cold War, such as they were, have disappeared. The United States now confronts several historically unique challenges, including the rise of a potential peer competitor, a rate of technological change unseen since the 19th century, the proliferation of nuclear and biological capabilities, and the possible joining of these capabilities with transnational terrorist movements. There has been no consensus on a grand strategy or even a set of principles to address specific problems. Reactive and ad hoc measures are not adequate.